Elsie Wayne

Elsie Wayne

Former federal Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest and Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes do not agree on much, but they did about the tenaciousness and courage of Elsie Wayne, the former MP from Saint John, N.B., who died August 23 at the age of 84.

Charest, a Red Tory, became leader of the PCs following the Liberal rout in 1993 when the governing Progressive Conservatives were reduced to a two-person caucus of himself and Wayne. Charest told the CBC following her death that he admired Wayne’s dedication and courage when fighting for the causes in which she believed. He praised Wayne’s “willingness to fight and the courage to do so,” saying “even if from time to time she may have said things that she may have wished to say differently, she dared to do it … and fight very hard” for what she believed in. CLC’s Hughes admired the same traits in the three-term MP. “She was a staunch and outspoken defender of all human life,” Hughes told The Interim.

Wayne was one of the original co-chairs of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus (PPLC) in the 1990s and early 2000s and a regular speaker at the National March for Life in Ottawa. In 2000, Wayne told The Interim abortion is not a partisan issue and that she looked forward to working with MPs from all parties on the issue. She said there were parliamentarians from various parties working in the PPLC “who see this as an important issue, that life begins at conception, and that we will continue to work to protect unborn children.”

In 2002, she told those in attendance of the March for Life in Ottawa that the unborn should have rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Certainly I don’t think that at any time anyone ever thought that a little child in the womb was not to have any rights, or anyone to care for him.” At a press conference before the March, she told journalists, “every MP needs to take a stand for the protection of the unborn.”

Fr. Tony Van Hee, who has prayed and fasted on Parliament Hill since 1989 for an end to abortion, told LifeSiteNews, “Canada weeps the loss of such a one as she,” and, quoting Shakespeare, “’now cracks a noble heart,’ (in) the words of Horatio upon Hamlet’s death.” Fr. Van Hee also praised her strength, dignity, and sense of humour.

When Van Hee was removed from his regular location near the Parliament Buildings to a spot closer to Wellington Street near the Eternal Flame, Wayne defended the priest and questioned why he would be moved. She visited with him regularly and said that he preached what every MP was elected to do: protect all Canadians, including the unborn.

Wayne was also outspoken on marriage and family. During the marriage debate in 2003, a homosexual activist launched a human rights complaint against Wayne for her comments about same-sex “marriage” and gay pride events. Wayne said, “Why are they in parades? Why are they dressed up as women in floats? You don’t see us getting up on floats, for heaven’s sake, to say we’re husband and wife. We don’t do that. So why do you have to go around getting a whole lot of publicity? For heaven’s sake. If they’re going to live together, go live together and shut up about it.” One of her Progressive Conservative colleagues, Scott Brison –an openly homosexual MP and now a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government – called for her resignation. Her own leader, Joe Clark, distanced himself from her comments.

After endorsing the merger of the PC and Canadian Alliance parties, Wayne chose not to run for re-election. In 2009, she suffered a pair of strokes that left one side of her body paralyzed and afterward eschewed publicity.

Wayne is survived by her husband Richard and sons Daniel and Stephen.