Pro-life leaders sour on Harper

  • October 8, 2008
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Though Conservative Leader Stephen Harper faced hidden agenda charges during the election campaign, pro-life voters have grown increasingly disappointed that he has none.

So disappointed Catholic Insight magazine editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk called for Harper’s defeat in his Calgary Southwest riding.
De Valk issued the call after Harper told the news media he would not allow his government to reopen the abortion debate and a spokesman added Harper would whip his cabinet to vote against any pro-life private members’ bills.

“I’m not saying don’t vote Conservative,” de Valk said in an interview Oct. 7, noting he was only calling for pro-life voters to send a message in the prime minister’s own riding. “The Liberals of course are hopeless,” he said, pointing out their pro-abortion agenda is even worse than the Conservatives.

McGill University religious studies professor Douglas Farrow, who co-edited Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment, said he too would vote against Harper if he lived in his riding if there were another choice, even though he said a Tory majority might be best for the country right now.

“If you can’t even see that protecting the unborn is your responsibility, then whatever wisdom you may have in dealing with the military or the economy or some other set of interests that the country rightly needs to have, you are not going to provide the kind of leadership the country needs,” Farrow said.

He described the Harper Conservatives as the least of the evils available now or for the foreseeable future and suspects that most pro-life and pro-family voters will “hold their noses and vote Conservative.” But he did not hold out any hope that even a majority Conservative government would do much towards renewing civil society’s chief building blocks: the family and the church and the Christian underpinning of Canada’s laws and institutions.

Diane Watts, a spokeswoman for REAL Women of Canada, says the pro-life, pro-family organization is “looking at the fine print” on a host of issues.

“Of course, we’re not really getting a very strong response to what we’ve been calling for in terms of family support,” she said. “We get items that head in the right direction.”

Watts described a “process of elimination.” REAL Women has issued a pamphlet and alerts that show where the three major national parties stand on a range of issues from safety/law and order, pornography, legalization (or not) of prostitution or drugs like marijuana, and whether the party wants to introduce a “Soviet-style” day care system, she said. They also look at what parties support assisted-suicide and euthanasia and which parties support special interest funding.

“When we look at all the issue and look at which parties are hostile to our position on the family, we have a pretty clear picture of who not to vote for,” she said, noting that in the group’s experience testifying before Parliamentary committees, they get the most hostile responses from the Bloc Quebecois, the New Democrats and the Liberals.

But REAL Women, like Campaign Life Coalition, urges voters to consider the best candidate regardless of party affiliation. 

Campaign Life, the political arm of the pro-life movement, has 30 years of experience in targeting and supporting pro-life candidates regardless of party affiliation, said president Jim Hughes. 

“As long as you’re electing pro-life candidates to the House of Commons, when controversial issues come up they will vote their consciences no matter what their leaders say,” he said.

CLC has put out a voter guide, run several ads, most recently naming the more than 100 MPs, Liberal and Conservative, who opposed the awarding of an Order of Canada to abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler. It also reports on the results of a voter questionnaire sent to each candidate.

Hughes said however, that some parties are not allowing or discouraging their candidates to answer the questionnaire. This lack of transparency in a democracy he said is troubling.

Despite the slim political pickings for pro-life and pro-family voters, pro-life leaders sense a growing momentum rather than marginalization. Hughes pointed out more people participated in the Life Chain Oct. 5 than ever before and the National March for Life has grown every year.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.