In a major victory for pro-life Liberals a full slate of candidates won Etobicoke Center, gaining a foothold in the federal riding association.

For Liberals For Life organizers it was a clinic on how to influence an association at the grass roots level.

Strategists are saying that the key to the Liberals For Life win was the careful planning combined with the strong turnout the night of the meeting.

Planning for the November 17 general meeting went back almost two years and included rounding up a slate of candidates and signing up members from the riding to the party.

“This is a big deal,” said the Liberals for Life volunteer Tom Lamb. “He (pro-life candidate Jim Conrad) is one of us. He orchestrated this entire takeover and did it the right way.

With control of the riding association the chances of getting a pro-life candidate nominated in the riding appear better than ever.

Kevin McGourty, who won easily as executive vice-president, said the riding association executive will “actively seek the interest of the best candidate who represents the broader-based values of the people of Etobicoke.

Long-time Liberal Jim Conrad has filed his nomination papers with the party and will likely receive the endorsement of the new riding association executive.

Liberals For Life national coordinator Dan McCash said the victory could put to rest ideas that the party had of appointing a candidate in the riding.

“Now they (the Liberal Party) see the people have spoken,” he said “It may have stopped the appointment. We’re showing the party we have more power than they think.”

The riding id currently represented by Minister for International Trade Michael Wilson. Liberals are hoping Wilson will fall in the next election as he feels the wrath of his constituency over economic matters.

Several prominent pro-abortion Liberals were victims of the Liberals For Life victory. Among them were former MPP Linda LeBourdais, Joan Toogood, an active member of the Canadian Abortions Rights Action League (CARAL), and the Liberal candidate from the last election, Mary Schwass.

One member said Liberals are pitting Catholics against each other by running them on the slate opposed to the Liberals For Life.

Simone Flahiff, sister-in-law of the now-deceased Cardinal Flahiff, was put forward as a prominent Catholic in an attempt to diffuse the pro-life attack. Also on the pro-abortion slate was former Catholic School Board trustee Connie Micallef.

McCash said members of other riding associations who “say they’re pro-life but don’t do anything” will take notice form the Etobicoke Center victory.