PHILIP AND MARY COOPER OF OTTAWA – PRO-LIFE PIONEERS
Mary and Philip Cooper were both born in England but Philip came to Canada with his parents when he was two years old. Philip was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire and Mary Graham Cooper in Darlington, County Durham. She came to Canada after serving in the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and working as an au pair in France. They met and married in Toronto before moving to Ottawa three years later.
The Cooper’s retired to Torquay, Devon, England, in 1986 leaving behind in Canada six grown children and three grandchildren. The family has since welcomed the addition of four more grandchildren, and Philip and Mary usually manage to see everyone when they visit Canada each year.
Philip became interested in the abortion issue while working as a newspaper reporter in Toronto, where he covered several abortion trails. When Prime Minister Lester Pearson promised a review of Canada’s abortion laws, Philip began to write a brief which was subsequently submitted to the Special House of Commons Committee – the Harley Committee of 1968. Meanwhile he had made contact with a number of people who had written letters to the newspapers about abortion. Along with Olive Heron of Scarborough, Ontario, mary and Philip were the first pro-life witnesses to appear before the Harley Committee.
Mary soon proved to be an effective speaker and debater – first as chairman of the Ottawa Committee for the Defence of Unborn Children, and then as secretary of the Alliance for Life. Ironically, Philip first learned of Mary’s public speaking ability from a friend who had known her back in Darlington where Mary had been active in a youth organization. In her first television appearance Mary routed Lore Perron, the darling of the pro-abortion media, and in a subsequent televised debate she proved to be a match for Henry Morgentaler.
An early discovery was Grace Hargrave, whom Philip calls the “St. Paul of Canada’s Pro-life Movement” and also Father John Mole who offered support to the new pro-life group after he had denounced the government’s abortion plans from the pulpit. Joan Lusignan, first President of the Alliance for Life also came on stream in these early days.
When the Coopers retired they expected to take a back seat in the pro-life movement, but only six months after moving to England they were drafted as chairman and secretary of the new Torbay group. They are currently resting from the hard work involved to successfully elect a pro-life Liberal Democrat in their riding in the recent British election. They had met the candidate five years ago and had written to him and shown him part of the video, “Meet the Abortion Providers” which they had first seen on one of their annual trips to Canada.
Once pro-life, always pro-life, Philip and Mary Cooper are outstanding proof of what a true pro-life team of two can accomplish. They continue to keep abreast of pro-life issues and frequently correspond with The Interim on matters of concern. Philip recently played a part in instituting the “Bumble Award” to the politician whose ignorance of life issues underscores the old maxim, “the law is an ass.”