A survey of federal politicians by the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League has confirmed what pro-lifers established during the election campaign.
MP Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), former principal at a Catholic high school, is one of a large number of politicians who have had their true colours revealed.
The survey by the abortion lobby group reveals 61 federal MPs are “pro-choice,” 21 “waffle,’ 95 are “anti-choice” and 118 refused to answer the questionnaire.
Augustine is one of the many prominent Liberals who took the time to answer the survey and assure the pro-abortion group they are “pro-choice.” Augustine was joined in her support for abortion rights by Maria Minna (Beaches-Woodbine) and Art Eggleton (York Centre) who all declared themselves pro-abortion. All three were parachuted into their ridings under new party rules to keep pro-life Liberals from representing the party.
Augustine, parliamentary secretary to Jean Chrétien, recently lost a battle for control of her riding association and now has to work with a pro-life executive.
The Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore was one of Jean Chrétien’s appointed candidates and now as parliamentary secretary seems to be a rising star in the government. But prior to the last federal election she was an outsider, brought into the riding to keep Liberals for Life from getting their candidate elected. This, more than anything, explains the embarrassing defeat at the hands of her riding association.
A report in the Ottawa Citizen by Jane Tabor called the victory a “coup.”
“Losing control of her riding association to a group that has been a constant thorn in Chrétien’s side is an embarrassment to say the least,” she wrote. “Augustine, with all the resources and connections provided a sitting MP, should never have allowed herself to be out-organized.”
Dan McCash, a long-time organizer for Liberals for Life, and his candidates swept the election for the riding executive. This leaves a solidly pro-life executive, headed by McCash who was kept from running for nomination as candidate during the last election against Augustine because of her appointment.
Of the 16 members of the Etobicoke Lakeshore federal Liberal riding association executive, only two from the winning pro-life team were from out of the riding, and they had been members since 1991.
The losing Augustine slate, by contrast, consisted mainly of “instant Liberals,” many of whom were not from the riding. Twelve of the 16 candidates on Augustine’s slate were signed up just prior to the meeting.
“Dedicated people in any constituency can do the same,” says McCash, a long-time Liberal and pro-life organizer. “It can be very significant if enough people do it.”
It was a similar situation in the Durham riding where the Liberal association defeated the slate put forward by the MP Alex Shepard and in a raucous meeting, got the pro-life executive re-elected.
Shepard, who was elected last fall without the support of his riding association, describes abortion as “regrettable” but adds “we have to understand the right of the individual to choose.” Because of this stance, the executive withheld its support although it did offer to meet him. Shepard says he believes the victory for the pro-life slate has left two executives in the riding. “I will continue working with the executive I recognize,” he added.
Dr. John Wilson, who was re-elected president of the Durham riding association, said there is nothing which says a riding association should support a candidate.
Riding associations wield considerable power and control of them means that delegates can be sent to party conventions. One of the goals of Liberals for Life is to change the party constitution which gives power to the leader to make appointments of Liberal candidates by-passing the nomination process.