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June 2004

Steckle a tireless defender of life

By Linda Burns
The Interim

After 11 years of public life, MP Paul Steckle (L-Huron Bruce, Ont.) has not lost his enthusiasm for serving his constituents. It's the "love of the people" that drew him to politics initially and the same love that keeps him coming back.

"There are so many causes that need our attention, individuals requiring help to work through their problems and encouragement in making the right decisions. Making a difference is what I set out to do."

"Priority: the People" was his motto when he first ran for federal office in 1993 and it remains his mantra today as he gears up for the coming election.

Steckle has been consistently courageous in upholding life and family values in Parliament and voting for what he believes to be right, even when it has meant occasionally standing alone in his party. Far from being discouraged, he says he receives respect and collaboration from colleagues on both sides of the House.

They may not agree with his commitment to uphold what he calls "God's divine plan," but there is no doubt as to where he stands. His choice to protect the sanctity of life, the traditional definition of marriage, ethical alternatives to embryonic stem cell research, as well as his active participation in preserving and promoting Canadian agricultural interests and farm families, has set him apart from the pack.

In fact, he remains optimistic about Prime Minister Paul Martin's promise that politicians will be able to vote freely on all matters, with the exception of fiscal issues.

As co-chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, he encourages participation in the March for Life and provides a platform for education of members of Parliament from all political parties on issues safeguarding the sanctity of life. Well-versed on the many advantages of adult and post-natal stem cells, Steckle would entertain a proposal for a national umbilical cord blood bank when Parliament reconvenes in the fall.

He is adamant that Canadians need to speak out for the rights of the unborn, the elderly, the disabled and all marginalized citizens. He is outraged that as many as three-and-a-half million lives have been lost to abortion in the last 35 years, three times the population of the province of Saskatchewan. However, he is encouraged to see the numbers of people marching on Parliament Hill every May.

He is also stellar on family issues. He applauded the 60 people who gathered outside his Goderich office to protest Bill C-250 and defend the institution of marriage. He has also stated publicly that he would recommend invoking the notwithstanding clause to maintain the traditional definition of marriage.

Several developments in recent months did not sit well with Steckle, but he does not take them sitting down. An ill-conceived poll commissioned by the Liberals took an adversarial position toward conservative Christians. Steckle rose in caucus and insisted that it be stopped. "Either offer proof that it was not the work of the Liberal party or stop it now!" he urged his party leaders.

Far from being a single-issue politician, Steckle has served for many years as chair of the standing committee on agriculture. This has been a crucial position of late, given the BSE effects on our cattle industry. No longer a matter of health science, BSE has become an issue of political science and American politics, at that.

What the committee had not counted on was the corporate greed that would direct their determinations. Price gouging was the accusation levelled at processing plants and retailers in the midst of the "mad cow crisis." Cattle were selling for a fraction of their value, yet savings were not passed along to consumers. Steckle's committee demanded financial statements from these businesses and received compliance, for the most part.

Two packing plants refused to submit in a timely fashion and are currently in contempt of the House. This is a serious offence for a corporation, and one that has not been witnessed in British law since 1666.

A firm supporter of the pro-life, pro-family movement in Canada, and a longstanding, staunch believer in Christian values, Paul Steckle faces the weeks ahead, braced for what he calls a move toward American politicking, but steadfast in his defence of God's divine plan.




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