Liberals for Life notched another victory on February 22, when a slate of candidates for the executive of the association in the Southern Ontario riding of Durham were elected.
This is the second year Liberals for Life have been successful in the riding, and the win provides a friendly executive for potential candidate Rosemary Connell.
Connell, a long-time pro-lifer, has obtained the necessary papers to run for the nomination as the Liberal candidate for Durham. She faces at least five other challengers in the riding, which takes in the area surrounding north Oshawa.
In her speech to the association, Connell said Canadian voters have had enough of the “wishy-washy, what is politically-right-to-say, kind of politician. They want politicians who have the courage to speak the truth, take a stand on what they believe is the best for the country regardless of what direction the political wind is blowing.”
The Liberals for Life win happen in spite of a last minute attempt by opponents of the slate to cancel the general meeting on a technicality.
Dr. John Wilson, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, leads the executive of the Liberal Association in Durham, while Else Schillings becomes vice-president. The 23 members of the executive were advertised as a Liberals for Life slate and called themselves “pro-life/ pro-family candidates.” They said they stood for a return to family values and a respect for life from conception to natural death.
The victory in the riding association comes on the heels of a Liberal internal policy memo which tries to distance the party from pro-life candidates.
The paper confirms what many in the pro-life movement have always said: that Jean Chrétien is pro-abortion and opposed to pro-life efforts to change the party’s policy on life issues.
The memo, which came from Chrétien’s policy making people, states Chrétien is “personally pro-choice” and adds that a liberal government won’t introduce legislation on abortion. It said he “respects” pro-life MPs and candidates but “opposes attempts by single-issue interest groups to hijack party nominations for their own narrow political purposes.”
The memo is a direct response to Liberals for Life activities such as the victory in Durham. In public, Chrétien says he will appoint candidates in order to have more women running for the party. However, rumours have been circulating that Chrétien intends to appoint candidates in riding where pro-life Liberals have been organizing.
“These are still rumours but so far nothing,” says Liberals for Life national spokesman Jim Barnes.
Liberals for Life continues to organize in other ridings around the country by signing up candidates, and getting out information. Dan McCash, national organizer for the pro-life group, says 35,000 brochures will be distributed in his riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore where he hopes to be a candidate.