Don Pennell has been named interim leader of Ontario’s Family Coalition Party for at least another year.

Delegates at the FCP’s recent annual meeting in Hamilton approved the move after St. Catharines, Ont. Resident Tristan Emmanuel, who was slated to take over the party’s full-time leadership, withdrew his candidacy.

Pennell had resigned as full-time leader earlier this year. Emmanuel had run federally for the Christian Heritage Party in the Hamilton East by-election which returned Sheila Copps to office in the spring.

Delegates at the meeting also rejected several proposals to rename the party with such monikers as The Christian Heritage Party – Ontario and the Republican Party. They also named Hamilton resident Lynn Scime as president.

In his acceptance speech, Pennell outlined an agenda of “hard work, new ridings and let’s get cracking” while reiterating the FCP’s unwavering commitment to the pro-life cause.

“We will never, ever go against our principles by abandoning the unborn child as part of our daily vision. Not while I’m interim leader,” he pledged.

At the same time, Pennell criticized the pro-life movement which he said continues to support political parties with a pro-abortion agenda.

In an interview afterwards, Pennell vowed he would go after pro-life groups “with a vengeance” for failing to support his party and its pro-life platform.

Pennell told delegates the FCP still has the potential to exert “enormous influence” in Ontario politics despite slipping in the last election from the 111,000-vote total it garnered in 1990.

Pennell revealed for the first time a meeting he and several FCP leaders had in the late 1980s with a leading Ontario Progressive conservative party official who was intent on disbanding the FCP because was cutting too deeply into the PC voter base.

“The gist of the meeting was: what would it take for the FCP to disappear,” he said. “They thought we were a threat.”

Pennell gave the PC official a list of 10 conditions which would have to be accepted before the FCP would cease to exist. He claimed the PCs stole a large chunk of the FCP’s platform to develop the Common Sense Revolution which swept them into power with a large majority in 1995.