Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 30, 2006
Election results won't quell moral concerns
Euthanasia, same-sex 'marriage' issues won't go away
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The narrow Conservative election victory Jan. 23 was a rejection of Prime Minister Paul Martin's values, but may bring only a temporary respite from disturbing social trends, say pro-family groups.
"Mr. Martin used same-sex marriage and abortion to paint the Tories as rabid right-wingers - while conveniently ignoring the dozens of social conservatives among his own MPs who sided against his policy," said Calgary Bishop Fred Henry.
"Reminiscent of Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, Martin distanced himself even further from the teaching of the Church on the right to life of the unborn," Henry said in a Jan. 24 email.
Martin, in the latter days of the campaign, had zeroed in on abortion as a Canadian value and accused the Tories of having a hidden agenda to remove abortion rights.
Former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien, co-chair of Vote Marriage Canada, described Martin's tactic as desperate.
"I think that was the low point of his political career, when he was using moral issues in direct contradiction to what his beliefs as a Catholic ought to be," said O'Brien, who is also Catholic. "He's ended his career not standing up for the moral values I believe he should have stood up for, and yet he still lost."
Turning the tide
Whether the new Parliament can turn the tide on contentious issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion-on-demand, or euthanasia remains to be seen.
Some, like O'Brien, are cautiously optimistic. "I'm hopeful that we have elected a Parliament that in a free vote would restore the traditional definition of marriage," said O'Brien, who points out that 123 of the 211 candidates Vote Marriage endorsed were elected.
He also said former cabinet ministers forced to vote for same-sex marriage may change their position if new Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds the promised free vote on marriage.
"If those people hold true to what they have said in the past about their personal moral beliefs, and they're no longer ministers, they should be voting with us," O'Brien said.
Campaign Life Coalition's (CLC) national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas sees minority status as "a disaster for the country," because the Conservatives will be "hogtied."
On a positive note, the number of pro-life MPs went up. "We have more prolife MPs than ever before," she said.
Prolife MPs may not be able to do much, though, because Harper has said he will not reopen the abortion debate.
"Mr. Harper is going to have to learn that he will not always have the luxury of playing peek-a-boo with life issues," said Henry. "The government cannot be neutral on the question of abortion."
"It either recognizes the child in the womb as a person, entitled to the protection of law, or it doesn't," he said. Leaving the question open "is itself a decision, not neutrality, and a matter of public policy."
"The law must protect all innocent persons from assault: children from abuse, women from rape, babies from slaughter," he said. "The morality of not abusing, not raping, and of not murdering, a fellow human being is not 'my morality' or 'our morality' but morality itself."
Euthanasia and assisted suicide remain a threat.
"This is no time to relax and be complacent," Euthanasia Prevention Coalition's executive director Alex Schadenberg warned in a Jan. 24 news release.
He points out that Harper has said he opposes euthanasia, but he would allow a free vote if a private members' bill comes up.
Liberals and Tories are divided on the issue, and perhaps only a few NDP MPs would vote against euthanasia, he said.
Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde, who submitted an assisted suicide bill in the last Parliament, has been re-elected.
O'Brien said he was disappointed more pro-marriage candidates didn't get elected in Atlantic Canada, where family values remain strong.
"Economic issues are normally the overriding factor in how people vote," he said, noting that remarks Harper once made about a culture of defeat in the region may have hurt him.
Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said Canada's major cities supported "progressive" parties, either the Liberals or NDP, but other parts of the country showed they wanted to "pause" on advancing a "libertine" agenda.
"The need to restore stable communities, including a true understanding of marriage, strong families and accountable government are among the many issues people considered when they voted," Horgan said in a Jan. 24 news release.
Letter to the Editor - 02/27/06