Monte McNaughton (left) has been endorsed for Ontario PC leader by Campaign Life Coalition.  He has been a vocal leader against proposed sex-ed in the province.  Patrick Brown (right) has been endorsed for Ontario PC leader by Campaign Life Coalition. He has a perfect record on life and family issues.

Monte McNaughton (left) has been endorsed for Ontario PC leader by Campaign Life Coalition. He has been a vocal leader against proposed sex-ed in the province. Patrick Brown (right) has been endorsed for Ontario PC leader by Campaign Life Coalition. He has a perfect record on life and family issues.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will elect a new leader in May, but Campaign Life Coalition is reminding supporters to get their memberships before the February 28 deadline to be eligible to vote.

Former leader Tim Hudak resigned after the disappointing showing in last June’s Ontario provincial election, setting up a five-way battle to lead the Ontario PCs as it prepares for the 2018 election. Four MPPs and one MP have thrown their hat into the ring: Ontario Progressive Conservative MPPs Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa), Vic Fedeli (Nipissing), Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), and Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex), and MP Patrick Brown (Barrie).

Ontario residents with valid party memberships can vote May 3 and May 7 in a preferential ballot. The ballots will be counted and the winner announced May 9.

Votes will be weighted so that each of the province’s 107 ridings that has more than 100 votes cast are allocated 100 electoral votes, while ridings in which fewer than 100 party members vote will not be weighted (each vote will count as one point). If no candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the points, the lowest ranked candidate will be dropped from the next round and ballots will be counted until a candidate receives half of the vote.

Campaign Life Coalition has endorsed two candidates, Brown and McNaughton. CLC says that both respect the sanctity of human life and both have spoken out against the Liberal government’s early sex education plans for the province’s elementary schools.

McNaughton, who has paid to distribute membership forms in the current Interim, has been outspoken against the government’s secretiveness surrounding the curriculum and phoney parental consultation process. CLC has called his leadership on the issue – he is the only sitting MPP to question the government about sex ed – “heroic in his vocal opposition.”

McNaughton has also talked to CLC about life issues and they have deemed him supportable.

Brown has a perfect record during his 11 years as a federal MP. He has voted for the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, a bill banning coercive abortion, a motion calling for a debate about preborn life, and to repeal anti-free speech provisions of the federal Human Rights Act. He has voted against euthanasia and the bathroom bill.

Some pro-lifers were concerned last year when Brown indicated he would prevent MPPs from bringing forth pro-life initiatives at Queen’s Park, but he has explained to CLC that the media misreported his remarks. Brown explained that he would not put forward government bills on abortion but would not stand in the way of MPPs raising the issue, including with private members bills. On the basis of the clarification, CLC found Brown supportable.

The other three candidates are not pro-life.  (since this article was written Lisa MacLeod and Vic Fedeli had withdrawn)

Christine Elliott, widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, supports abortion and gay rights.

Christine Elliott, widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, supports abortion and gay rights.

Elliott says she is “personally opposed” to abortion but that it is a “woman’s decision with her doctor and her faith.” According to her 2007 CLC questionnaire, Elliott opposes the rights of parents to withdraw their children from school classes which offend their moral principles or beliefs concerning abortion, contraception and homosexuality. She also would not answer whether she would support efforts to defund abortion. She indicated women seeking abortions should be informed of the health risks associated with the procedure and seemed to support conscience rights for health care workers. In 2006, she rose in provincial Parliament to congratulate the organizers of that year’s Toronto Pride Parade. Elliott co-sponsored Bill 33, the Bathroom Bill, giving special rights to transsexual and transgendered people which became law in 2013.

Lisa MacLeod has refused to sign the CLC questionnaire or talk to the pro-life group. In 2008, she spoke out against the “thought police” at human rights commissions, but hasn’t followed that up with any action. In 2013 she voted against Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, a so-called equity bill that critics say pushed the gay agenda upon schools including forcing all schools to accept gay-straight alliance clubs. She later endorsed GSA-like clubs as long as they were student-centered.

Fedeli has no voting record or quotes on record indicating his position on social issues, but he launched his campaign calling for the Tories to become a big tent. He is also reported to have told a meeting of Tories in Mississauga that he supports transgender rights and that the party would have to do so too if it wanted to win seats in Toronto. He is supported by Jamie Ellerton, a gay-rights PC Party activist, and numerous socially liberal leaders within the Ontario PC Campus Association and Ontario PC Youth Association.

CLC’s Jim Hughes told The Interim last year that Fedeli’s comments are troubling, and that while in theory he has no problem with the idea of a big tent, “too often we’ve seen people who talk about a big tent clamp down on the democratic rights of socially conservative voters.”

On the other hand, Hughes praised McNaughton’s proposals for party renewal, which include his “Member’s First Plan” to reform how the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party operates. It would make nominations a “riding-driven process” and have the party membership approve the election platform.

In January, Hughes told The Interim that he encourages all pro-lifers, even if they do not typically support the Ontario Tories, to purchase a membership – which costs $10 with an email address, $15 without one – because pro-lifers need to take the opportunity to help supportable leaders when the chances arise. “If we are serious about protecting the unborn, we have to put aside partisanship and lift up those people who will do something to speak up for the unborn.” He added, “we have an opportunity to install a party leader and potential premier who won’t be hostile to life and family values. We need to take that.”

Hughes said he is encouraging everyone to fill out forms online or that are sent to them through The Interim or a recent CLC mailing to become a member. The preferential ballot, Hughes explained, means pro-lifers can cast votes for both supportable candidates. “Ideally, they’ll finish first and second,” Hughes said with a smile, “but if they don’t, whichever candidate survives deserves the support of Ontario pro-lifers.”

CLC has only ever endorsed one provincial party, the Family Coalition Party. It does, however, support all pro-life candidates regardless of party, and works to help them get elected regardless of party affiliation.