Staunch pro-life MP Tom Wappel has been named this year’s winner of the Joseph P. Borowski Award, which honors pro-life and pro-family advocates in the political sphere.

Since he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1988 following a career in law, Wappel, 48, has been consistently in favor of protection for unborn children from the time of conception with no exceptions. He has described his position as being: “I am opposed to abortion. Why? Because it is the deliberate killing of a human being. I will do everything I can to protect the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death.”

“Tom Wappel’s positions on life and family issues are well-informed and consistent,” said Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes. “He has the guts to speak out, and is a man who gets things done without sacrificing principles.”

Wappel received his BA from the University of Toronto and a bachelor of laws degree from Queen’s University. He was called to the bar in 1976 and worked primarily in civil litigation and corporate law until entering federal politics.

He won the Liberal nomination 10 years ago, shocking the Liberal hierarchy by defeating John Turner’s preferred candidate in the Scarborough West riding, anti-poverty advocate Patrick Johnston, by a 523-372 vote. Wappel was re-elected to a third term last summer, easily surpassing his closest challenger by an almost three-to-one margin.

He was a strong critic of the Mulroney government’s flawed attempt to pass a new abortion law shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Trudeau government’s law in 1988.

“This … is really nothing more than abortion on demand under the guise of what some misguided individuals believe is an implicit recognition of the humanity of the fetus,” he said at the time in the House of Commons.

In 1990, he took a run at the Liberal party leadership on a platform consisting of five points: honesty and integrity; respect for life; a return to family values; respect for the environment; and unity of party and country. He placed a respectable fourth with 267 votes.

In 1994, Wappel introduced private member’s Bill C-204 – an act to amend the Criminal Code in order to add a definition of the term human being that would include the child in the womb. This followed a similar, earlier attempt (via Bill C-275) in 1989.

Euthanasia opponent

Wappel has also been a strong critic of proposed initiatives to legalize or loosen laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In 1993, he rose in the Commons to address the issue. “Active euthanasia … is a sanitized way of saying the deliberate execution of a human being … I say doctors should be looking for ways to control the pain, not to execute the patient.”

On other fronts, one of Wappel’s latest initiatives has been the introduction of private member’s bill C-340, which would amend the Marriage Act and the Interpretation Act to define marriage as being valid only between a single male and a single female.

“There is a pressing need for this legislation, as the courts have repeatedly pointed out that there is currently no statutory provision that defines marriage in a way that excludes multiple partners or persons of the same sex,” he said.

Wappel broke ranks with the Liberal party in recent years to vote against a hate-crimes bill and the addition of “sexual orientation” to the Canadian Human Rights Act. He indicated that he would never support legislation that recognized same-sex relationships.

Wappel has inevitably felt the heat for his stances against so-called gay rights. Toronto Star editorial board member Paula Todd accused him in 1996 of harboring a “vendetta” against gays and lesbians.

And gay MP Svend Robinson charged that Wappel was pandering “to the worst and most offensive stereotypes of gay people.” More recently, Wappel has drawn media attention for introducing Bill C-220, the so-called Son of Sam legislation that would allow the government to seize the proceeds and copyright of works by criminals or authors who collaborate with them.

Wappel will officially receive the Borowski Award at July’s National Pro-Life Conference in Ancaster, Ont.