Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters

Trudeau majority worries pro-lifers

  • October 20, 2015

OTTAWA - As Canadians signalled they were ready for change in Ottawa, giving Justin Trudeau and the Liberals a majority mandate to rule the land, pro-lifers raised concerns about what exactly is in store for Canada.

Those, however, who want action on climate change, poverty and help for refugees hope the new Trudeau-led government will deliver on its promises in these areas.

Trudeau and the Liberals swept to power Oct. 19, with Canadians giving the Liberals 184 seats in Parliament to the Conservatives 99. The New Democrats returned to third-party status with 44 seats while the Bloc Quebecois took 10 seats and the Greens one.

With a majority mandate, pro-lifers fear what that means when it comes to life issues in Canada. Campaign Life Coalition said it means a push for more abortion access at home and abroad and expressed fears that assisted-suicide legislation will now be a mere formality.

One of the first issues that the Liberals will face is assisted suicide. Early in its mandate the one-year period granted Parliament by the Supreme Court to come up with laws surrounding the matter will end, and Campaign Life fears the Liberals will allow Canadians access to assisted suicide.

“(Campaign Life Coalition) urges the Liberal caucus to refrain from passing a permissive euthanasia and assisted-suicide law that will surely put the lives of many vulnerable Canadians at risk,” said Jim Hughes, Campaign Life president.

Hughes also is concerned about MPs rights to vote their conscience. Trudeau has told his MPs that they must be pro-choice in any vote that comes up on the matter.

“I also call on Trudeau to represent all Canadians and allow his MPs to vote their conscience on moral issues, issues that many of their constituents feel strongly about.”

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg said he is “incredibly worried” Canada will see a Belgium-style euthanasia regime imposed on Canada, because the wording of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter decision is so broad and imprecise.

“It’s possible the Liberals may decide not to legislate at all and let the provinces take over euthanasia and assisted suicide,” Schadenberg said. “Then they would be officially defined as health care.”

Doing so would negatively affect the health care system and put vulnerable people at risk, he warned.

Alissa Golob, who ran Campaign Life’s “No to Trudeau Campaign,” called the Liberal victory a “setback.”

“It’s not a defeat,” she said. “I am not sure anything can defeat the pro-life movement. We did everything we could to fight against Justin Trudeau and while in the process we exposed the injustice of abortion to millions of Canadians and we continue to revitalize the pro-life base.”

Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice, said Canadians “are looking for some pretty immediate tone changes from their new majority government: the re-establishment of a functioning census, evidence-based decision-making with civil servants’ views able to be publicly expressed, no more demonization of refugees and those who work to help resettle them, and respect for women who wear traditional clothing from their culture or religion, for example.”

Gunn said CPJ has three areas where it would like to see “content changes” from the federal government: “on refugees, the immediate facilitation of 25,000 Syrians as promised during the campaign; on poverty, the implementation of the child benefit that should lift thousands of kids from poverty; and on climate change, a specific target for greenhouse gas reductions that is far more ambitious than Canada’s current, extremely weak, limit — and a workable plan to achieve that target — all before the UN climate summit begins on the first Sunday in Advent in Paris.”

Taking a shot at Conservative advertisements that targeted Trudeau as not ready to lead, Gunn said, “Canadians massively decided that Justin is ready. Now we need to see if a Liberal government is.”

Ryan Worms, communications director for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, said he hopes the new Liberal government will “restore a stronger dialogue with civil society with definite international development goals and strategies and that we will also get back to a level of funding that will allow Canada to meet expectations. We hope the needs of the poorest in the global south will be at the centre of the new government’s concerns.”

Worms noted the Liberal Party seemed more “open to dialogue” and willing “to find real strong solutions to fight climate change” and “to commit” to a binding agreement in upcoming talks. “We will continue our campaign mobilization in the coming weeks and we hope that the Catholic mobilization around the issues of protecting our common home will be taken into account by the new government and in their position in Paris in December.”

As for the NDP, which had polled well until the final weeks of the election campaign, Andrea Mrozek sees a positive message in the repudiation of its $15-a-day national day care pledge.

“Nobody voted for national day care,” said Mrozek, executive director of the Institute of Marriage and Family. “That is a clear statement that this is not the type of child care program that families want.”

While the IMFC supported the Tories plan for income-splitting for families, Mrozek said the “Liberal plan on help for parents is actually more complicated than the Conservative plan, but it does involve financial support that goes directly to parents. So I hope the idea of national day care is laid to rest. When you ask parents what they want to do, they don’t prefer this form of care.”

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