On Sept. 21, nearly 12 years of Tory rule in Manitoba came to an end as the NDP won a majority government.
Under leader Gary Doer, the NDP captured 32 of 57 seats (the Tories won 24 and the Liberals just one). Like the NDP across the country, is a solidly pro-abortion party.
But as CLC Manitoba President Niel Slykerman says, "It was bad enough the way it was," noting that the Conservative government of Gary Filmon did nothing to curb abortion or protect the traditional definition of the family in its 12-year rule.
There are now 10 pro-life legislators, including Dave Chomiak (NDP-Kildonan) who was appointed to the very important cabinet portfolio of Health Minister. Slykerman said he has not yet contacted Chomiak but plans to do so soon. A hopeful Slykerman says, "We will see what he can do as health minister."
CLC Manitoba sent a questionnaire to the candidates of the three major parties to determine who was pro-life so they could provide assistance to pro-life voters seeking suitable candidates. One day after the questionnaires were sent out, the NDP replied that as a matter of party policy, candidates are not allowed to respond to such queries.
The official NDP position is that abortion is an individual choice. The NDP believe that health care workers uncomfortable with abortion should "choose an area of practice in which it is less likely that their personal beliefs will be in conflict with their duties to provide patient care."
Several days later, Gary Filmon said Tory candidates wishing to respond to the questionnaire could use a statement prepared by PC headquarters. In a sample letter acquired by The Interim, the party relies on tired cliches such as abortion "is both a difficult and emotionally charged issue" and claims it is solely a federal issue. (The Tories say, however, that they will not fund "free standing abortion clinics.") The letter addresses the gay rights agenda by stating "the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that it is illegal to discriminate against any group, and our party supports the equal treatment of all Canadians" - a response which is useless as a guide to specific policies affecting homosexuals.
CLC Manitoba identified 32 pro-life or "pro-life with exceptions" candidates, including 19 Tories, 10 Liberals and two NDPers. That means one-third of the pro-life candidates won seats. In Fort Garry, pro-life PC candidate Joy Smith won with a 19-vote margin. Slykerman says pro-lifers "spread the word" about her pro-life credentials and were active in a door-to-door campaign. Smith even spoke at several pro-life gatherings and Slykerman is sure she "will do what she can to further (pro-life legislation)."
Slykerman isn't sure what to expect in the next four years because moral issues were predictably absent from the campaign debates. But he says that only by engaging politicians will pro-lifers be able to get these issues on the table.