GretaUNtoonAndrew Scheer has been a disappointing Conservative leader. For pro-life and pro-family Canadians, he has not lived up to the promise of his stellar voting record as a long-time MP. Some pro-lifers were hoping that despite his repeated avowal to not reopen the abortion issue, he would allow the many pro-life members of the Conservative caucus and swelling ranks pro-life candidates in the general election to act on their consciences and represent their pro-life constituents. But following his August 29 press conference, that hope seems dashed.

At that press conference, Scheer said he would “ensure” his backbench MPs would not reopen the abortion issue and that he would personally “oppose” any such effort. He did not flesh out what that meant, but any pro-lifer who still believes that Scheer might use the loophole that a Conservative government would not act to end the slaughter of approximately 100,000 preborn Canadians every year is putting faith in a leader who has been adamant he will not. In other words, any hope that Scheer would allow a parliamentary debate about the large-scale, persistent human rights abuse that is abortion, is based on the hope that Scheer will break his word.

Scheer’s position prior to the disastrous press conference was one that many pro-life Canadians made peace with, even if they were not entirely happy about it: the government would not reopen the abortion issue, but (presumably) MPs could introduce pro-life private member’s bills and motions. That is apparently off the table. What are pro-life voters to do?

Well, the answer is simple. Vote for pro-life candidates regardless of party. That has been the counsel of this paper since it was founded in 1983. Where there is more than one pro-life candidate, one may consider other issues (the economy, health care, taxes), including strategic ones (winnability). Political leadership and party platforms are important, but the fact is in the Westminster system we inherited from the United Kingdom, every general election is actually a series of elections. We do not vote for prime minister or party; we vote for MP. There are 338 elections for MP. For there to be any realistic chance to pass pro-life legislation, we need a majority (169). In all likelihood, we’ll need more than that. That majority begins by electing pro-life MPs today.

Electing a pro-life MP today, regardless of party, increases the odds that he or she will be there when there is a vote on pro-life legislation, whether it is in the next Parliament or some future one. Party leaders change. Party platforms change, too. And while MPs retire or are defeated, many serve multiple terms. Better to put a pro-lifer in elected office today, even if the leader is disappointing or the party platform is flawed, than stand in the way of electing a pro-life majority — eventually.

But electing pro-abortion MPs or those who simply do not care about the issue because he or she belongs to a party less objectionable than, say, the governing Liberals, is also a mistake. Do not eschew voting for pro-life candidates from the Christian Heritage Party or People’s Party of Canada, because it is widely believed they cannot be elected or that the only hope to turf the stridently pro-abortion Liberals is to vote Conservative. We understand the frustration with the Trudeau government, but electing a slew of pro-abortion Tories is not the answer.

Pro-life candidates deserve the support of pro-life voters. And the votes that unabashedly pro-life candidates receive send a strong message to the so-called mainstream parties that run away from so-called “divisive” social issues; they will realize that eschewing debate on some of the most important issues facing Canada divides their party from a sizable but too often silent portion of the electorate that understands issues like abortion can never be settled as long as the injustice endures.

What about the many ridings in which there is no pro-life candidate? In the past, this paper has followed the lead of Campaign Life Coalition, which has suggested strategies that include rejecting the ballot, spoiling the ballot by writing “no pro-life candidate” on it, or voting to defeat pro-abortion incumbents. Recently, CLC has encouraged pro-lifers to not vote for any candidate who is not pro-life. It cheapens our vote when he abandon our principles just because the parties refuse to give pro-lifers candidates they can support. Not voting pro-life can mean rejecting the ballot, writing “no pro-life candidate” (although we understand party scrutineers no longer relay this information to their campaigns), or staying home (but calling the local candidates and letting them know you did not vote for them because he or she was not pro-life).

Our votes are precious. But we should not give them away lightly. We encourage prayer before making the decision to vote and to consult the website created by Campaign Life Coalition to determine who is deserving of our votes on Oct. 21. On that day, vote wisely and prudently. Vote pro-life.