Many in the pro-life, pro-family community are disappointed, but not surprised with the results of the Oct. 21 federal election. While there were well over 140 pro-life candidates, most were Christian Heritage Party and People’s Party of Canada candidates with little chance of winning. But even if every pro-life candidate won, there would not be a pro-life majority in Parliament, where 170 seats are required for a majority. We are pleased that there were (at least) 46 pro-life Conservatives elected and are hopeful that some number of MPs who are not identified as pro-life will support whatever pro-life and pro-family bills and motions are brought forward in the 43rd Parliament. It might be a moot point, however, if Andrew Scheer remains leader of the Conservative Party of Canada as the Tories maneuver through the next Parliament awaiting the next federal election campaign, expected by many pundits to be roughly two years away. Scheer, of course, not only said he would not reopen the abortion issue if he formed the government but vowed to “ensure” members of caucus would not bring forward any pro-life private members’ bills or motions, although he graciously conceded that Conservative MPs were allowed to hold pro-life views. We acknowledge that Conservative MP and close Scheer confidant, Garnett Genuis, told the Toronto Archdiocesan debate for Catholic voters that pro-life Tory MPs would be allowed to advocate for pro-life issues. However, he was not clear how that was compatible with the leader’s vow to prevent backbenchers from raising the issue. Genuine leadership does not sow such confusion.
Scheer went beyond former leader Stephen Harper’s position. Harper said his government would not reopen “divisive” social issues, but would allow his caucus free votes and while there was backroom pressure to not raise the issue, MPs like Stephen Woodworth, Mark Warawa, and Leon Benoit did bring forth pro-life bills and motions. We do not know how Scheer would “ensure” pro-life members of his caucus would abide his cowardly insistence on avoiding life issues, but we do not care to find out. MPs should be allowed to act on their conscience on matters of morals. We take Scheer at his word that he wants to prevent that, so he must go.
To be clear, we do not think any of the Liberal, NDP, Bloc, and Green leaders deserve their perches atop their respective parties either. Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh, Yves-François Blanchet, and Elizabeth May are all pro-abortion extremists who also want to shut down debate about abortion within their respective parties and in the broader political sphere. As we have noted many times, Justin Trudeau is the most pro-abortion prime minister in Canadian history, and has surrendered the moral authority to lead. We presume all our readers already understand that. However, Andrew Scheer is a different case because of his own pro-life record and he projects the appearance of being less extreme than his fellow leaders in shutting down debate. There is also the fact that the Conservative Party was the last of the major parties that felt welcoming to many pro-life and pro-family voters. It’s this last factor that moves us to lead in the call for Scheer’s resignation.
By party rules, a Conservative leader who does not form government must face an immediate review of his (or her) leadership. We are concerned that Scheer and his operatives could use the excuse of a minority government and volatile Parliament to avoid such a review. This would be a mistake. At a time when it looked possible that the Conservatives could win the most seats following Trudeau’s numerous scandals and controversies especially over the past year, there should be no shortage of internal disappointment with Scheer’s leadership and his lackluster campaign. He utterly failed to provide a compelling vision for Canada in order to convince a critical mass of voters to support the Tories. The fact that they lost to the Liberals by more than 50 seats despite winning the popular vote speaks to weakness not strength.
The Conservatives must expand their base, which includes exciting voters about issues the Conservatives may not seem to care about today. That means differentiating themselves from the center-left parties on issues like abortion, euthanasia, the family, LGBTQ+ rights, and decriminalization of drugs. The pointy headed pundits will talk about the need to expand the Conservative base to make it more palatable to urban voters, media-speak for abandoning conservative principles in a hopeless attempt to win downtown Toronto and Montreal voters.
There is an alternative way to expand the base. Use the bully pulpit of political leadership to persuade citizens to expand their vistas, or tap into unrepresented and underrepresented constituencies. Donald Trump did this and while some of us may have troubles with some of his actions, there is no question that he won over constituencies that neither the Republicans nor Democrats were adequately representing. We believe that the Canadian equivalent to creating a new winning coalition is to speak to those voters who are concerned about the moral trajectory of our country. A new Conservative leader could tap into that potential voter block. We do not believe Andrew Scheer is that leader.
Scheer walked into Justin Trudeau’s trap. When attacked for being too socially conservative (on abortion and gay marriage), Scheer took the bait, abandoned his long-held principles, turned his back on his perfect voting record, and tried to shut down any debate about these so-called “divisive” issues. They are divisive because they are important. They are divisive because there are large groups of voters on both sides of these debates. But no major party (God bless the CHP, but they are utterly ignored by the mainstream media) will take the side of one group of voters in these divisive debates. A Conservative Party unafraid of addressing difficult issues might find there are many more voters to be gained than lost. The Scheer way of dilly-dallying around the issues did not work. The recent election proved that. Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party was not the answer. Their two per cent of the vote proved that. The answer is in new Conservative leadership. Let the race begin, but first Andrew Scheer must put his country ahead of his own ambition and step aside.