As I pen these words, various friends and colleagues are preparing for the United Alternative convention in Ottawa. A lot will be said both before and after the event, and I really have no way of knowing if the whole exercise will be successful. But I have some thoughts on the UA and its dangers – oh, the dangers! – which are worth noting.

Sadly, it is usually the case that whenever those who are fiscally conservative meet in a room with those who are theologically or socially conservative, the “theo-cons” are usually asked to give up more than the “neo-cons.”

Let me explain. Moral issues such as abortion and euthanasia are often the first to be discarded. And that is the dilemma. Many of the fine folks working hard to unite the right believe that moral issues can and should be debated, and then voted on by a national or provincial referendum. Now, I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of such a vote, nor the issues I feel it would be acceptable to vote on. But I do know there is also an element who want the great moral issues of our day neither seen nor heard.

And I’m afraid they could win out. The danger will come when those of us who feel strongly about life issues are asked to park them outside the “big tent” of fiscal conservatism.

A lot of people who value life will accept this, sadly, as an acceptable compromise. Because, as many point out, the NDP are just “Liberals” in a hurry, and there is more potential for advancing our cause in a fiscally conservative world.

My beef is this. I’ve travelled over to Russia on a number of occasions in aid of children’s hospitals. I have numerous friends and family members who live in the former Soviet Union. If we can glean any lesson from the collapse of Communism it is this: Capitalism – that is, Western-style “fiscal conservatism” – has also been a failure. The Russian Mafia runs rampant – and the country. Life still has very little value in the land of the czars and commissars. We in the West thought the “neo-con” life was the way to “save” those poor people from the yoke of oppression, when, in reality, another yoke was being put in place.

You see, conservatism (in this case, fiscal conservatism) can be just as oppressing, just as dangerous, as Communism, because God has been taken out of the picture. Humanism believes that man is the centre of all things, Communism believes that man is the centre of all things, and fiscal conservatism believes that man is the centre of all things.

Those who are theologically conservative believe God is the centre, and that society’s laws must reflect that reality. Hence, all life has value. There are plenty of hospitals throughout the world named St. Paul’s and St. Joseph’s, but I have yet to see one named St. Lenin or St. Marx. The danger lies in thinking that fiscal conservatism will provide a platform for the salvation of mankind.

Not necessarily! If the unite-the-right gang succeeds in stifling pro-life voices, then it is an abysmal failure, and we have once again failed to learn our lesson.

On the other hand, if the neo-cons really want our support, and will extend an open hand to those who value all life as a precious and wondrous gift not to be thrown in the buckets of some quack abortion provider, then and only then can real dialogue take place.

In the battle for relevance and influence one must not forget principles. Not ever.