Former prime minister John Diefenbaker was nothing, if not steadfast in his resolve. “When the going gets tough,” he used to exclaim, “the tough get going.”

It’s an adage that Canadian pro-lifers would do well to remember. For those who stand up in Canada and proclaim their support of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death in Canada, the going is sometimes tough.

In many respects, our pro-life counterparts in the United States are more fortunate. For the past seven years, they have had the outspoken support of President George W. Bush. In proclaiming National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2007 on Jan. 19, he said: “I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not felt able to offer any such encouragement to pro-lifers in Canada. During the last federal election, he pledged that his government “won’t be initiating or supporting abortion legislation, and I’ll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn’t come to a vote.” Harper, alas, has been true to these words. Under his leadership, as for the past 30 years, Parliament has enacted no law whatsoever to curtail abortion.

During this same period, pro-life legislators in the United States have been making significant gains. With the backing of the Bush administration, the United States Congress has enacted the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004.

More than half the state legislatures in the United States have enacted laws prohibiting partial-birth abortions. Granted, these laws have all been struck down by the courts. However, some of these rulings might themselves soon be overturned. Thanks to the judicial appointments of President Bush, the United States Supreme Court could be just one vote short of having a reliable pro-life majority.

In contrast, there does not appear to be a single pro-lifer among the nine justices currently serving on the Supreme Court of Canada. Our top court is so in thrall to the culture of death, that it could soon legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide as well as abortion on demand.

Given all the bad news for the pro-life movement in Canada, what should Canadian pro-lifers do? Give up in despair and retreat into silence? Most certainly not.

We should strive all the harder to speak out and act as best we can in defence of the imperilled lives of the unborn, the sick and the handicapped. And in doing so, we should take heart from some encouraging signs of a rebirth in respect for the sanctity of human life in Canada.

One of those positive signs is the feebleness of Canadians for Choice, a successor to the defunct Canadian Abortion Rights Action League. Over the past two years, Canadians for Choice has managed to publish just two press releases on its meagre website, both deploring the growing strength and achievements of the Canadian pro-life movement.

Specifically, Canadians for Choice laments that “only one in every six hospitals in Canada offers accessible abortion services.” The pro-abortion agency is especially concerned that the death-dealing procedure was made available in only 17 per cent of the hospitals in Ontario during 2006, down from 23 per cent just three years earlier.

Correspondingly, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), the political arm of the pro-abortion movement, is alarmed over the number of pro-lifers in Parliament. ARCC claims that “at least 63 per cent of Conservative MPs and 21 per cent of Liberal MPs” are publicly pro-life. It warns that the proportion of MPs who would favour a ban on at least partial-birth abortions is probably much higher.

For pro-lifers, this is exceedingly good news. With the Harper Conservatives poised to possibly form a majority government in the next federal election, it’s essential for pro-lifers to put partisanship aside and make a concerted effort to support whichever pro-life candidate in their constituency stands the best chance of getting elected.

Sooner, perhaps, than later, the happy day will come when Canada will once again have a pro-life majority in Parliament.