“Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants” …William Penn
Something strange happened to me on the way to the Conservative Leadership convention. Actually the thought of attending this event never occurred to me until a few months ago. It has been almost five years since I ran as a Tory candidate in Vancouver East. In political a lot can happen in five years. After witnessing the abortion debate, Meech Lake, the Charlottetown Accord and a number of other issues, my criticism of this government grew. It wasn’t so much a matter of leaving the party, but rather a matter of finding a new direction.
Then a few months ago, the telephone call came. As the candidate of record for Vancouver East, I was an automatic delegate to the upcoming convention and was expected to attend. Again a whole series of events invaded my agenda and the expectations grew.
In 1988, with the slogan “dare to be different,” and a lot of help from friends, we ran a pro-life, pro-family campaign, much to the chagrin of the “politically correct.” It was quite an experience, especially when the campaign office was fire bombed.
Now after five years of speaking out, I was finally on my way to Ottawa, one of the favoured few to select Canada’s next Prime Minister. But this time there was hope. One of the leadership candidates was a committed pro-lifer, or so he told The Interim. There was a place, after all, for my views.
Did I dare to leave the safety of Lotusland, and venture into the big, bad political arena, once again? Duty called, and I found myself, like many others, backing Jim Edwards. “Advantage Edwards” they called him and it seemed to fit.
However, once inside the big arena things took on a new perspective. It was difficult to ignore Charest. Constantly reaching out, warm, approachable, and obviously a family man, he was worth considering.
But Campbell had the big “blue machine” working overtime to track delegates and make sure they didn’t waver. The organization was incredible.
The candidates’ speeches made little difference, except of course for Garth Turner, who tripled his delegate support by the best performance of the evening. Then again, Jean Charest convinced many he would be a force to be reckoned with in the next election. He was looking like a winner!
But Edwards had already captured the support of many pro-lifers who felt a loyalty to his ideals.
When it came time for the first vote, logic whispered Charest, but my conscience screamed Edwards. I supported him on the first ballot.
The results concluded there would be a second ballot. Edwards would make the difference. All morning it had been widely reported that should he drop off the ballot, Edwards would throw his support behind Charest.
We watched and waited. Then the unexpected happened. Edwards concluded that Campbell would emerge the winner. Suddenly all his principles went out of the window as he saw a chance for greater glory. Much to the disgust of many of his supporters he walked over to the Campbell Camp and put on a KIM hat. Two-thirds of his supporters refused to follow, as tears flowed.
Edwards stated to the press that he made the move to unify the party. But Charest was very close to becoming Prime Minister and the divisions are now so broad, the chasm may be too deep to repair.
Any committed pro-lifer could never back Kim Campbell, knowing her record. Were we duped?
Back in Lotusland, after much reflection, I feel as discarded as the litter left on the convention floor. Why was I so blind? The signs were there, clues which I failed to gather. It was all so masterful. Why did the party, after excluding me for so many years, suddenly request that I introduce Jim Edwards at a luncheon in Vancouver East shortly before the convention? Why did Gus Mitges, a strong pro-life MP support Charest? Why did pro-lifers back Edwards, where their vote could be easily tracked?
All this is academic now. Because we have given our country the present of a new Prime Minister, who represents neither traditional women nor family values. Happy Birthday Canada!