In an era of politicians lacking principles – and ones who outright sellout to the culture of death – Julius Yankowsky is a refreshing departure. Indeed, he’s been lauded as a man who “will do anything” to further the pro-life cause, and his actions prove that those are more than just empty words.

Yankowsky, 63, is a married father of two and a three-term, Progressive Conservative member of the Alberta legislative assembly for Edmonton Beverly-Clareview. He serves as a member of standing committees on law, as well as regulations and private bills, and chair of the standing policy committee on economic development and finance. He is also a scheduled speaker at this year’s Campaign Life Coalition Ontario Provincial Pro-Life Conference on Oct. 13 at the Sheraton Hotel – Parkway North in Richmond Hill.

“I have always been pro-life,” Yankowsky said recently in a phone interview from his home. “I really do not espouse the culture of death that is out there right now. It’s natural for me to speak out against the things that are not pro-life.”

He is also a politician who sees entrance into political life as somewhat of a “sacred calling.” “We are called to uphold morals. As priests are called to the priesthood and others are called to different ministries, politicians are called to uphold the moral values of the land.”

Yankowsky has gained a prominent pro-life profile through actions such as his attempt in March 2000 to advance a private member’s bill protecting the conscience rights of health care workers. Bill 212 – an amendment to Alberta’s Human Rights, Citizenship and Multi-Culturalism Act – was introduced after he realized the workers have little recourse when faced with participating in procedures such as abortion, “genetic terminations” and acts of euthanasia.

Unions usually won’t support them, grievances through human rights commissions take a long time to process and employers take a dim view of complaining employees.

“We had a lot of support from pro-life organizations especially, and some from health professionals,” he said. “They gathered a lot of names on petitions that we presented in the legislature. We did get quite a bit of ink because a pharmacist in Calgary was suspended from her job because she wouldn’t fill a prescription for an abortifacient. She went public with it, so we got quite a bit of media attention.”

Nonetheless, the bill did not come up in the fall session, since other legislation ended up taking precedence. It ended up dying on the order paper. “For some reason, governments are reluctant to introduce this kind of legislation,” observed Yankowsky.

Although there have been a number of inquiries about the bill’s revival, there are no plans to reintroduce it in the coming legislative year. “We may bring it back some time. But this year, I did not get a good draw (in the lottery for private members’ bills), so we will not be putting it forth for next year.”

Yankowsky previously took a stand for life and moral leadership when he left the Liberal party – with which he was first affiliated – because he had problems with a new, incoming leader. “The new leader was very pro-choice, pro-homosexual rights and so on, which I had a problem with, so we had a problem in co-existing. I decided to switch parties, as some other members did, to a party that was more pro-life.”

More recent, Yankowsky – along with other pro-life MLAs – was central to a successful effort to have a clause included in the preamble of the Alberta Personal Directors Act that states the law cannot be used for the purposes of euthanasia. He and other legislators have also backed Bill 201, which mandates that parents must take a course before proceeding with a divorce, and a Marriage Preparation Act, which would require couples to be made aware of all aspects of marriage – including legalities, childrearing, emotional and financial pressures – before the ceremony is performed.

Yankowsky always stresses the need for citizens to get involved in the political process in order to effect positive change and support traditional and moral values. The public must speak, he said, if Canada is to get back on track.

“I have a very quiet constituency. Sometimes I run ads in the paper asking constituents to speak out on certain issues and tell me how they would like me to vote … We certainly need to hear from the public. That’s how politicians make their decisions – based on what they hear and public pressure. If we don’t hear from the public, the decision is left up to us.”

Yankowsky said he’s looking forward to going east to speak at the CLC Ontario Pro-Life Conference, where his main topic will be the effort to defund taxpayer-paid abortions in Alberta. “But I’ll be speaking a little more generally about everything that has been happening in Alberta, and what I and others have done in regards to pro-life legislation,” he added.

Yankowsky said the future of the pro-life cause looks bright in Alberta. “We have a pretty good contingent of pro-life MLAs in the legislature and government. We don’t have a majority, but we have quite a vocal group that can get things done.

“We added a number of pro-lifers in the last election, from Edmonton especially. We will continue to monitor legislation that’s being proposed and will certainly speak out while proposing our own legislation.”