Under Dalton McGuinty, the Ontario Liberal Party has moved firmly to the left on almost every social issue, to the point that it is now almost indistinguishable from the provincial NDP on life and family issues.

The most noticeable swing to the left took place in last fall’s announcement in Kingston that McGuinty would change provincial law so that same-sex couples would be extended the same rights as common-law heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children. He stopped short of supporting gay “marriage,” since marriage falls under federal jurisdiction.

Earlier in 1998, McGuinty spoke to the Fraternity, an organization of gay professionals in Toronto, and promised them full “rights.” He went as far as saying that separate school boards should not be allowed to fire gay teachers.

In 1994, McGuinty joined most of his Liberal colleagues in voting against the Rae government’s sweeping gay privileges bill. He has been quoted as saying that his thinking has “matured” a lot in the subsequent four-and-a-half years and that it is time for provincial law to catch up to “the times.”

McGuinty’s record on abortion is not any better than his record on family issues. Despite answering a 1995 Campaign Life Coalition questionnaire that life begins at conception, McGuinty has shown himself to be a supporter of abortion. On CBC Metro Morning Dec. 2, 1996, he declared, “I believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

In an October 1996 Interim interview, McGuinty reiterated his standing in favour of tax funding of abortion.

McGuinty was absent for the November 1996 vote on Bill 91, a private member’s bill to provide for parental consultation under the Health Care Consent Act. This was in spite of the fact that he affirmed in the CLC questionnaire that he would work to restore parents’ rights to direct and supervise the medical treatment of their children.

Within the Liberal Party, abortion is a closed subject, at least among the party’s pro-abortion leadership. All the MPPs who took part in the 1996 leadership race were essentially pro-abortion and most senior MPPs who are considered cabinet material are pro-abortion. For instance, Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt), considered by some to be McGuinty’s choice for finance minister, is pro-abortion and supports taxpayer funding of abortuaries, as well as OHIP’s funding of abortions. Gerald Kennedy (York South), considered a likely candidate for health minister, voted against parental consultation in 1996.

Steve Jalsevac, a Toronto director of Campaign Life Coalition, doesn’t want to dismiss the whole Liberal party. He says there are a few pro-life MPPs. However, “with the old boys network and the way they do business – ‘our way or no way’ – it is difficult to find hope for pro-life voters in Dalton McGuinty’s party.”

Duncan Fulton, press secretary for Dalton McGuinty, told The Interim last November that McGuinty would not sign the papers of any Liberal candidate who did not support the gay rights agenda. In another interview last month, Fulton changed his tune, saying that the Liberal leader does not actually sign candidates’ papers, but candidates are expected to support the leader on all issues.

“Pity the poor Liberal candidates who might be good men and women and who support traditional values,” Jalsevac said. “They are forced to accept McGuinty’s ultimatums on these issues.”

Ironically, McGuinty is a Roman Catholic and the son of a strong pro-life MPP, Dalton McGuinty Sr. In 1997, he told the Catholic Register, “My personal faith cannot help but influence my thinking.” On life and family issues, however, it is hard to see where that influence might be. Fulton told The Interim that McGuinty grew up a Roman Catholic and that that “cannot but help influence him, though it doesn’t control him.”

Jalsevac thinks Church leaders should speak out about McGuinty’s pro-abortion and pro-gay stand.