“And all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”
It is over fifty years since I read Pilgrims Progress, but these were the first words I thought of when I heard that Joe Borowski was dead. I was sure that hosts of his Pro-Life friends “on the other side” were there to welcome him home. He was unique, a legend in his day, not only in Canada but world-wide.
Joe was a politician who had his priorities straight. He always reminded me of a conversation between my mother and a friend, a local politician (in my hometown in England) who in turn was councillor, alderman, and mayor. He remarked: “Katy, I am Labour first, Irish second, and Catholic third.” She replied: “Jimmy, you have it wrong. Religion and your duty to God come first, your Irishness second (my mother was Irish), and your political party loyalty to come between him and his duty to God. He was Minister if Highways in the Manitoba government when he was told that his NDP government paid for abortions committed in the USA. At first he did not believe it, but when he was convinced he tried to change the policy. When that attempt failed he was faced with a choice which would affect his whole future career. Either, he could compromise with his conscience and tacitly go along with paying to kill pre-born babies, or, he could resign his cabinet position in protest. For Joe Borowski there was really no choice – he resigned.
The first time I saw Joe was in 1979 at “The Tiniest Human Conference” sponsored by the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area. He had just been released from prison where he was held because he refused to pay taxes that would be used for abortion. To me, then and even more later he was the stuff of which martyrs are made; he held fast to his principles in the cause for truth and justice; he was stubborn (sometimes his friends would even say pig-headed) in his willingness to suffer personal hardship; and he had the courage that overcomes fear. At times he led where many of us feared to follow. When newspaper columnists could find no cause to attack his character, his religion was mocked and held up to ridicule. Still, he held firm in his cause to protect the life of each and every child who was conceived but not yet born.
He supported the efforts of every branch of the Pro-Life movement: education, which is essential and a pre-requisite for other work; service, which provides support and practical help before (and after) birth to both mother and child; activism for example that which leads brave souls to work outside abortuaries, saving babies one by one; prayer and fasting; and political action. He knew that every branch was essential, but he also recognized the reality, that abortions would continue and escalate in numbers until such time that the life of every pre-born child, without exception, is given full legal protection from the time of fertilization. Only by electing pro-life candidates, and prop-life leaders of political parties, can we hope to stop the slaughter of Canadian babies – living but not yet born. Abortions will continue until people value the life of a child above that of a political party.
Unfortunately for the babies at risk there are people who are very pro-life leaders of political parties, can we hope to stop the slaughter of Canadian babies – living but not yet born. Abortions will continue until people value the life of a child above that of a political party.
Unfortunately for the babies at risk there are people whoa re very pro-life but do not concern themselves with politics; and there are those, even in pro-life groups, who work to elect pro-abortion candidates and vote for them. I cannot forget one incident at a Toronto Rally where Borowski addressed thousands of pro-lifers from across Ontario. Because it was a time of crisis for the Pro-Life movement, Joe had decided to fast – not till death, but close. He had been existing on water with added vitamins, and without solid food, for over two months, and was weak and cold. I always remember that on that warm summer day he wore gloves and his overcoat. His voice was still strong as he spoke of the new legal threats to the unborn in the Charter as they could be interpreted by the Supreme Court. When he mentioned Trudeau and Chrétien, who adamantly refused to extend protection to pre-born children in The Charter, he was heckled, “Don’t talk politics”; and then booed by a section of the crowd. I could not believe it.
To this day I cannot understand how people who cared enough for the babies to make the trip to Toronto could boo a man like Joe, even admitting that they did not understand the politics.
Abortion is a political issue. Parliament legalized some abortions in 1969: Parliament refused protection to the unborn in the Charter; Prime Ministers chose pro-abortion judges for the Supreme Court of Canada; the Supreme Court used the Charter to strike down the section of the Criminal Code that forbade abortion; Mulroney stymied efforts to return full legal protection to the unborn child. We, the people elect our MP’s our political party leaders, and indirectly our Supreme Court Judges. Are we a Jimmy or a Joe in our in our priorities? Are we worthy of belonging to the same Pro-Life movement?
Joe Borowski could well echo the words of Paul in his second letter to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” As pro-lifers, could we all say the same? Will the trumpets sound for us?