ARPA’s Infiltrate Parliament – Promoting Life, Faith, and Justice
(More pictures to come) Parliament Hill was abuzz with close to 70 representatives of ARPA chapters from across the nation who gathered last week and sat down with approximately 50 Members of Parliament and Senators to discuss issues close to our hearts. This was part of three days of other activities that included an evening reception for MPs by Dr. John Smith (pictured on right), strategy and training sessions for the ARPA chapters, a speech to the ARPA groups from cabinet minister Jason Kenney, as well as the March for Life and Reformed Prayer Service.
Day 1: Parliament Hill
In the weeks and months prior, the ARPA chapters booked meetings with government officials who are from their area or who are responsible for an issue that they wanted to address. We were able to meet with Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green MPs from a wide variety of worldviews and talk in depth about prostitution, palliative care, abortion, and a sports betting bill that was pushed through the House of Commons largely unnoticed and is in the Senate right now.
We were able to pray with many of the MPs and express our appreciation for their service, while also sharing our concerns about the direction our country is taking on some of these matters. The sheer number of ARPA reps on the Hill did not go unnoticed – even MPs who we did not meet with commented on this. As always, the MPs were encouraged to see ordinary Canadians make the effort to put their work and tasks aside to come to Ottawa and meet with them.
In between meetings the delegates were able to learn more about how Parliament functions by attending committee meetings, which are nothing like the ruckus associated with Question Period and typically covered on the news.
Our first day culminated in an evening reception at the Chateau Laurier. MPs and leaders from other non-profit political organizations joined us as we listened to a talk by Dr. John Smith about restorative justice. After a time for questions we were able to socialize with our guests for close to an hour. Although we refrained from pictures of this event for the sake of our guests, at least one MP wasn’t afraid to tweet his presence with us to the universe. Many of the MPs there had a connection to the areas where the ARPA groups and Reformed churches are located – it was very evident that the relationships we build with them locally bear fruit with functions like these.
Day 2: ARPA Strategy & Training
Andre, Mark, Bruce, and Mike faced off with our first ever Dragon’s Den, ARPA style. The staff introduced a new project which the local ARPAs would be able to use to stimulate political action in their communities. Mike walked away with the win, and the delegates were given 17 projects in booklet form to take back with them. We look forward to seeing giant inflatable crosses, lawn signs, prostitution awareness booths, and many other projects become a reality and also other efforts as an organic part of our everyday lives.
Other sessions for the day included media training from Andrea Mrozek, Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, as well as a break-out session for the provinces to strategize about how to coordinate their activities.
We were also able to present our very first Salt & Light award for a volunteer who exemplified effective political action. Jacqueline Hamoen from Barrhead/Neerlandia ARPA won the award because of her tireless efforts in northern Alberta: organizing legislature meetings, spearheading a Stephen Woodworth tour through the province, reaching out to other Alberta chapters, among many other things.
Minister Jason Kenney gave our lunch keynote speech, about the valuable role of faith-based political action in Canadian politics as well as the need to protect religious freedom. He expressed his appreciation for the work that ARPA is doing, noting the influence he sees from Reformed Christians in Parliament and his own office.
Day 3: March for Life!
Some of our reps were able to take in the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast which includes many MPs and religious leaders. We then all gathered at First Baptist church, a historic church in downtown Ottawa, for the Reformed Prayer Service. Reverend George van Popta gave an address based on the words of Micah 6. Blogger and writer Tim Challies followed this up with a call to persevere in the face of resistance to our efforts to protect pre-born life. André Schutten then provided apologetics training via Pro-Life 101 and Mike Schouten closed off with words of encouragement.
The approx. 350-400 in attendance then assembled with other pro-life Canadians on Parliament Hill for what may have been the largest March for Life to date. The streets of Ottawa were plugged with marchers who peacefully shared a message of hope and justice.
ARPA is very grateful to all who donated flights, travel points, and other assistance which made all this possible. In particular we thank a generous company, which does not wish to be singled out, for its financial sponsorship of this venture. A special thanks goes to many of you who kept this week in your prayers. The Lord was gracious and allowed all of it to proceed unhindered.
May the Name of the Lord be praised.