Pro-life MP Peter Goldring feels betrayed by Liberal colleague who misled him to join a pro-abortion association of parliamentarians.

Pro-life Conservative MP Peter Goldring (Edmonton East) told The Interim he was furious at being misled about the nature of a parliamentarians’ association he agreed to become a vice-chair for after it was presented to him as a group dedicated to population and development issues, but which turned out to be focused narrowly on abortion and contraception.

On March 22, just weeks after being elected to become the vice-chair of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, he sent his letter of resignation from both the position of second vice-chair and the association. He informed the CAPPD’s chair, MP Raymonde Folco (BQ, Laval—Les Îles) that he was under the impression that the association’s mandate was to examine the “broad range of Millennium Development Goals,” including ending poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, HIV/malaria, the environment and global aid.

But, after reviewing the CAPPD constitution and other documents that were not available to him before joining the association, as well as taking into consideration a steering committee meeting in preparation for a Global Parliamentarians Summit in June, he said he realized that their priority of “increasing … access to abortion does not address” other important issues to improve the lives of people in the developing world.

He told The Interim he has worked with Folco before on the Canada-Caribbean Parliamentary Interchange and other committees and that he felt betrayed in lending his name, party affiliation and credentials to an association bent on promoting abortion. While he said it was possible that his background with homelessness, health and democratic development issues made him an ideal candidate for joining the association’s executive, he believes that his colleague knows him well enough that she should have been aware that CAPPD’s promotion of abortion would cause him problems.

Goldring said Folco sold him on the idea of joining CAPPD’s executive under the guise that the association addressed poverty and other MDGs. Folco, Goldring explained, asked if she could put his name forward as second vice-chair and he agreed, but could not make the meeting in which his nomination was approved.

During a conference call, he said that participants were “very careful” not to use the words abortion and reproductive health and instead “were fixated on women’s health issues” and “access to proper health facilities.” He asked Folco about this focus and she assured him that the CAPPD would not get into abortion advocacy.

In early March, he began to think something was afoul when he attempted to learn more about the CAPPD. “There were alarm bells,” he said about when he asked for material from the group and none was forthcoming. As he began to research the association, he garnered information about the group’s affiliations, including a European parliamentary group started by Planned Parenthood, as well as various local (Canadian) Planned Parenthood groups.

He was concerned about the affiliated groups’ promotion of population control as a form of poverty alleviation and noticed the liberal use of the phrase “reproductive health,” code term for abortion and contraception promotion among various non-governmental organizations and international bodies. Indeed, the constitution of the CAPPD links it to the activities of the United Nations Population Fund, which supports Red China’s one-child policy.

The last straw was reading the CAPPD constitution, which stated that all members are expected to uphold the “right to choose.” “I decided enough was enough and resigned,” Goldring explained. He said he was “profoundly disappointed,” because the focus on abortion prevented them from “doing the good work they could be doing and which is so desperately needed.”

He said that, “It is hard enough to bring members of different parties together” and that these experiences “destroy the trust” that does exist. He said it would be difficult to work with Folco in the future after the “entirely unnecessary dragging in of people like me in a sneaky, con-artist way.”

He said had he not been vigilant, his name would be attached to statements and the other work of the CAPPD that promoted abortion.

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, said she agreed with Goldring that the CAPPD wanted him for window dressing: “I think Mr. Goldring was quite correct in thinking that they wanted a pro-life MP on there to give them credibility and to continue to disguise what they were actually about.” Douglas added, “I don’t know how any pro-life politician can legitimately support this group.”

There are 28 MPs and senators who are members of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians for Population and Development, including numerous pro-abortion and socially liberal MPs in Parliament: Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul’s), Hedy Fry (Lib., Vancouver Centre), Marlene Jennings (Lib., Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine), Keith Martin (Lib., Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), Robert Oliphant (Lib., Don Valley West), Judy Sgro (Lib., York West) and Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP, Winnipeg North).

The CAPPD was founded in 1997 by then-Liberal MP Jean Augustine, a strong supporter of abortion who at the time was serving in Jean Chretien’s cabinet as minister of state for multiculturalism and the status of women. In 1993, Chretien parachuted the former Catholic school principal and Catholic Children’s Aid Society board member into Etobicoke-Lakeshore to scuttle the nomination of a pro-life Liberal in the riding. Augustine also served three terms as the chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus.