On December 9, at the national strategy meeting of Campaign Life Coalition in Ste. Anne de Beaupré, Quebec, Dan McCash of Liberals for Life made a strong plea to the ninety delegates from across Canada for pro-life supporters to join the Liberal Party, no matter what their political allegiances. The next six months, he said, are crucial because the Liberal Convention in June will choose a new party leader. He recommended that members join their local Liberal riding association right away, definitely before February 15, so as to help send pro-life delegates to the convention
McCash pointed out that the one practical political opening for right-to-life supporters at this moment is to elect a Liberal leader sympathetic to their cause – and the next Liberal leader is likely to be next prime minister he thought.
Following McCash’s speech, the only declared candidate for the Liberal leadership made his own request for support in a very impressive way. This was Tom Wappel, MP for Scarborough West. Reviewing the positions of other candidates, none yet declared, he showed that the media favourites were definitely pro-abortion, while the others either supported it or were unwilling to oppose it publicly.
The delegates to the convention did not give their entire commitment to him or to anyone else, but they certainly listened to him with attention.
Tom Wappel has spelled out his own unequivocal pro-life views in a speech in the House of Commons on November 27, 1989. Copies of this were available, as was a video – which was shown at the Convention. Both in his own constituency and on trips across the country, he said, he has found that the vast majority of people he has talked to are against abortion on demand.
Some of his constituents, he admitted, take the opposite view. He quoted part of a letter he had received: “No man has the right to tell me to carry what amounts to little more than a parasite in my body. A foetus lives off the woman carrying it. This so-called human life can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, let alone discomfort, nausea and pain.” Said Wappel, “I cannot and will not subscribe to this view of the unborn being akin to a tapeworm. If this person’s own mother thought as she does, perhaps she would not be alive today to write to me.”
He considers Bill C-43 an unsavory union of hypocrisy and cowardice. The definition of “health” in the bill is so wide open that it really allows abortion on demand. “The Supreme Court of Canada,” he continued, “has told all Canadians that the foetus has no rights whatsoever under present Canadian law. You only get rights once you are born alive. But it also said that if Canadians wish the foetus to have rights, then these rights must be explicitly, not implicitly, spelled out in legislation by the House of Commons.”
The essential requirement therefore, he argues, is a definition of the unborn child as a human being; once such a definition is accepted, protection of the foetus will become a legal requirement.
In his discussion of hypocrisy, Wappel selected two specific examples. First, in 1980, Minister of Health Perrin Beatty, who now supports Bill C-43, proposed a private member’s bill which would have allowed abortion only when the pregnancy would actually endanger the life of the woman.
Secondly, he quoted Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the debate on capital punishment. He enunciated the following principle:
“It is wrong to take life. I can think of no circumstances except self-defense to justify it – and I will resist with all my strength, all of my life, any action that would diminish that reality and would lessen its value.” “Those are noble words,” Wappel commented, “applicable in his mind to convicted murderers but, apparently, not to unborn human beings… This man is so weak of will on this issue that not only does he not have the courage of his convictions, but he insists that his ministers abandon theirs.”
The rookie MP was accompanied by his wife, Glenda. They have three children. He takes French lessons daily. Of Hungarian descent, he speaks that language with moderate fluency as well.
In conclusion, he once more called for pro-lifers to register themselves with their federal Liberal constituency to elect pro-life delegates to the June leadership convention in Calgary.