Pat Binns, Prince Edward Island’s new premier, has consistently voted pro-life, both federally and provincially. “I believe that human life is sacred. I have always felt that it is our duty to protect it,” he says. He credits his upbringing for these views.

Binns grew up in Lloydminster, Alberta. When he came to PEI as a summer exchange student, he could hardly have foreseen that he would meet his future wife Carol MacMillan here, and that 25 years later he would be premier of the province.

It wasn’t just a pro-life stance that brought Binns to victory in the November 1996 election. His record of public service goes back to 1971, when he graduated at 23 from the University of Alberta, with a Master of Arts degree in community development.

The next year, Binns and several other young people began intensive work at the grass-roots level for PEI’s brand new Rural Development Council. Over the next few years, he helped set in place numerous community structures that still contribute strongly to island life.

Not taking credit

Many people have forgotten that Binns was so involved in these projects, says Harry O’Connell, the man who first brought him to PEI. “Pat Binns is not one to take credit himself. He lets the people take the credit for their decisions and actions.”

O’Connell notes with satisfaction that in 1978 Binns, still only 30 years old, received the Queen’s Silver Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

That same year, Binns entered politics as a Conservative. He won three consecutive provincial elections and held several cabinet positions before moving on to win a federal seat in 1984.

The put him in the House of Commons at the height of the abortion issue. “It was not difficult to be a pro-life politician. But it was difficult to convince others of my beliefs,” Binns says of those years.

When he lost his seat in the contentious Free Trade election of f1988, Binns withdrew from politics. He devoted the next eight years to consulting, farming, and helping Carol raise the children. Today their daughter and three sons are young adults, three still pursuing their education.

For a decade, the Liberals virtually controlled PEI politics. For 1993 to 1996, the Conservatives had only one elected member. Despite that, Binns re-entered the political arena as party leader, and led the Conservatives to a decisive victory this past fall.

On November 27, 1996 Patrick George Binns was sworn in as Premier.

He faces many difficulties. “Current financial constraint and cutbacks will make it difficult to serve the people and the community in the way he would like to,” says retired Deputy Minister Charles Campbell.

Says long-time friend and colleague Harry O’Connell, “Pat is not a high pressure salesman, but a facilitator. He is very perceptive in terms of group dynamics and gets the best out of the group. He is deeply convinced that people who feel they have contributed to the process have a greater commitment to the outcome.”

The attitude is evident even in his decision to involve party back benchers in as much actual government work as possible.

No quick fixes

“Binns has the strength of character to stand back from an issue and really study it. He does not look for the quick fix, but for lasting solutions,” notes O’Connell.

“He has moral strength too,” he adds. “Power doesn’t influence his decisions. He’s not affected by the title or role of the person in front of him. To him, each is an individual of value.”

For years, Henry Morgentaler has been trying to change the province’s anti-abortion stand. His persistent campaigns have frequently been insulting to both the people and the politicians of this province. The Liberal government staunchly resisted all his efforts. Binns says, “I will continue this line as an individual position, and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

Canada has travelled rapidly down the slippery slope of abortion and euthanasia since Binns first became involved in public life. The thoughtful advice he offers to those concerned about this trend is succinct and timely.

“Be vigilant,” he advises.

Schedule permitting, Binns hopes to make at least a quick visit to the national pro-life convention in Charlottetown, June 26-28.

That conference has adopted the theme Sanctuary of Life, reflecting the fact the PEI is the only abortion-free province in all of Canada. The conference will feature political, educational and youth components.

Noted researcher Dr. Joel Brind of Baruch College in New York is one of the confirmed speakers. Mr. Brind has drawn praise – and criticism from pro-abortion supporters – for his efforts to demonstrate the link between abortion and breast cancer. Father Tom Lynch of St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto is a second confirmed speaker.