Another example of befuddled thinking on the part of a local MPP occurred at the end of June after the election of nine new trustees to the 27-member board of the as-yet-non-existing Stouffville-Markham hospital. The nine democratically elected pro-life trustees were chosen by a majority of the 427 people present, a number of whom were members of two local Catholic parishes.
Following the election (which led to the defeat of the planning committee chairman and past chairman) PC MPP Don Cousens, together with Markham Mayor Carole Bell, board vice-chairman Joan Wood and hospital president Michael Butcher met privately with Catholic Bishop Leonard Wall.
According to their own account, during the visit they suggested that the Bishop “use his influence to seek the resignation of five of the new trustees.” (Stouffville Sun, July 3).
This wholly inappropriate request for some behind the scenes arm-twisting was followed by an equally inappropriate public demand for resignations, indicating Cousens’ failure to grasp the nature of the issue. Explained Cousens, “The hospital is the number one goal. It’s not the time for a single-issue group to make their views felt. I’m not passing judgment. The people elected are good people but lack the experience of the planning chairman, past chairman and doctors who were defeated.” Fortunately, several of the elected members indicated publicly that they were shocked by the demand for resignations and said they had no intention whatsoever of complying with what they called a “ludicrous proposal.”
In the letters to the editor debate which followed the publicity, minister David Franks of Grace Anglican Church felt called upon to contradict the reported views of Father Gignac of St. Patrick’s Parish that to be pro-abortion is incompatible with Christianity or any other religion. According to the Anglican minister, “whether these differences (on abortion) are legitimately recognized (in the universal church) depends on one’s understanding of authority in the Church,” he noted, (Stouffville Tribune, July 27) thus suggesting that the killing of the unborn is not a matter of truth and principle, but only one of authority.