On May 2, Canadians will go to the polls to elect members of the 41st Parliament and, even now, the mainstream media is shaping the simplified story that will be told about the day’s results. The upcoming election will be taken as some sort of referendum about the incumbent government and, with no more precision than the ancient augurers, a legion of commentators will scrutinize the entrails of the electoral results, making deft and definite pronouncements upon what historians will debate for decades.
For pro-life Canadians, however, May 2 will be a very different day. For us, the main concern will not be about the results, but rather about the process; our central question will not be “Who won?” but rather: “Did I support the local pro-life candidate in my riding?” Leaving grand narratives to the self-described experts, these conscientious Canadians will concern themselves with what was in their power to achieve and, regardless of the night’s final results, they will be able to reflect with pleasure on their own individual actions.
Such is the blessing and the curse of so-called single-issue voters: that while stories about the ultimate results will be invariably fixed by others, our own personal actions will remain all-important. Rejecting the quietism of “common sense” which ranks moral issues of equal worth with other policy matters such as the economy, crime and foreign policy, these voters will educate themselves about their candidates stances on the issues of abortion, euthanasia, same-sex “marriage,” and the like, aware that this kind of self-education is already a powerful form of pro-life activism. And, in cases where groups such as Campaign Life Coalition have already reliably ascertained this information, they will publicize it among their family, friends, and parishioners.
The priority of the pro-life cause, of course, produces many apparent contradictions, like having to support parties and candidates that would otherwise be odious to our individual tastes. Yet, on May 2, the pro-life issue will trump party affiliation: there will be many ardent conservatives that pull the proverbial lever for their local Liberal party candidate because of the pro-life position that they share. Similarly, pro-lifers who support generous social programs will find themselves voting for small-government candidates because abortion is the greatest violation of social justice imaginable, and there can be no social safety net if there is no safety for citizens in the womb. What’s more, pro-life Canadians will gladly embrace the seeming contradictions of conscientious voting, because the pro-life issue transcends the trivial distinctions of the political spectrum.
In fact, although pundits often wax rhapsodically about a coming utopia of bi-partisan and even post-partisan politics, in actual fact, this phenomenon has already existed for years as the strategy they denigrate with the name “single-issue voting” — a term its practitioners should proudly accept. Pro-life Canadians are, indeed, single-issue voters, because, in comparison, there is no other issue. The continuing violation of the most basic human right — the right to life — is not a problem of the same moral order as high taxes or high unemployment. The scandal of the continuing legality of prenatal infanticide in Canada is more shocking than the most flagrant misuse of political power. Simply put, the toleration of abortion debases the public realm. Indeed, there can be no political discourse so long as such a clear moral outrage remains legal.
We cannot expect our compromised political culture to heal itself. What was legalized by a few and has been tolerated by too many will only be remedied by a motivated minority that does not accept the spurious permanence of the status quo. Therefore, it falls to us –to pro-life Canadians of all walks of life — to form a conscientious consensus that will not tolerate the legalized extinguishing of the nascent sparks of human life, nor accept the false premise that only the young and able-bodied enjoy the full protection of the law, nor recognize the state’s specious attempt to redefine marriage as anything other than the sacred union between one man and one woman. We can accept nothing less.
We must, therefore, lead where our leaders have failed. It is true that many courageous and committed politicians have fought the good fight, and have struggled for the pro-life cause with integrity and at great personal cost. But even this brave, small cadre represents only the first turning of Canada’s maple leaf, the primavera of our nation’s new spring. There will come a time when pro-life politicians are not the exception, but the rule. And that time will come only when we, as a movement, accept no compromises from those we send to Ottawa.
In other seasons of the political calendar, we, as pro-life Canadians are called to win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens at the occasions they can. But when the occasion to intervene on behalf of the unborn presents itself so clearly, as election day looms, we must exercise our most basic duty as citizens in a democracy, using the most pointed and potent form of political activism there is: we must vote pro-life.