On June 28th, Canadian voters went to the polls and delivered a message that was clearly ambiguous. The Liberals have a mandate and a minority, the NDP have leverage despite loss, and the Conservatives have an underwhelming admixture of improved standings that did not match expectations.
If there was any clear victory on election night, it was for the defenders of life. Pro-life Liberals such as Paul Szabo, Tom Wappel and Dan McTeague, can look forward to working with newly elected Conservatives such as Dean Allison, Jeff Watson and Rob Nicholson to make laws which protect life at all its stages.
These pro-life gains come on the heels of perhaps the most pro-abortion campaign in Canadian history. Cheryl Gallant was castigated for comments she made at the March for Life, in which she contrasted the beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq, which outraged a nation, to the ongoing holocaust of abortion, which remains willfully ignored. Liberal attack ads said Stephen Harper’s government would not “defend a woman’s right to choose”. And, when Paul Martin’s fortunes seemed grim, he attacked the Conservative policy on free votes on life issues in a desperate and depraved attempt to curry favour with voters.
This line of attack, however, was largely unsuccessful; in fact, the high water mark of Conservative support came just as Liberal strategists and media pundits made abortion the central issue of the campaign. Yet, the Conservatives missed a rare and precious opportunity to make the case for traditional morality in modern politics. Unfortunately, it seems Mr. Harper accepts the distinction some make between social and fiscal conservatism-a dichotomy which has hindered both the Conservative Party and the movement that sustains it.
A government in waiting must offer more to voters than better bookkeeping. And, if the Liberal Prime Minister is unwilling even to acknowledge that some members of his own party are pro-life, it is incumbent on the Conservatives to represent disenfranchised Canadians of conscience.
The pro-life position, as an election issue, remains undefeated-and untested; it is either dismissed with distain or met with alarm. This election has proven that there is no social peace on abortion: Canadians deserve a discussion that has been delayed long enough.
In this federal campaign, abortion was an issue, used by politicians and the media to scare voters, pandering to their misplaced sympathies, appealing to their worst fears. We look now to the pro-life MPs going to Ottawa, to educate both their colleagues and constituents about this, the decisive moral issue of our age. Let us hope that, in the next federal campaign, they defend the sanctity of the human life to their fellow citizens, appealing to their best hopes as they work to build a Culture of Life.