Pro-lifers who’ve been at it for any length of time have experienced many frustrations. One of the most peculiar is the tendency of so many otherwise pro-life Canadians to vote Liberal, even when the Liberal candidate in their riding is pro-abortion.

Experienced pro-life leaders say that Catholics are especially loyal to the party, even though the party hasn’t been very loyal to them. But it isn’t just Catholics who tend to vote Liberal regardless of the local candidate’s position on life and family issues. Some evangelical Christians also support the party no matter what.

Recent statements by the Prime Minister ought to serve as a wake up call to these voters. In a speech to the Liberal parliamentary caucus in Winnipeg Aug. 30, he reiterated what he said at the party’s national convention in Ottawa Mar. 17: “We Liberals believe in a woman’s right to choose.” And in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 28, he repeated his criticism of Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day for allowing his faith to influence his politics.

Mr. Chretien’s bold and unprecedented identification of the Liberal Party with the pro-abortion movement should be taken as a slap in the face by serious Catholics. Historically Catholics have always been a crucial and unswervingly faithful constituency of the Liberals. The experience of the last three decades ought to have shown Canadian Catholics that they were being taken for granted; the Liberal leader’s recent comments have confirmed that fact beyond any shadow of a doubt. He is absolutely unafraid to proclaim his party’s absolute support for abortion on demand.

The Prime Minister’s crude and arrogant view of Mr. Day’s religious faith should be taken as a profound insult by evangelical Christians. In the Aug. 28 interview, he implied again that Mr. Day and those who share his beliefs are not fit to hold elected office. Mr. Chretien said, in effect, that unless Christians are prepared to lead a double life – believers in “private life” and agnostics in “public life” – they are disqualified from exercising positions of leadership in a democracy. There are few devout evangelical Christians who would not take issue with such schizoid thinking.

But Catholics and evangelicals should be concerned about the Prime Minister’s recent remarks, apart from the fact that they are the targets of his condescension and insults. Both groups should be concerned about what those remarks reveal about Jean Chretien and his party.

First, the man himself. Mr. Chretien has implied repeatedly over the years that he is “personally” opposed to abortion; yet his every action in “public” has been in support of it. If he is not lying when he says he is “personally” opposed to abortion, we must assume that he believes abortion is the killing of an unborn human being; yet he is on record as believing strongly that such killing should be protected by law. Do we really want a hypocrite of such magnitude in the highest office in the land?

In the Ottawa Citizen interview, this same man referred to himself as a “good Catholic.” He is obviously completely unconcerned about the critical remarks of Ottawa’s Archbishop Marcel Gervais regarding his Mar. 17 declaration of the Liberals’ pro-abortion position. Moreover, he is obviously ignorant of or dissents from the definitive teaching of his own church, as expressed by Pope John Paul II in the encyclical Evangelium vitae.

Second, the Liberal Party. The Liberals pride themselves on being the party of “balance” which reflects the “widely shared values” of Canadians, as the Prime Minister said in Winnipeg. Why then have they adamantly supported the extremist, lawless, abortion-on-demand status quo in Canada, when the vast majority favour some limits, even if only modest ones, on the killing of preborn children? (A 1999 Gallup poll indicates that fully 70 per cent are in favour of some restrictions.)

Mr. Chretien said in Winnipeg that, contrary to the Canadian Alliance, the Liberals want to “protect little children from being blown up by land mines” – a laudable goal, but one that might be more believable if those same Liberals didn’t also want to protect the “right” of women to have their babies burned or poisoned to death or torn limb from limb in the name of “choice.”

He said the Liberals are “the party of families and children” – yes, the same Liberals who granted special privileges to homosexuals by enshrining “sexual orientation” in the Canadian Human Rights Act; the same Liberals who gave homosexual couples virtually all the legal rights of married couples through Bill C-23; the same Liberals who have refused to take decisive action to protect children from exploitation in the pornography industry, slavishly deferring to the judgment of our activist courts.

Mr. Chretien also said the Liberals are the party of “inclusion,” while the Alliance is “divisive” – presumably because, although the Alliance has not taken a position on abortion, it is open to the views of pro-life Canadians. Yet it is hard to think of anything more divisive than insisting that one class of human beings – those already born – may decide that another class of human beings – those not yet born – have absolutely no rights and may be treated with the ultimate contempt. (Indeed, under Mr. Chretien, the eggs of spotted owls have more legal protection than unborn children.)

Our question to Catholics and evangelical Christians and all Canadians who believe that fundamental human rights are inalienable, is this: have we finally had enough of Mr. Chretien and his fellow pro-abortion Liberals? Very soon we’ll have an opportunity to answer this question emphatically at the ballot box. Let’s think long and hard about our answer this time