Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 13, 2008
Pro-life leaders dismayed Harper Tories have abandoned them
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Though Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is often charged with having a hidden agenda, pro-life voters have grown increasingly disappointed that he has no agenda at all on their concerns.
So disappointed that Catholic Insight magazine editor Father 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. He only wants 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 worse than the Conservatives.
McGill University religious studies professor Douglas Farrow, who co-edited Divorcing Marriage, said he too would vote against Harper if he lived in his riding if there were another choice.
“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 Farrow 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.
Even the present economic crisis has roots in a healthy civil society, he said. “You’re not going to have a sound economy for very long if you don’t have a sound moral base.”
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.
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 and or drugs like marijuana; and whether the party wants to introduce a “Soviet-style” daycare system, she said.
“When we look at all the issues 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.”
In her group’s experience testifying before parliamentary committees, they get the most hostile responses from the Bloc Quebecois, the New Democrats and the Liberals, Watts said.
But REAL Women, like Campaign Life Coalition, (CLC) urges voters to consider the best candidate regardless of party affiliation.
Voting their consciences
“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,” said CLC president Jim Hughes.
Despite slim political pickings for pro-life and pro-family voters, the leaders feel a growing momentum for their causes.
De Valk said abortion has been discussed during this campaign far more than in the previous two elections. He also noted the growing support of Canada’s Catholic bishops and strong pro-life editorials in Catholic newspapers.
After 30 years of letting “social justice people” set the theme in Catholic circles, leaving abortion in eighth or ninth place, abortion is coming back as “the most important social justice issue,” de Valk said.