“I’m tired of voting for Catholics who aren’t” quipped one middle-aged gentleman, a recent convert to the Christian Heritage Party, who attended their special news conference in February, in Hamilton, Ontario.
“We’re all from somewhere else,” laughed a Christian Heritage Party aide. “We’re all ex-NDP, ex-Liberals, ex-Tories. We’re all fed up with that’s going on in Ottawa. You’re going to see a big swing in our party!”
It was a joyous, optimistic occasion and the beginning to a weekend of frantic activity for the new party. A speech by Ed Vanwoudenberg, interim leader, titled “Vision of the Future,” drew an astonishing large crowd of over 700 people to a Hamilton high school, where he was interrupted ten times by clapping. On Saturday morning, a Christian Heritage Youth Club was organized where upwards of 60 youths attended a policy-setting meeting and at night 150 people attended a very successful fund-raising dinner in Burlington.
At the Friday press conference, the mayor of Hamilton sat on the podium surrounded by an avalanche of TV cameras, reporters and media people. He gave a warm, brief welcome to Mr. Vanwoudenberg, said he was delighted that the Christian Heritage Party had chosen Hamilton for the site of their founding convention and sat down to loud applause from only one man.
“I had to clap,” the man explained. “He’s by boss!” “The Canadian people have been deceived,” charged Mr. Vanwoudenberg. “Two years ago the Canadian people were given a vision – they had been angered by the lack of moral leadership and good government – and they voted for Brian Mulroney. There was no vision. There was no difference. The Christian Heritage Party has a vision because it stands on Judeo-Christian principles which have always been the basis and foundation of a true democracy. We will offer a real alternative to the Canadian people.”
“We are worried about the loss of our freedoms,” said Mr. Vanwoudenberg, “by the unceasing attacks by extremists, using freedom for their own advantage. Look at Bill 7, and others like it. Bill 7 was recently passed in Ontario and it puts homosexuality on an equal basis and accepted norm with heterosexuality.”
The Christian Heritage Party (which, incidentally, has as its motto: ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’), Mr. Vanwoudenberg said, “will call Canadians and their government back to a life style in accordance with the Word of God, which is a benefit to the nation, and we will also stress individual responsibility to make a valuable contribution to society. We will be able to offer programmes of accountability and responsibility in moral, ethical and economic areas.”
“We believe,” he continued, “that this is a milestone in Canadian history, to have a political party that stands for integrity in government, strong family and pro0life convictions, and other positive values.”
When Mr. Vanwoudenberg was asked by a reporter, was not the party confining its support to a certain segment of the population by using the word “Christian” in the name of the party? He replied, “Jews, Moslems, Hindus and many others are also concerned about a lack of morality in public life. They will support the Christian Heritage Party because their goals and ideals are the same. They will support good, honest government.”
He was asked how the Party was going to obtain high caliber, ethical candidates who were going to make up the 50 candidates who were going to run in the next federal election. “We will have a screening committee to determine his/her suitability and the candidate will have to sign a statement that he/her agrees to the broad principles of our Party, which will be ratified at the National Founding Convention in Hamilton, in November 1987.
“What happens if a candidates lies?” asked another reporter, “aw, said Mr. Vanwoudenberg, but you’re forgetting the screening committee is going to check out his references.”
When he was asked if he favoured a day-of-rest in Canada, he answered, “Yes, Sunday should be a day-of-rest, a day set aside for family for worship and relaxation. I know we have to have some small stores open for convenience and emergencies, and also, police, firefighters, doctors, public transportation people, and some others may have to be on the job, but why should someone have to work on Sunday unnecessarily when the spouse and children are at home?”
When he was accused of inflicting Christian beliefs on people who do not believe in them, he countered, “We have to base our laws on some moral code. Canada was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and they have served us well. It’s only a small noisy, extremist group that seeks to undermine our heritage.”
Another reporter asked him why he didn’t think that abortion was justified if the woman was raped. Mr. Vanwoudenberg replied, “You’re talking about a situation that is so rare and so unlikely, that it’s hardly worth speculating about. There’s never an instance to commit murder by an abortion.”
When he was asked how he could reconcile his stand on abortion with his stand on capital punishment, which he favours, he replied, “Killing the innocent is not the same as executing the guilty. And that is only when the whole jury agrees to the death sentence, should it be considered for capital crimes. The spirit of the law should provide for clemency upon genuine remorse.”
Responding to a question as to the growth of the party, Mr. Vanwoudenberg said that the party already has a thousand paid members, and the number is growing every day. He urged all Canadians to join the Canadian Heritage Party in the quest to return Canada to her honourable “Christian Heritage.”