Dennis Savoie

Dennis Savoie

On August 1, the Conservative government announced that Dennis Savoie, a former deputy Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus (2006-2013), was appointed as Canada’s new ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican). The appointment immediately faced criticism from the New Democratic Party, with MP and Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs Paul Dewar (Ottawa South) condemning Savoie’s past comments on abortion. In 2009, Savoie addressed the Knights of Columbus in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and said that they needed to confront a “Quebec culture that seems increasingly bent on killing the vulnerable” by abortion. He went on to compare abortion to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States: “Why, were we so stunned and bewildered by the 3,000 deaths on 9-11 when we’re so silent about the 3,000-plus deaths that occur each day in North America from abortion?” Dewar says, “comparing reproductive rights to 9/11 terror attacks is not the kind of judgment we expect in a Canadian diplomat. Appointments like this will further undermine Canada’s reputation on the international stage.”

Actually, calling Savoie unqualified for the job of representing Canada at the Holy See says more about the NDP than it does Canada’s one-time top Knight. Savoie is supremely qualified for the job. He held the second highest office in the Knights in New Haven for seven years, making him an excellent representative of Canada to the Vatican. Before climbing the ranks of the fraternal organization Savoie was vice president of New Brunswick Electric Power Corp., executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Judicial Appointments for New Brunswick, and was a member of the board of directors for the Catholic Organization for Life and Family co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus. His resume is impressive, even if the NDP finds his views on abortion odious.

According to Dewar, “we want to appoint diplomats who are skilled, capable and ready to represent our country. We have now a candidate who has crossed that line. He is someone who has taken his personal opinions and used inappropriate comparisons.” Would Dewar welcome a debate on whether the comparison is apt? How, precisely, is killing by abortion different than killing by terrorism? Killing innocents by tearing them from their mothers’ wombs sounds like a terror attack to us.

For its part, the government does not seem very bothered by the criticism, with a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird defending Savoie as “highly accomplished” and capable of representing Ottawa’s interests. We sincerely wish that Ottawa’s interests would include vigorously defending the rights of the unborn at home and abroad, but that does not seem to be on the government’s agenda at this time. But it is good to see that a person who shares our desire to see legal protection for the unborn is not automatically disqualified from representing our country abroad, especially to the Vatican, the epicenter of a Church with a clear teaching against prenatal killing. It is clear, however, that the NDP, if they ever form government, would take a very different view and not tolerate pro-lifers as representatives of our country.

Former Liberal and independent MP Pat O’Brien – who has consulted for pro-life groups including Campaign Life Coalition, and the Knights – called Savoie an “outstanding choice.” More importantly, he said: “The Catholic Church is pro-life. Jesus Christ is pro-life. It should be one of the criteria for appointing someone to that position.” Well said.

We pray for Dennis Savoie as he begins his work in his new post and hope that he maintains his ability to speak forthrightly about all issues, most especially abortion.