Pro-lifers eyeing big electoral gains
By Paul Tuns
Ontario shaping up as a key battleground
More than 40 pro-life MPs may be elected
Canadians will go to the polls on June 28 and pro-life leaders are
excited about the opportunities to increase the number of MPs who will
defend the sanctity of human life in the political arena.
According to the Campaign Life Coalition Voter's Guide - which we have
obtained the rights to publish and include within this edition of The
Interim to provide as comprehensive coverage of the candidates and issues
as possible - demonstrates, there are nearly 100 candidates who are
pro-life or pro-life with exceptions; furthermore, there are numerous
ridings in which voters will have a choice among pro-life candidates.
CLC national president Jim Hughes told The Interim that it is likely
there will be more pro-lifers in the next Parliament than there were
in the last.
The CLC Voter's Guide rates candidates pro-life or pro-life with exceptions,
pro-abortion or not pro-life, and other (unknown, refused to answer
questionnaires or no information available). CLC based its ratings on
MP's voting records, candidates' responses to the CLC questionnaire
and other information that may be available.
What the Voter's Guide clearly demonstrates is that abortion is not
a partisan issue with pro-lifers running for five parties - the Christian
Heritage Party, Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Progressive Canadian
Party - or as independents, and in all regions of the country.
It has long been noted by pro-life leaders that the pro-life position
crosses party lines. Despite the media's attempt to paint the Conservative
Party of Canada as socially conservative and the Liberals and NDP as
"pro-choice," the reality is that party labels are inadequate indices
of a candidate's position on abortion. Likewise, none of the party leaders
except the CHP's Ron Gray oppose abortion - the mainstream media's portrayal
of Conservative leader Stephen Harper as a socially conservative extremist
notwithstanding; in fact, Harper is rated not pro-life.
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, the political
arm of the Canadian pro-life movement, told The Interim that voters
must get past and put aside party labels and support the local pro-life
candidate regardless of partisan affiliation. "Vote for the best candidate
and that means the pro-life candidate," at the riding level. CLC suggests
that in ridings without pro-life candidates that voters write in blue
ballpoint pen in the black field "no pro-life candidate." It is important
to be vote even if there is no pro-life candidate.
Hughes noted that the CLC Voter's Guide does not endorse or support
individual candidates. Instead, it provides information on life issues
so voters can make informed decisions on election day.
For several reasons, most of the media and political attention will
be in Ontario: it has the most number of seats and the most closely
If the polls hold up, Quebec will likely see the Bloc Quebecois win
the vast majority of seats in that province. Campaigne Quebec Vie president
Luc Gagnon told The Interim that "unfortunately there are few pro-life
BQ or Liberals in Quebec," although he said there were several pro-life
Conservatives. He said that although the polls have the Conservatives
with just half the support of the Liberals in la belle province, pro-life
Quebeckers should support pro-life candidates, noting that they will
have no chance to win if pro-life voters abandon them.
Just as the Bloc is expected to dominate in Quebec, the Conservatives
are expected to win the lion's share of western seats with pockets of
support for the Liberals in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Vancouver Island,
and the NDP in Saskatchewan and parts of B.C.
In the East, some pundits are predicting a number of close contests
in Atlantic Canada, but its small size means it will send roughly the
same number of people to Parliament as the Greater Toronto Area. However,
there are three Conservative pro-life incumbents in the region: in Newfoundland,
Loyala Hearn (St. John's South) and Norman Doyle (St. John's North),
and in New Brunswick, Greg Thompson (St. Croix-Bellisle). Notably, Prince
Edward Island, the only province that does not have legal abortion,
has no declared pro-life candidates.
That leaves most of the action happening in Ontario. With the political
right united, a revitalized NDP and a scandal-troubled Liberal Party,
there are at least 35 seats in play in Ontario. Perhaps as many as half
of the Ontario riding will have at least one pro-life candidate.
Pro-lifers running in southwestern Ontario include: Jeff Watson (CPC,
Essex), John Deardon (CPC, Guelph), MP and co-chair of the Parliamentary
Pro-Life Caucus Paul Steckle (Lib, Huron-Bruce), Dean Allison (CPC,
Niagara West-Glanbrook), Tim Gatten (CPC, London North Centre), Michael
Menear (CPC, London West), MP Pat O'Brien (Lib, London Fanshawe), Marcel
Beaubien (CPC, Sarnia-Lambton) and Leo Bonomi (CPC, St. Catharines).
All have a good chance to win - if pro-life voters show up at the polls
and support them.
There are several high profile pro-life candidates running for the
Conservatives. In Niagara Falls, former MP and Kim Campbell era cabinet
minister Rob Nicholson won the party's nomination. Former Promise Keeper
Canada head David Sweet is taking up the Conservative mantle in the
incumbent-less riding of Ancaster-Flamborough-Dundas-Westdale.
In Simcoe North, former Canadian Family Action Coalition national affairs
director and frequent Interim contributor Peter Stock is the Conservative
challenger to Liberal MP Paul DeVillers. DeVillers supports abortion
and redefining marriage to include homosexuals. In fact, last summer,
DeVillers argued that the Catholic Church has never had a teaching on
homosexual "marriage" thus insinuating that it must not be against same-sex
"marriage." Stock told The Interim that he not only opposes same-sex
"marriage" and same-sex civil unions but that he supports the use of
the notwithstanding clause and a constitutional amendment to maintain
the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Stock said he is running because he wants to "make Canada better for
his children and (future) grandchildren." He said when he thinks about
what is happening in Canada he said, "I can't allow this type of moral
corruption to rule in our land."
If Nicholson, Stock or Sweet wins, the seat would be a pro-life pickup.
There are a number of pro-life Liberal MPs, especially in the Toronto
area: Judi Longfield (Whitby Oshawa), Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough
East), Joe Volpe (Eglinton-Lawrence), Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest),
Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough Agincourt), Paul Szabo (Mississauga South),
Albina Guarnieri (Mississauga East-Cooksville). Hughes said pro-lifers
must get beyond the pro-abortion position of the current and former
Liberal leaders to help elect pro-life MPs to Parliament. He noted that
Szabo and Wappel are both past recipients of CLC's Joseph P. Borowski
Award given each year to the elected official who, according to the
votes of CLC's supporters, best exemplifies Borowski's commitment to
protecting the rights of the unborn in the political arena.
There are several ridings with more than one pro-life candidate. In
Chatham-Kent-Essex, the NDP's Kevany will face the pro-life Conservative
candidate David Van Kesteren and Liberal MP Jerry Pickard, who was rated
not pro-life because of his vote in favour C-13 and his absence from
M-83 - two pro-life items before the House of Commons in late 2003.
In Cambridge, Liberal MP Janko Peric faces Conservative challenger
Gary Goodyear. Both are rated pro-life. Likewise in Middlesex-Kent-Lambton,
both the Liberal MP (Rose-Marie Ur) and Conservative challenger Bev
Shipley are pro-life.
CLC's Hughes said that the voters will be the winners because the pro-life
candidates are all exemplary.
While the focus will be on Ontario, there are pro-life candidates all
across the country. In Atlantic Canada and the West, there are numerous
pro-life incumbents seeking re-election from Dr. James Lunney (Conservative)
in Nanaimo-Cowichan on Vancouver Island to Norman Doyle (Conservative)
in St. John's North in Newfoundland.
There are also numerous CHP candidates running across the country and
in many ridings they are the only pro-life candidate, although CLC urges
voters to consult its Voter's Guide to identify other pro-lifers. Notable
CHP candidates include leader Ron Gray (Abbotsford) and long-time pro-life
activist Frank Wagner, who faces radically pro-abortion former B.C.
premier Ujjaal Dosanjh in Vancouver South, a Paul Martin appointee.
It appears that the CHP may have the 50 candidates necessary to qualify
as an official party, which will allow the party's name to appear on
ballots on June 28.
The CHP is not the only so-called third-party that has pro-life candidates
worth considering. In Newmarket-Aurora where pro-abortion former Conservative
Party leadership hopeful Belinda Stronach is running, local Anglican
minister and community activist Dorian Baxter is running under the Progressive
Canadian Party banner.
There are three extremely notable pro-life independents, coincidentally
all running in Saskatchewan and all because they were either expelled
from the Conservative Party caucus or denied the right to run for the
party. Larry Spencer is the incumbent in Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre.
The former Canadian Alliance MP was not allowed back into caucus after
being suspended following a newspaper interview that was reported to
misrepresent Spencer's views on homosexuality. Spencer told The Interim
that party label does not matter. He told The Interim that he is pro-life
and pro-family and that he will represent those views in Parliament,
as he always has, if re-elected. When asked if Spencer was concerned
that running as independent might help the NDP get elected in Regina-Lumsden-Lake
Centre, he said that the Conservatives, by running a candidate against
the incumbent and their own former colleague, are the ones who would
be responsible for dividing the conservative vote in the riding.
In Souris-Moose Mountain, former Saskatchewan premier Grant Devine
is the only pro-life candidate in the riding. The Conservative Party
did not allow Devine to run for them allegedly because of the scandal
that tainted his government but never him, in the early 1990s. Hughes
said Devine "makes an excellent addition to the field of pro-life candidates.
In Saskatoon-Humboldt, former Canadian Alliance MP Jim Pankiw is running
as an independent. Riding-level polling data obtained by The Interim
shows that Pankiw is likely to win the riding. Pankiw told The Interim
that he hopes the pro-life and pro-family community support his candidacy
because he has consistently brought their issues to the fore in Parliament,
including a private member's bill to maintain the traditional definition
Overall, pro-life leaders think they can pick-up seats. Hughes explains
that it is important to get as many pro-life MPs to Parliament as possible
because only once there is a majority of elected representatives willing
to defend the sanctity of human life will there be the opportunity to
get pro-life legislation.
Please read the short stories that appear on various issues that appear
in the Voter's Guide that are related to abortion and bringing the pro-life
position back into the public square. Hughes said that voters making
informed decisions at the ballot box is the only way to get elected
representatives who will stand up and defend life in the House of Commons
and he urged those concerned about life and family issues to avail themselves
of the Voter's Guide and vote pro-life on June 28.