This year’s annual pronouncement ran in the National Post shortly following the floor-crossing of several MLAs from the Wild Rose Party to the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta. The party’s then-leader, Danielle Smith, explained that this move was motivated, in part, by her sense that the “party membership was going in a direction that was different than I wanted to go.” But, even though Smith’s opportunistic defection to the provincial government’s winning team has proved to be stunningly unpopular, drawing denunciations from across the political spectrum, the Post’s reporter was prompted to make a rather counterintuitive observation: that “social conservatism as a political force appears to be spent.”
This is quite a strange conclusion given the fact that a majority of Canadians repeatedly tell pollsters that they would support some kind of legal limit on abortion; furthermore, the upwards of three-quarters of Canadians want abortion defunded and nine-in-ten people oppose sex-selective abortion. Yet, setting aside the well-established popularity of such restrictions, one can admit that recent news has not been good. Last year, Justin Trudeau declared no quarter for the many faithful members and courageous MPs of the Liberal Party who are pro-life, and Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has repeatedly quashed the introduction of even the most modest legislation that would provide protection for the unborn.
However, the pro-life movement is no stranger to politicians who either oppose or just ignore the will of the people on this issue. Indeed, had the Post’s reporter been a little more curious, she might have noticed a theme emerging from the political landscape she surveyed: from Justin Trudeau’s imperious decree, to New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant’s removal of all restrictions on abortion, to Danielle Smith’s own defection from a (moderately) socially conservative party, to the NDP’s tradition of leaders tolerating no dissent from the party line, the common denominator in all of these cases is a single politician setting the tune to which the public is expected to dance.
Evidently, neither journalists nor politicians can imagine why the pro-life movement doesn’t just politely surrender to the consensus of aristocratic opinion. In a recent conversation with a reporter, Smith implied that she decided to turn her back on her constituents (and turn the colours of her coat) when she saw “a party dominated by those who don’t want to continue the evolution to become a more broad-based mainstream party.” And the reporter for the Post, in evident sympathy with Smith’s frustration draws, from recent events, the contentious lesson that “no political party, conservative or otherwise, is going to risk alienating voters to champion highly divisive, morally contentious pet issues” – despite the fact that the Wildrose party that Smith abandoned had been doing just that.
In the minds of many cultural commentators, and a large swath of political elites, our movement is condemned. But, in fact, we are only condemned to endure their disdain, and suffer their predicable surprise at our continued existence, simply because our commitment to the pro-life cause fails to fit the story they tell themselves. They see the history of such issues as abortion, gay “marriage,” and euthanasia as a slow lurch from a long-lingering dark age into a socially liberal enlightenment which is always just over the bright horizon’s ever-elusive cusp.
Such narratives, however, struggle to come to grips with the very facts they trumpet. For instance, one perennial problem is the constantly shifting end date of Canada’s dark age: didn’t true freedom already come to our nation in 1969 Omnibus Bill? Or will it only arrive when the last ribbon is cut for the final transgendered bathroom? An even more troublesome conundrum, unexplained in the endless obituaries of our movement, is how we have been able to survive for so long without adhering to the approved opinions of our country’s bien pensants.
And so, rather than seeing a large, tenacious, and motivated political constituency, our media elites and our pusillanimous politicians must continually discover that the slow death of our unfashionable movement is continually being deferred. Because the positions we affirm have been deemed too outré for the serious considerations of our rulers and the chattering classes, our burial shroud is constantly cut by the commentariat; however, it must be re-tailored every year as we continue to survive, thrive, and grow.
We in the pro-life movement look forward to being eulogized next year, in postmortems which will surely follow our recruitment, come election time, into the frenzied fretting of our misguided media minders who will try to whip up the public into a state of nervous excitement simply because we still believe that abortion is wrong, that true marriage is fruitful, faithful, and complimentary, and that the weak and the elderly deserve legal protection. In the meantime – indeed, in the interim of which this paper is an ongoing record – we will continue to proclaim the inviolate sacredness of human life from the time of conception until natural death, the sanctity of marriage, and the human rights of our fellow man.