Pro-life MP Maurice Vellacott has announced he will not seek a seventh term in the House of Commons in the next federal election. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Pro-life MP Maurice Vellacott not running in next election

  • July 29, 2013

OTTAWA - Veteran pro-life MP Maurice Vellacott has announced he will not seek a seventh term in the House of Commons in the next federal election.

Vellacott, a Conservative, chaired the Parliamentary Pro-life Caucus for 10 years before fellow Conservative Rod Bruinooge took over the job several years ago.

“During my time in Ottawa, I have been able to see dollars withdrawn from some radical special interest groups,” Vellacott said in a July 25 statement, in which he cited personal reasons for leaving public life. “Farmers have freedom in marketing the products they grow.

“The Senate is on the cusp of the significant change which I and others advocated for over two decades,” he said. “It’s been satisfying to be a part of these and other important changes, to the betterment of Canada.”

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said he is disappointed to hear Vellacott is stepping down.

“We’re going to miss him a lot,” said Hughes. “He’s done an outstanding job for many years. It’s going to be tough to replace him.

“I hope he will have a hand in choosing his replacement.”

Vellacott's work is not done, however, as he will continue to push forward a staunch, socially conservative agenda. He will introduce an Equal Parenting private member’s bill this fall that he hopes will pass during this Parliament.

“The presumption of equal, shared parenting, in the unfortunate event of a marriage breakdown, aside from abuse or neglect, has a very high percentage of support across the country, in all political parties, among both genders, and is Conservative Party policy.”

He will continue to press for income splitting for all families, something the Conservatives have brought in for elderly couples and have promised for the rest when the budget is balanced. “Strong families are the bedrock of a society and crucial to the health of a nation,” he said.

Though he remained a backbencher, Vellacott doggedly pursued a number of issues that eventually became law. He introduced a private member’s bill not long after his Saskatoon-Wanuskewin riding elected him as a Reform Party MP in 1997 to axe the controversial Court Challenges Program that special interest groups had used to fund Charter challenges to bring about progressive social change. Though his bill did not pass, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper cut the program’s $5.5 million in funding in 2006.

In 1998, he put forward a bill to protect conscience rights of nurses and doctors and prevent them from being forced to participate in abortions. He was on the record opposing same-sex marriage in 1999 and opposed spousal benefits for same-sex couples.

Vellacott won re-election in 2000 as a Canadian Alliance MP in the newly merged Progressive Conservative and Reform Parties under Stockwell Day, who Vellacott supported for Day’s strong pro-life views.

Vellacott defended the rights of marriage commissioners in his home province to opt out of performing same-sex marriages after they became legal.

As a Canadian Alliance MP, Vellacott opposed embryonic stem-cell research. He also opposed the addition of sexual orientation to the list of protected groups in the hate crimes legislation, warning the impact such a change would have on freedom of religion and expression.

In 2005, as a Conservative MP, he called for legislation that would make it a crime to kill or injure an unborn child if the mother had chosen to keep the pregnancy.

Hughes described Vellacott as “absolutely solid from the time he arrived,” and among the many Conservative backbenchers “who put it all on the line every time.”

Vellacott will be 60 years old at the time of the 2015 election and will have served 19 years as an MP. He said he wanted to devote more time to a 20-year-old son with “debilitating mental health challenges” so he can pursue college courses and piano lessons.

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