Nine pro-life MPs won’t seek re-election

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  • June 27, 2007
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The pro-life movement stands to lose some staunch political allies before the next federal election. Nine members of Parliament sympathetic to the cause have said they will not run again.
Among the Conservatives, six MPs have announced they will not be running again: Norman Doyle, Ken Epp, Brian Fitzpatrick, Myron Thompson, Garry Breitkreuz and John Williams. And from the Liberals, Tom Wappel, Ray Bonin and Paul Steckle will not run again.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said he will especially miss the former Reform party members, who came to Ottawa “as green as grass, but they were such a refreshing lot to be around” because of their desire to fully represent the views of their constituents.

“The Liberals we’re losing have stood up in their caucuses and fought against their own governments,” Hughes said. He described the loss of Wappel as “huge,” noting that even pro-life members on the other side of the House considered him a “pro-life elder statesman.”

{sidebar id=2} Hughes said Campaign Life will continue to do what it can to identify pro-life candidates from all parties and assist them in their nomination battles, but that job is becoming harder.

“It’s becoming much more difficult for the pro-life movement to identify the pro-life candidates,” Hughes said. Campaign Life relies on detailed questionnaires to identify the candidates’ positions. He said Conservative candidates have been told not to fill them out.

“This means the public is being kept in the dark about where candidates stand.”

Though there were rumours during the 2006 federal election that Tory candidates were told to avoid controversial issues, Tory spokespersons have denied there is any formal directive on questionnaires. Many vocally pro-life candidates, however, were markedly quiet on the issue during the election campaign.

“I’ve never seen anything in terms of a prohibition, a ban or a statement,” said Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, though he acknowledged that individual MPs may choose not to answer questionnaires because there are so many of them from so many different groups. Vellacott said he personally fills out the pro-life questionnaires, though he noted they can be time-consuming in the heat of a campaign.

“I’ve never been chided or told that I should not fill one out,” he said.

Vellacott co-chairs the Parliamentary Pro-life Caucus with Steckle.

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