Two key figures in the recent Ontario Liberal Leadership race have shown their true colors on life and family issues.
Ottawa South MPP Dalton McGuinty, now leader of the party, had previously tried to appeal to pro-life Ontarians.
In an Interim interview during the race, McGuinty presented himself as a “moderate” on the abortion issue. Although he promised
“I’m a practicing Catholic,” he said, but I’m also a public representative, and that includes (representing) people of all faiths – even atheists – half of whom believe in a woman’s right to choose. The issue for me is: can I allow any one faith to impose its beliefs on all the others?” He then went on to outline what he sees as the common ground of the abortion debate – the problem of avoiding “unwanted pregnancies.”
On CBC Radio’s Metro Morning the day after becoming leader, however, McGuinty definitely sided with the pro-abortion camp. “It’s quite true that I am a Roman Catholic, but I can tell you that as a public representative, I represent Protestants, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and Roman Catholics – half of whom, by the way, believe in a women’s right to choose. I am not prepared to let any one religion impose its beliefs on the rest of the population. I believe in a woman’s right to choose.”
Although in both cases his language implies there is some conflict between his personal opinion and the opinion of his “pro-choice” constituents, in the second case McGuinty reveals that there really is no such conflict. As a result, some pro-lifers are wondering whether his references to Catholicism are nothing more than camouflage.
Campaign Life Coalition Canada Jim Hughes, for example, objects to McGuinty’s twisted logic. “What he’s saying, in effect, is this: “Half of my constituents are pro-life, and half of my constituents are pro-choice. It would be wrong of me to take sides. Therefore, I’m pro-choice.”
It is unclear, moreover, where McGuinty gets his public opinion statistics on abortion. Gallup Poll figures over the period between l989 and l995 indicate that about 70 percent of Canadians oppose the status quo of abortion-on-demand (the figures for Ontario are not dramatically different.
It is also unclear why McGuinty sees the abortion debate in religious terms. CLC’S Jim Hughes notes that pro-life arguments are not necessarily religious, and that reason alone will lead people to oppose abortion. “The right to life is a matter of fundamental justice, essential to any democratic, free society,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gerard Kennedy, the one-time favorite to leas the Ontario Liberals, proved slippery on the question of homosexual “marriage”.
It was reported in the November issue of The Interim that none of the seven leadership candidates supported a re-definition of marriage to include homosexual unions. Kennedy told The Interim’s reported that “marriage should be retained as a heterosexual institution.”
Within weeks of that interview, however, Kennedy appeared to contradict that position. In the October l8 issue of Capitol Xtra, a homosexual newspaper in Ottawa, Kennedy is quoted as saying he would “take full responsibility to make sure those measures could be brought back” if he were elected Premier. The heart of Bill l67 was a re-definition of “spouse”, which would have given homosexual couples what amounts to marital status.