Last election it was free trade. This time it’s jobs and the deficit. The economy is front and centre again among the candidates, the media and most voters and this hampers efforts to get the pro-lifers elected to Parliament
To counter this, pro-life election organizers across the country are loudly proclaiming the urgent need to vote pro-life.
The political arm of the pro-life movement has found that issues concerning the family often take a back seat with many Canadians who might otherwise vote pro-life.
Campaign Life Coalition strategists say that the pro-life vote is essential to get people who respect life into Parliament. They say this respect for the life of each individual is the foundation on which society is built and voting pro-life supersedes any other issue.
The Interim publishes the position of each federal candidate on the two major life issues – abortion and euthanasia.
According to Sue Hierlihy, CLC national lobbyist, one of the problems is “there are very few pro-life choices out there.” But the ones that are there can still count on substantial support.
“Politicians recognize that there is a pro-life vote,” she says. “They can choose to ignore it, but we’ve forced the abortion issue in so many elections that they know at some point someone is going to ask them how they stand.”
She suggests if there is no pro-life candidate, voters should consider refusing their ballot rather than spoiling it.
Herm Wills of Campaign Life Coalition Nova Scotia, is trying to convince supporters the pro-life issue is an economic matter. The children aborted 20 years ago are the ones who would have been entering universities and buying cars today, he says.
“If people can’t look at it from a Christian ethic they can see it from an economic angle. We have to convince people when they are voting pro-life they are voting economics.”
He adds that family issues are important to most Canadian voters after concern for the economy.
“They (voters) see families disintegrating and they don’t know why.”
John Hof of Campaign Life Coalition B.C. says he gets frustrated at what he calls the “pragmatic vote.” This happens when a voter chooses someone who might win rather than a candidate who is solidly pro-life.
“The most important thing is to convince them to vote for the person, not the party,” he says. “You are answerable for your vote. Why waste your opportunity for a frivolous or pragmatic vote.”
Mary Ellen Douglas, president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario, agrees that compromising on the pro-life issue when voting should never be tolerated.
“If you vote for the lesser of two evils all you end up with is evil,” she says from her Kingston office. “The main thing is, if there are no pro-life candidates don’t ever vote for a pro-abortion candidate.”
One problem the pro-life movement faces is Canadians often “vote the way their great-grandfather voted. There’s a tendency to for the old way,” she says. To combat this “we’re trying to get out the word. We’re making as much noise as possible.”
Rather than vote for a pro-abortion candidate if there are no pro-lifers, she countenances spoiling or refusing the ballot.
Fr. Alphonse de Valk, a veteran political organizer with the pro-life movement, and editor of Catholic Insight, says being pro-abortion disqualifies a candidate from public office. He says the first thing a voter should do is determine whether there is a pro-life candidate. Christian Heritage Party candidates can be assumed to be pro-life. He adds it’s not so easy for the other parties.
“Experience teaches that pro-life claims by members of a party officially pro-abortion should be discounted unless their stand is on public record,” he says.
Without a pro-life candidate, “be a spoiler” de Valk counsels. Return the ballot or vote against the incumbent.
“If there is no incumbent, vote against the candidate who is likely to be important and therefore dangerous,” he says. “Hold your nose while voting.”
In Quebec, Gilles Grondin faces the question of nationalism as well as the economy. The head of Campagne Quebec Vie says he would be “very surprised” if many candidates, including Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard, declare themselves on the issue of abortion.
“They’ll do everything they can to avoid coming out on the issue,” he says. “Bouchard completely ignores the question.”
Grondin expects the BQ to score a major success in that province and says they will avoid going public on life issues so as not to antagonize potential supporters. “We have to keep trying,” he adds. The pro-life issue is an economic matter.