One of the surprises of the 1997 federal election campaign was the number of New Democratic Party candidates who claimed some measure of pro-life sympathy.

According to information compiled for Campaign Life Coalition Voters’ Guide, the majority of NDP candidates either skirted the pro-life question or retreated to the party position on “women’s issues.” By election day however, Campaign Life had received 32 pro-life responses to its survey from NDP candidates. It could reveal a small amount of right to life sentiment within the NDP.

The Campaign Life voters’ guide described the NDP as “openly and aggressively anti-life,” and said despite the presence of a few good pro-life people in its ranks, the party remains closed to the pro-life movement. Furthermore, party leader Alexa McDonough announced midway through the campaign, that the NDP would support some form of doctor-assisted suicide.

This made any link between the New Democrats and the right to life something of an anomaly.

Among the most notable “pro-life “ NDPers was Yvon Godin, who defeated former defence minister Doug Young in the New Brunswick riding of Acadie-Bathurst.

According to Campaign Life Coalition’s information, Godin considers himself pro-life, but accepts the current availability of abortion in Canada. More significant is his pledge to work for legislation which would limit or stop abortion altogether.


Another NDP candidate, Terry Gorman, went head to head with pro-life Liberal MP Albina Guarnieri in Mississauga East.

A former auto worker and labour activist, Gorman responded positively to Campaign Life Coalition’s questionnaire.

He claims to be pro-life and pledged to work within the NDP to change the party position on life issues.

While Godin was the only “pro-life” NDP candidate elected, a rudimentary pro-life sentiment could be significant for future policy conventions.

As the party which claims to stand up for the weak and marginalized, some have questioned the NDP’s abandonment of unborn children, easily the most vulnerable members of society.