By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News
[Ottawa – CCN]– A petition signed by thousands of Canadians calling on the federal government to grant full legal protection to unborn children has been presented to the House of Commons.
While the petition, which was started by Alliance for Life Ontario, was able to collect just under 40,000 signatures from across the country, one of the organizers of the effort concedes that is a far cry from the number of Canadians who signed a similar petition more than 40 years ago, which was the inspiration for the latest effort.
Organizers of the new “Petition of One Million” say they collected 39,500 signatures, with 35,255 of those officially accepted when the petition was tabled in the House of Commons by Conservative Provencher MP Ted Falk on Oct. 5, 2020.
“If you were around in May 1975, you may recall the Petition of One Million. It was initiated by Alliance for Life Canada, gathered 1,027,425 signatures and gained support from MPs, pro-life groups, churches, organizations and individuals from coast to coast,” an online description of the petition said.
“Although more than 40 years have passed since the first petition, Canadians are still waiting for the Canadian government to provide protection for children in the womb. We know more about life in the womb than we did decades ago and the empirical evidence proving the harmful effects of abortion on women, families and society is undeniable and yet the debate around the issue of abortion remains stifled,” said the preamble to the latest petition.
“That’s why we’re launching a new petition asking PM Justin Trudeau to provide full legal protection for Canadian pre-born children,” said the preamble to the “Petition of One Million.”
Even though the petition presented to the House of Commons earlier this month only has 35,255 officially sanctioned signatures, one of the key organizers of the effort said the campaign was successful in continuing to make the pro-life case against abortion in Canada. “Compared to a lot of the other petitions that are presented to the House, that is a lot of signatures and shows that there are a lot of Canadians that want to speak out against abortion,” said Jakki Jeffs, executive director of Alliance for Life Ontario.
“Yes, the times have changed and some people are getting tired of not having any impact or of being dismissed whenever people of faith speak out on moral issues,” said Jeffs, a Catholic who acknowledges that even within her own church not everyone wanted to sign or get involved with the petition.
According to the federal government’s website, of all the petitions that have been filed with the House of Commons and have had a mandatory government response filed since April, none of those petitions had more than 5,000 signatures and only two of have had more than 4,000.
Jeffs said Alliance for Life Ontario has taken an educational approach to continuing to stress the pro-life message to advocate for the rights of the unborn. “As religious people this is at the heart of who we are and what we believe, that all life is precious,” Jeffs said in an interview with the Canadian Catholic News.
“We have to keep bringing this up and raising these issues and speak up for the hundreds of thousands Canadian babies that have been killed,” she said, even if, for the most part, Canada’s political parties do not want to address the issue of abortion in any meaningful way.
“Nobody wants to get into this, nobody wants to have a real discussion about hat we are doing in this country,” she said.
An official government response to the petition, which calls “upon the House of Commons to enact legislation granting full legal protection to the child not yet born from the beginning of his/her biological development as a human being – the same protection granted to any other human being,” has yet to be filed. An assistant in MP Falk’s office said the government has up to 45 days to file its official response.