Pro-lifers want respect for life as a priority of new cabinet

  • July 16, 2013

OTTAWA - Pro-life groups want Prime Minister Stephen Harper's reshuffled cabinet to stand up for life.

“We wish them well in their new portfolios, and hope all cabinet members will give priority to respect for life, religious freedom in Canada and abroad, and the strengthening of the family,” said Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) executive director Joanne McGarry. “These are the priorities that CCRL hopes to see in any government and we try to propose and support policies that will help achieve them.”

“No matter who is in the cabinet, whether the Prime Minister or Members of Parliament, we expect them to stand up for life,” said Campaign Life Coalition national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas. “This has been going on for so many years, so many babies have died.
“It’s time these men and women stood up for the most innocent members of our society,” she said.

Harper shuffled his cabinet on July 15.

Whether an MP is Catholic or identified as pro-life has not guaranteed they will stand up against abortion, said Douglas. “We didn’t elect these people to hang their morality around a tree.” She listed five Catholic MPs who brought abortion to Canada: Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chretien, Marc Lalonde, John Turner and Francis Fox.

Yet Douglas said she remains hopeful.

“We are happy a number who are pro-life are in the cabinet,” she said. “Now we want some action.”

Douglas is glad to see Gordon O’Connor is no longer the whip as he came across as “dictatorial” on some votes such as MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion-312 calling for a Parliamentary study on when human life begins. O’Connor has been replaced by former Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.

Duncan voted against Motion-312 and voted in favour of the so-called transgender “Bathroom Bill” C-279 that would add “gender identity” to the federal human rights code, Douglas noted.

“He is listed as ‘evaluation pending,’ meaning he’s someone we need to work on.” That means he has had some good votes and some bad votes, she said.
Former Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, a Catholic, has switched places with former Defense Minister Peter MacKay.

“It’s extremely important that MacKay follows Nicholson’s lead in the justice portfolio with regards to euthanasia,” Douglas said. “Hopefully, Peter MacKay will do the same thing, as euthanasia will be particularly important this fall.”

Euthanasia has become a hot button issue because the Quebec government has introduced a bill that would bring in euthanasia as health care, or “aid in dying,” flouting federal jurisdiction which treats euthanasia as homicide under the Criminal Code. But for Campaign Life Coalition, the political arm of the pro-life movement, “abortion is always number one,” she said.

“We want those who are taking a strong moral stand to have the courage to continue and those who haven’t to get with it, to become strongly involved in standing up for life from the time of conception to natural death, which covers both abortion and euthanasia.”

As for Jason Kenney’s move from the Citizenship and Immigration portfolio to Employment and Social Development, Douglas said she had no particular thoughts.
“I trust he will keep his pro-life position no matter what portfolio he will be given.”

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