Pro-lifers are very valuable people to other pro-lifers. A rather obvious statement. When you are taking up a cause where your opponents are not only morally wrong but nasty rich and influential you appreciate your allies.
But pro-lifers are so caught up in their convictions of the rightness of their cause it sometimes doesn’t occur to them that they could fall heir to the prejudices, cliques and ethnocentricism of ordinary folk.
For example, Westerners resent Easterners: that is, people who come from Ontario and Quebec, especially people who come from Toronto. Their resentment is quite understandable- that is to westerners.
Torontonians would find the notion incomprehensible but merely proof of their superiority.
If you would like to understand this, read David Brimelow’s The Patriot Game. No, it doesn’t have one pro-life theme but go ahead and read it anyway.
The idea that certain attitudes of “eastern” pro-lifers do not help the cause has, of course, never been addressed. Most Westerners prefer to keep busy doing what they’re doing for the movement rather than be accused of pettiness by some head office in Toronto.
Ontario right now has “sexual orientation” legislation, illegal abortion clinics guarded by provincial police and pay equity. Saskatchewan or Alberta has none of those things. Logically, it would seem that Ontario could look-or should have looked- to these provinces to see why they don’t have such moral and economic atrocities.
It’s not as if people haven’t tried to push these things here. In 1979, Saskatchewan NDP tried to put “sexual orientation” in the provincial human rights code. They had a large majority and are a powerful political machine with assured finances from compulsory union dues. The legislation has stopped.
In Saskatchewan, there have been many attempts to get therapeutic abortion committees out of hospitals. There have been successes. In Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Weyburn the committees have been disbanded through the efforts of local groups. In Regina, abortions are described as “virtually non-existent by one gynecologist. In Saskatoon, in City Hospital, stopped doing second –trimester abortions.
Every year, the Saskatchewan Tories (who presently hold government) pass a few pro-life resolutions at their annual convention- by about an 80 percent majority.
A businessman looks over the field before he sets up show. For some reason, people like Morgentaler believe they can set up shop easier in Toronto than in Saskatoon. When pro-lifers are on the offensive and are getting rid of abortions which are allowed (but not compulsory) under the Federal law, it is harder for opponents to expand the market to illegal abortions.
Saskatchewan probably has the best-organized, grass-roots pro-life organization in the country. And it is getting better. There is work underway to have a province- wide voter identification. Just as political parties have telephone campaigns to identify their supporters, the pro-lifers intend to launch a campaign to identify who will vote a pro-life ticket in every provincial constituency.
This, then can be most effective at a party nomination meeting. For example 300 pro-lifers may not swing an election but they can stack a nomination meeting so the pro-life candidate wins the party nomination. The candidate hopefully, will then have 300 workers to get the general vote come election time.
One Toronto pro-lifer said recently he hadn’t found anyone worthy of his vote in seven elections and therefore he was going to support the Christian Heritage Party. This Party, I’m sure, is composed of fine people. But I’d find it easier to nominate an acceptable person than create and establish a new party, which may, moral issues aside, help to get a few more NDP types elected by splitting the vote.
Because pro-lifers are fighting a terrible negative force they often become immersed in the negative. No, I’m not going to tell you just believe rosy thoughts and everything will be fine. But it seems that pro-lifers could look to successes in organization and strategy rather than concentrating on a failure.
For some reason the West is always getting Torontonian speakers for functions but the East with rare exception, never get a Western speaker. After all what would he know? Things are so much worse in Toronto? It would seem he might know how to keep them from getting even worse or get them better since has some experience in that.
For example, anyone in Saskatchewan could have told you why the car salesman with the tartan tie needed a majority government in the last Ontario election. We could have told you what you get with an NDP government, even if it’s called a liberal coalition government. We could have told any non-socialist Liberal that when you make an agreement with the NDP, the NDP runs things. They are always the tail that wags the dog. We could have told you before it happened. We’ve had “hands on” experience of them since 1944.
Since Ontario and Quebec hold he majority of seats in Ottawa-and most federal elections are decided before the polls are closed here- it would be nice if someone would listen to what it is going to be like if Ed Broadbent controls a minority coalition of majority government. NDP-Union rule is not good for workers, the economy or unborn babies.
When the Toronto media, who think they should have the final vote on everything, misconstrued my legislation concerning informed consent on abortion. I phoned a Toronto contact who is in the media, but not with the major press, and asked her if she would phone CBC in Toronto and straighten out the story. The person replied it would be useless because they wouldn’t want to hear from her. I was thunderstruck.
In hindsight, perhaps she believed the Toronto story over my Saskatchewan story. Or perhaps people really think like that in Toronto the Strange.
I could phone five housewives here in 10 minutes who would gladly tell the CBC where they’re wrong and remind them who pays their salaries to boot.
Saskatchewan people think it is possible to win a fight… especially if Toronto doesn’t help muck it up.
There is a line that is used by Western lobby groups: “What is a national movement? Four people in a Toronto basement. What is a regional organization? 5000 people lobbying politicians whose central office is Edmonton.”
I could go on and explain there is just a tad bit of religious denominational chauvinism in the pro-life movement-and describe the hilarious actual incident where a Toronto speaker gave one page of a speech in French in Alberta. In Alberta! And she then distributed her speech written like that in Saskatchewan. And this girl is very smart politically otherwise.
We Westerners can find our Pro-Stars cereal (either side facing) as easily as they can in Montreal. It’s just that bilingualism symbolizes Trudeau and his crowd, with everything that means to the economic and social life of the west. So why bring that into a speech to a receptive audience? What may be an act of inclusion in Trois Rivieres is a sign of indifference in the West.
Now the natural response is “but cowboys, and farmers with Ukrainian names should understand the francophone fact, bilingualism etc. etc…” Protestants should immediately embrace the politically impractical issue of fighting for the outlawing of contraception. But people aren’t the way they should be according to someone else. They are the way they are. The task of the pro-lifer is to gain converts and effective activists. Sometimes what appears like a side issue may be hindering the main issue.
It takes courage to picket a Morgentaler clinic. It would seem being sensitive to people with different regional and cultural views would be an easy thing to do for the cause in comparison.
After all, we Westerners have had to choke down a lot and it isn’t always just our dust.
Gay Caswell is a former member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.