march for life toronto

Duelling protest groups to face off over abortion rights in Toronto

Demonstrators are gearing up for what's expected to be a heated rally at Queen's Park on Thursday and, for the first time in a while, Doug Ford has absolutely nothing to do with it.

An event inspired by (but not related to) the annual March For Life event in Ottawa is set to take place in downtown Toronto on May 9.

This will be the first large-scale, pro-life event of its kind to take place in Toronto, according to organizers, and pro-choice demonstrators are ready for battle.

"The 'March for Life' calls for the criminalization or restriction of legal abortion, which takes away the human rights and bodily autonomy of people with uteruses," reads an event listing for the Toronto March For Life Counter Protest.

"The Pro-Choice Counter Protest is a rally to show that anti-choice mentality is harmful and is not welcome in our communities. Come out on May 9th with your signs and voices to show your support for a pro-choice Toronto, Ontario, Canada and World."

More than 2,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they're interested in attending the counter-protest event at Queen's Park on Thursday morning.

It is unknown how many people are planning to attend on behalf of the pro-life movement, as the event is being organized by several different groups including ARPA Canada,, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and Toronto Right to Life.

This coalition of groups is accepting registrations for the rally and post-protest workshops through a private website, where attendance numbers have not been made public.

"This year, Toronto will host its first-ever March for Life, giving an opportunity for those in the GTA to add their voices to the national call for human rights for all human beings," reads a post on regarding the event.

"We do not march to put on a show, or to boast in our events. We march because 100,000 children are lost to abortion annually in Canada," it continues. "We march because we understand the deep injustice of abortion, the lack of respect for the right to life, the disregard felt for humanity."

Counter-protesters also cite reasons related to human rights for their intended actions at Queen's Park on Thursday, where a pro-life rally kicks off around 9 a.m.

"This event is obviously incredibly misogynistic, discriminatory, and hateful," said one of the counter-protest's organizers, Lindsay Yates, by email. "We want to ensure that the pro-choice perspective is very present."

"This provincial government has made it clear that we will have to fight for every right we've gained all over again," wrote another organizer, Maarit Varkel, on the event's Facebook page.

"Anti-choice groups helped place Ford in his leadership seat and they will expect him to return the favour. Let's show up now to show everyone that this is not acceptable."

So, maybe Ford did inspire the protest a little bit in his own way after all. It wouldn't be a week in Toronto without at least one protest against the Premier on the lawn of Queen's Park, now would it?

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