A great many Conservative Members of Parliament are pro-life and many more voted to protect the traditional definition of marriage. But the party’s official position on abortion, as voted on by a slender majority of delegates at the Montreal convention last March, is for a Conservative government to not introduce pro-life legislation.
In 1993 when Stephen Harper was running as a candidate for Parliament for the Reform Party, he answered the CLC questionnaire by declaring that he would vote on moral issues according to the majority of his constituents and that having already solicited their opinion on the issue, would vote to maintain abortion but could support defunding it. As leader of the Conservative Party during the 2004 election campaign, Harper said that Conservative MPs would have a free vote on the issue but framed the issue as “a woman’s right to choose.”
Harper is a very astute man and chooses his words carefully. The terminology was typical pro-abortion language that is used in an attempt to portray abortion as being acceptable.
More recently, in a December 11, 2005 letter to the editor of the Washington Times, Harper stated, “a new Conservative government will not initiate or support any effort to pass legislation restricting abortion in Canada.” Then he went on to distance himself from Republican politicians by noting his “differences on many issues with some American conservative politicians.” It is clear that Harper is trying to signal to Canadians that he is not pro-life.
It seems that Harper did not need the advice of Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory who, two weeks into the federal campaign, urged his federal cousins to eschew social conservatism, urging them to be “inclusive” and to respect “diversity.” He said that the party should not divide the country by introducing moral issues to the political debate. Tory, who is pro-abortion, pro-same-sex-‘marriage’, obviously does not want a Conservative Party that is “inclusive” of pro-life and pro-family Canadians. His support for diversity involves the silencing of social conservative voices.
Despite Harper’s carefully calculated move of highlighting the party’s concerns with same-sex “marriage” on the first day of the campaign, he hasn’t provided the leadership on this issue that many social conservatives would like to see from him, leaving some people fearful that he may fail to fully capitalize on the issue.
We are worried that once again the Conservative Party is blowing its chance to make serious inroads, by not promoting policies that are unabashedly pro-life and pro-family. We are positive that such a strategy would connect with many ethnic voters who currently support the Liberal Party and re-connect with many Christian voters who have long given up on politics because no political party leader has represented or addressed deeply held concerns.
In recent years, the successive Liberal governments under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, have aggressively pushed through legislation that destroys human life by permitting embryonic stem cell research, and undermined the family by legalizing same-sex “marriage.” They have punished provinces that do not fully fund abortions (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) and appointed radical, pro-abortion, anti-family judges to the Supreme Court.
Chretien suppressed pro-life voices in his caucus and declared that there should be no national discussion of abortion because on that particular issue, Canada had “social peace.” Martin went further, declaring during the 2004 federal campaign, that the Liberal Party supports “a woman’s right to choose” as a matter of upholding the Charter of Rights. The party has no official position on abortion and it is unlikely that delegates will want to open the issue for debate any time soon. Furthermore, despite promising to fix the “democratic deficit” so apparent under Chretien, Martin has actually taken a harder line.
During the same-sex “marriage” vote, the Prime Minister required cabinet ministers to support redefinition and, we heard, pressured MPs to support the legislation. This was after ensuring the Supreme Court, while hearing the reference case asking for a constitutional opinion on the matter, was stacked with supporters of same-sex “marriage”. In August 2004, four months before the Court rendered its decision, Martin appointed to the Supreme Court, Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron, two radical, pro-gay feminist jurists from Ontario.
We are worried that, once again, the Liberal Party is attacking traditional Canadian values of life and family. Furthermore, we are concerned that Paul Martin’s strident pro-abortion and pro-same-sex “marriage” positions could drive voters away from the many pro-life and pro-family Liberal candidates – approximately a quarter of the Liberal caucus supports life and family – who truly deserve our support.
The NDP is officially pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and pro-same-sex “marriage.” Last Fall, NDP leader Jack Layton – whom we know well from his days in the 1980s of directing police to arrest pro-lifers witnessing outside Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary – booted Bev Desjarlais out of caucus for daring to vote for the traditional definition of marriage. Still, almost every election, a candidate for the NDP returns the CLC questionnaire indicating that he or she is pro-life.
These people deserve our support – especially if there is no other pro-life candidate in the riding. If there is a vote on abortion, euthanasia or another life issue, the pro-life side will need every vote in Parliament we can get. And just a someone like Bev Desjarlais defied her party and did the right thing during the marriage debate (despite the fact that she is pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia), pro-life NDPers could also stand against their party on a matter of principle.
We are deeply saddened that the NDP, a party which purports to speak for the “little guy”, has become so extreme in its support for killing the tiniest of human beings (the unborn) and the most vulnerable in society (the elderly, the disabled, the sick). We are shocked that a party born of principles to give a voice to those whose voices were not heard in the public square, could so callously support abortion and euthanasia. But we must not allow the party’s immoral positions and leader’s hardline stance to lead us to punish pro-life and pro-family candidates who have, as a matter of principle, not abandoned the most vulnerable Canadians who are desperately crying to have their voices heard.
The Bloc Quebecois is led by Gilles Duceppe, a former Marxist who seemingly moderated his economic views to become more politically palatable as the leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois. His views on moral issues, have not been moderated and he is an active parliamentary leader when it comes to moral issues.
Ducappe was absent for C-13, the 2003 reproductive technologies bill that enabled embryonic stem cell research and opens the door to human cloning. However, he has supported all other socially liberal legislation including same-sex "marriage" and opposed attempts to re-examine abortion or raise the age of consent. Furthermore, during the 2004 election campaign, Duceppe vowed to bring down a Conservative government if, after it was elected, it tried to restrict abortion. He said: "I will not accept that the Conservatives abolish the right to abortion."
It is particularly disturbing that Duceppe refers to abortion as a "right" considering that the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the idea in the 1988 Morgentaler decision when it ruled that the abortion law was unconstitutional on narrow technical grounds, not because it was a "right."
Also, during that campaign, Duceppe was asked by the Canadian Press, "Would you allow a free vote in the Commons on a private member's bill" on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage." The Bloc leader said he would allow a free vote but that his caucus would "be strongly encouraged by the loc leadership to vote against bills that would threaten rights that have been won."
During the first English leader's debate in the current election campaign, Duceppe criticized Conservative leader Stephen Harper's suggestion that he would be open to reconsidering the issue of same-sex "marriage" and would allow a free vote if it came before Parliament again. Duceppe said the issue has been "settled" and
added: "We shouldn't have a free vote on something that has already been decided." This was ironical coming from a man who leads a party that wants to break up Canada despite the fact that a majority of Quebeckers voted against separation in the 1995 Quebec sovereignty referendum suggesting that any issue is "settled."
In recent years, the vast majority of Bloc MPs have followed Duceppe's socially liberal lead and voted gainst life and family.
Nearly every member of the caucus voted for C-13 and gay 'marriage', Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke) and Gerard Asselin (Charlevoix) being notable exceptions. Last June, only five Bloc MPs voted against C-38 (the Civil Marriage Act which redefined marriage to include homosexual couples) compared to 43 who voted for the bill.
Ghislain Lebel, a former Bloc MP, left the party in 2003 and sat as an independent, in response to the extreme social liberalism of the party's leadership. Lebel opposes abortion, euthanasia and same-sex "marriage" and during his 2005 Parti Quebecois leadership bid, highlighted the demographic decline of the province.
We wonder how a leader (Duceppe) and party (the Bloc Quebecois) which both profess to be concerned about the future of Quebec could promote policies that, in the words of Campagne Quebec Vie founding president Gilles Grondin, are leading to Quebec's cultural and demographic suicide. The Bloc is concerned about Quebec's distinct society but it should be worried about Quebec's disappearing society.
The Christian Heritage Party is the only party whose principles are derived from Scripture and whose platform includes respect for the sanctity of human life and the uniqueness of traditional marriage. The men and women who stand for the CHP at election time are able to highlight social conservative issues in a way that even some pro-life candidates from the major parties, do not. Where there is no pro-life candidate among the main parties a vote for the CHP sends a clear message that none of those parties’ candidates represent your first priorities of life and family.
A final word about the parties: In Canada, citizens vote not for a party or even leader but for the local candidate who becomes their member of Parliament – their representative. While the party label may be an indication of the candidates’s views – a starting point for examination – it cannot be the last word. We care about the candidate’s party, its policies and principles, but from the beginning CLC’s policy has been to support pro-life candidates who will vote pro-life on the issues.
It doesn’t make any sense for pro-life voters to oppose a candidate who defends the sanctity of human life, simply because of party affiliation. When looking at the issues of abortion, euthanasia and reproductive technologies, it is necessary to look at the candidate’s views on these issues, not the party label, and determine from the candidate whether he/she will vote according to his/her views, rather than the party’s or leader’s policies. As Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life in the United States has said, the order of importance when considering who to vote for is: the candidate, the party’s policies and the leader. While all are important, the candidate’s personal views and commitment to vote accordingly, are the most important.