I have spent my few hours of leisure time over the last few days and nights digesting some political junk food in the form of John Laschinger and Geoffrey Stevens’ book Leaders and Lesser Mortals. Ir’s a must-read for political junkies and hopefuls alike, an anecdotal manual of political campaigning as practiced in Canada today. As I read, I endeavoured to glean information useful to the pro-life movement in the next election.
Long about midnight, as the water rapidly cooled in the Jacuzzi, I read something very interesting indeed. In 1991, seven percent of Canadians polled by Goldfarb consultants in a national survey did not identify themselves with any political party. By 1992, however, this number had reached an astonishing 24 percent. Respondents were not asked about membership in a political party, but simply what they “considered themselves to be” in terms of federal politics.
Choices included P.C. Liberal, NDP, Reform, Bloc Quebecois, and other. Nearly one quarter of respondents felt they were “none of the above.” Furthermore, the shift was almost exclusively away from the three major political parties.
Tory pollster Allan Gregg reports even higher numbers. Quoted by Laschinger and
Stevens, Gregg says, “[P]eople aren’t anchored the way they were …30 percent of the electorate will cast their votes today for a party they have never voted for…That’s huge, huge numbers—millions of people voting for entirely negative reasons in a brand new way they’ve never voted before.”
Why did this information rouse me from my tepid bath? Because in past elections the pro-life movement has been somewhat frustrated in its efforts by nominally pro-life voters who, in that fatal second when they mark their ballot, revert to voting the way they have always voted. But if pro-life voters mirror the polled cross-section of Canadian voters, between one-quarter and one-third of them no longer feel any party loyalty. Pried loose from party affiliation by widespread disenchantment with politicians and the parties they represent, pro-lifers will have fewer excuses not to vote pro-life.
Just as importantly, it appears that more and more often, disillusioned Canadians are using their vote “against” candidates and parties rather than “for” anyone or anything. Ontario voters showed this tendency in spades in the last provincial election. They voted so overwhelmingly “against” the Liberal majority government that they unwittingly elected an NDP majority rather than the Liberal minority they expected from their protest vote.
The proliferation of new political parties is another indication of the “against” factor. “Canadians are moving to new parties more out of anger against the old than out of affection for the new.” Declare Laschinger and Stevens.
The major political parties themselves capitalized on the negative in the last federal election with brutal television commercials aimed not at proving how good they were, but instead showing how bad the other guy was. The notion of voting “against” is one that the electorate is espousing in a big way.
This is good news for the pro-life movement whose election strategy has been to target pro-abortion candidates for defeat. With the perennial obstacle of party loyalty removed by the abysmal performance of the politicians themselves, and an electorate poised to exercise their vote against candidates and parties with whom they disagree, the upcoming election could result in more pro-life MPs than ever before.’ After all, what better to vote “against” than the destruction of human life.
But a pliable electorate is only half the equation that will produce a pro-life Parliament. All of the above will be moot if pro-lifers do not ensure that life issues are front and centre on the election platform.
In each riding, pro-life voters must be informed where all candidates stand. The candidates must be informed that these voters will vote against those who are not hospitable to human life in all its stages. If that includes spoiling or refusing ballots in ridings where all candidates are pro-abortion, so be it.
If the pollsters are right, vast numbers of Canadians are looking for a place to park their itinerant vote. These people are your friends, neighbours and relatives. Talk to them, educate them, encourage them. Give them a reason to vote firmly on the side of life. It
may be easier than you think.