During an election swing through Metropolitan Toronto, David Peterson stepped on to a subway train and found that abortion had become an election issue. Just as the Premier boarded the train, so did some 15 pro-lifers who joined him holding placards protesting the Premier’s abortion policies. On Thursday, September 10, Ontario voters go to the polls and pro-life groups are using all kinds of tactics to raise the issue, promote pro-life candidates and target pro-abortionists.
Part of the election strategy of Campaign Life Coalition is to picket Peterson at his major election appearances. Peterson has been the centre of pro-life protests for almost two years. Pro-lifers have been upset at the Liberal’s refusal to close the two illegal abortuaries operating in Toronto.
This refusal to act comes after Peterson promised during the 1985 election campaign to support measures to close the Morgentaler abortuary. The ire of pro-lifers was further raised when the Liberals appointed pro-abortion lobbyist Marion Powell to produce a report on abortion access. Following Marion Powell’s study, the Minister of Health, Murray Elston, hired her to implement the recommendation in her report and pressure hospitals into performing more abortions.
There are numerous indications that Peterson’s Liberals will win a majority on September 10. “A most distressing part of any Peterson sweep is that such a victory could not occur if pro-lifers refused to support this pro-abortion government,” said Campaign Life Coalition co-ordinator, Paul Dodds. If pro-life activists remain silent in this campaign, explained Mr. Dodds, “abortion will not be an issue and many pro-life people will inadvertently vote for a pro-abortion candidate.” Consequently, pro-lifers have been picketing Peterson during his election stops.
As the picketing of Peterson continues, the question of what is the alternative is frequently put to pro-life workers. The new and exciting aspect of this election is the presence of the Family Coalition Party which is staunchly pro-life and pro-family. Although formed only six months ago, the FCP is running 31 candidates across the province.
The FCP candidates include a psychiatric nurse, who recently organized a post-abortion counseling network in Ottawa; a former school board trustee (and a Liberal Party member) running in Toronto; and two physicians. “I am impressed by the qualifications, the conviction and the courage of the individuals who are running as our candidates,” said party leader Don Pennel.
None of the three major parties is pro-life. Indeed the leader of each of these parties is calling for an increase in abortions, by widening access. In most ridings there is no FCP candidate and pro-lifer votes are caught in a dilemma. “When none of the parties is pro-life, the position of the individual candidates is mot important” explained Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes. He explained that each party needs a number of courageous and sincere MPPs who will break with party policy and actively promote the rights of unborn children.
Campaign Life Coalition has presented all the election candidates with a pro-life statement on abortion. Pro-life workers have been meeting with their candidates, seeking their views on the abortion issue. Candidates are asked to adopt as their own the following statement:
“I am opposed to the direct killing of nay unborn child. Therefore, I support measures intended to protect unborn children by ending access to abortion. The Ontario government must not open any new abortion facilities. It must immediately close the two illegal private abortuaries in Toronto and must stop all funding of abortion.”
It is a toughly worded statement, explains Mr. Hughes because past experience has shown the need to determine which candidates are solidly pro-life. “Only committed pro-life individuals can withstand the pro-abortion pressure which comes from the party leaders once one is elected. Those who are anything less than courageous simply buckle under the pressure and would not do anything to promote the pro0-life cause in the Legislature.” Said Mr. Hughes.
The Liberal Party has already ordered its candidates not to sign questionnaires from any special interest groups. Voters will soon learn whether there are any Liberal candidates who are willing to go against their party leadership in order to speak up on behalf of unborn children.
It has not escaped the notice of Campaign Life Coalition that the Liberals have nominated an extraordinarily high number of people with Catholic credentials. “As you read the qualifications of the Liberal candidates, it looks like some kind of who’s who of Catholic education,” said Ontario coordinator Dodds, “they have everyone from teachers to trustees running.” So far, none of these Liberals has been willing to break with party policy and take a pro-life position.
In many ridings there will be no pro-life candidate running and Campaign Life Coalition is urging people in such ridings to exercise their right to refuse a ballot or spoil it rather than just not bothering to go and vote. Spoiling a ballot involved the voter marking his ballot in such a way that it cannot be counted as a vote for any candidate. Refusing a ballot involves the voter refusing to accept the ballot from the polling clerk. The number of refused ballots must be recorded and the voter is given an opportunity to explain why the ballot is being refused.
“Spoiling or refusing a ballot may not be very satisfying, but it is our most effective strategy in ridings where none of the candidates is pro-life,” said Mr. Hughes. The need for such action was best summed up by a woman who spoke to Mr. Hughes at a pro-life Rally held last year in Vancouver. The woman told Hughes, “For years I’ve been voting for the lesser of two evils and now all I’m left with is evil.”