So far, Canada’s new Conservative government has done precious little to promote the sanctity of human life, but pro-lifers should not give up on the Conservative party. There is good reason to hope for major pro-life gains from the Harper Conservatives after the next federal election.
Consider what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already accomplished. Thanks mainly to his leadership, the formerly hapless Conservatives are now in power, while the once seemingly invincible Liberals are in disarray.
Since the election, Harper’s overriding aim has been to win the confidence of the Canadian people for his government. To this end, he has promoted an equitable settlement of the softwood lumber dispute with the United States and authorized Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to present a moderate budget that honours the Conservatives’ commitments to cut the GST from seven to six per cent and to introduce a Universal Child Care Benefit that will provide all families with $100 per month for every child under age six.
This strategy of moderation is working. According to a series of recent opinion polls, the Harper Conservatives now enjoy a commanding lead in nationwide support.
At the beginning of May, the Montreal daily La Presse published a CROP poll indicating that the Conservatives have even taken over the lead in Quebec. Other reputable polls in that same province have put the Conservatives behind the Bloc Quebecois, but well ahead of the Liberals.
Altogether, these polls spell disaster for the Liberals. If they lose what remains of their base in Quebec, the Conservatives will likely win a majority in the next federal election, even if the Liberals and New Democrats retain their stranglehold on urban seats in Ontario.
During the last election campaign, Harper undertook to broaden the support of the Conservative party, by promising that his government would not support any legislation on abortion. He said: “I will use whatever influence I have to keep that off of the agenda and I don’t see any likelihood of that in the next Parliament.”
Harper might well have foreseen that pro-lifers would pick up some additional seats in the last election, but not enough to constitute a majority. Regardless, there is indeed no likelihood that any back legislation to curb abortion will pass in the current Parliament.
However, with the pro-abortion Liberals in a state of collapse, pro-lifers could win a solid majority of seats in the next Parliament. Harper, then, could no longer block bills to curb abortion even if he wanted to. Willy-nilly, he would have to uphold the official policy of the Conservative party, which states: “On issues of moral conscience, such as abortion, the definition of marriage and euthanasia, the party acknowledges the diversity of deeply held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.”
Until the last election, Harper consistently supported this policy. In the 1990s, he helped Preston Manning unite the Reform party around a similar commitment to free MPs from the obligation to follow party discipline on controversial issues of morality like abortion and euthanasia.
The next federal election could come as early as next spring. In anticipation of this contest, pro-lifers should start now to make an all-out effort to get more pro-life and pro-family candidates nominated and elected. With majority support in Parliament, pro-life MPs from across the political spectrum could finally make some dramatic breakthroughs in reaffirming the sanctity of human life in Canadian law and policy.
It’s not inconceivable that Harper, himself, could take the lead in promoting pro-life and pro-family legislation. Unlike his immoral Liberal predecessors, who disgraced themselves by championing both abortion on demand and same-sex “marriage,” Harper has upheld the traditional legal definition of marriage and refused to pander to the feminist proponents of uninhibited abortion.
Moreover, Harper is an astute political strategist. As prime minister, he has surrounded himself with several key pro-life colleagues. There is reason to hope, and better reason to pray, that in conjunction with them, he is simply biding his time until his government can proceed with the support of a majority of Canadians to enact legislation to reaffirm the natural family and curb the abortion licence.