Feeling abandoned by Ontario’s four largest political parties, many voters concerned about life and family issues often believe they have no political voice. This is not the case. The Family Coalition Party (FCP) has arisen as a party that stands for three fundamental rights: “the right to life, the right to freedom and the right to own property.” Come the Oct. 10 provincial election, many Ontario voters will have the option of supporting FCP candidates and adding their pro-life and pro-family voices to the political debate. These candidates have diverse backgrounds, but they all share a passion for protecting traditional values and the sanctity of human life. The Interim talked to six of these candidates:
Suzanne Fortin is a 33-year-old wife and the mother of three young children. She is a poet, historian, popular Canadian blogger and the regional director for the FCP’s Ottawa region. She will also be running as the FCP candidate in the provincial riding of Ottawa-Vanier.
This is not Fortin’s first foray into politics. During the 1993 federal election, the Quebec City native ran for the NDP in the suburb of Beauport-Montmorency-Orleans. “The NDP knew I was pro-life when they offered me the nomination,” Fortin states. “And the media knew as well. The issue was a winner – I did better than most of the NDP’s other candidates in Quebec and I had non-NDP voters tell me they would make an exception and vote for me because I was 100 per cent pro-life.”
Yet, despite her strong performance in the election, Fortin would suffer the fate of Joseph Borowski and other pro-life NDP members who had gone before her. The party would drum her out. She spent the next few years deepening her Catholic faith and becoming more active within the Francophone pro-life community.
In recent years, Fortin has used the internet to champion various pro-life and pro-family causes. Her blog, BigBlueWave.com, is one of the most widely read among young pro-life activists in North America. She was instrumental in rallying pro-life forces during the CBC’s facebook “Great Canadian Wish List” poll. This endeavour saw ending abortion place first among Canadian’s greatest wishes.
Getting married and becoming a mother of three has reenforced Fortin’s pro-life convictions. “When you feel the baby kicking inside you, you know she’s a child.”
Fortin believes the FCP is the best alternative for pro-life and pro-family voters. “There are enough of us in Canada to effect pro-life legislation,” she states. “We just need to work hard, organize and support a pro-life party. If every pro-life voter flexed his or her muscle at the ballot box, if we all rallied behind the FCP, we would see effective change in Ontario’s political culture.”
Dave Joslin, age 53, is a strong believer in marriage and the family. He and his wife Kathy have been married 31 years. They have four adult children and one grandchild. The welder/pipe-fitter is an active Christian who attends Bethel Free Reformed Church in Mitchell, Ont. He has previously run for the Christian Heritage Party at the federal level.
He says: “I am running in this election, first, because I believe in the FCP’s principles and platform. Second, I believe that these principles are needed in our society. And third, because there are people in our riding who hold to these principles and cannot find acceptance of those principles in the other parties.”
Joslin adds, “I believe our Christian faith should influence all areas of our life, including politics, morality, economics. What we need is a genuine small-c conservative government. We don’t have that anywhere else but in the Family Coalition Party.”
As the FCP candidate for Huron-Bruce, Joslin has narrowed his campaign focus to eight key points: electoral reform; an end to judicial activism, using legislative over-ride if necessary; an end to regional government; parental choice in education through use of a voucher system; removal of minimum wage earners and retirees from the tax rolls; an end to funding of abortion; the introduction of healthcare worker conscience legislation; and support for the traditional family.
Bill Bernhardt is a husband, a father and a businessman. He enjoys visiting the elderly at nursing homes, supporting the fine arts community and playing the organ at church.
“I’ve been with the FCP for 20 years, but more as a backroom member,” Bernhardt states. “I decided to run this time, because the FCP needed candidates and I had concerns about the other parties. So, this was my opportunity to jump in and try and do something about it. More than that, it’s about getting our message out.”
Bernhardt’s main message is that we need to stop the erosion of the traditional family within our society. “One way to stop it is to bring attention to it and get people talking about it. “People tend to shy away from politics unless it is something that hits them hard.”
Bernhardt feels that the upcoming provincial election, with the referendum on proportional representation, will set the stage to electing more FCP seats in the future. But, while he sees this as a great opportunity to restore the pro-life voice to Ontario’s political dialogue, it is, in fact, the party’s pro-life stance that piqued his interest in the FCP back in 1985. He had been recruited to the party by friends within the pro-life movement and he has never looked back. “The FCP is sort of a contagious thing,” Bernhardt states. “If you feel it’s the right party, you’re going to get active, get involved.” Bernhardt got involved with the FCP because the party provides centrist policies and a strong pro-life, pro-family voice. He adds: “We need to return the family to the centre of attention.
There’s a trend toward broken homes and broken families and we need to stop that trend. We need measures to strengthen the two-parent family, meaning husband and wife, mother and father.”
Ray Scott, age 37, is a husband and father of three young children. The former Toronto District School Board employee now lives on Manitoulan Island, where he tends to the family farm. As a union activist, he believes strongly in education and children’s issues: “I believe the family is the most basic building block of society.”
Scott first became interested in the FCP because of the party’s pro-life directives. “I looked at the pro-abortion candidates fielded by the other parties and realized just to have someone I could vote for in good conscience, I had to run myself.”
He credits the FCP’s founders for providing a foundation upon which he and other young pro-life and pro-family activists can build. “The time has come for younger pro-lifers like myself to take responsibility for the future of the movement, the party, and put our names on the ballot.”
He notes that the FCP puts forward a broad platform with policies touching upon all issues important to Ontarians. “I’m especially excited about the healthcare plank in the party’s platform,” Scott says. “The medical savings accounts are one of the better-kept secrets of the party. My feeling is that our current system needs a management system that the medical savings account would offer.”
He feels the FCP can appeal to Northern Ontario because, like many other rural areas of the province, voters have more traditional values. Scott sees the need for strong government representation that will defend and protect the welfare of Ontario’s faith communities. “There have been threats to the institutional church in this province and we have to make sure that Christian voices count and not just secular voices.”
Bill Murphy and his wife Colleen are the parents of four daughters. A CLC local leader, Murphy has been active with the pro-life movement for more than 20 years. His pro-life resume speaks for itself: he has served as Life Chain’s local organizer for the past 15 years, is an executive member of Sault Pro-Life and, during the debate over same-sex “marriage,” organized Citizens for Traditional Marriage.
Murphy is also active within the Knights of Columbus. He is currently serving a second term as Grand Knight of Superior Council 932 – the mother council for Northern Ontario. He runs the council’s Roses for Life campaign each Mother’s Day and has represented Superior Council at State Conventions.
Despite all he does for the pro-life movement, Murphy and his daughters still find time to lector at St. Gerard Majella Church, coach track and field with the Sault Athletics Track Club, act in a production of Beauty and the Beast put on by a local theatre company and gather around the living room to play music as a family.
“I’m running in this election because I believe families and those who advocate for families need a voice in Ontario’s political discourse,” Murphy explains. “The FCP is the only party this election with a life and family platform.”
Murphy also supports reforming the income tax system to allow for income splitting between married couples. “This will strengthen the family, society’s basic building block, and provide a more equal tax system. Families should have more options when it comes to raising their families, not less.”
Murphy also supports strengthening provincial hospices and palliative care for those approaching the end of their lives. From conception until natural death, Murphy is a strong proponent of life and family.
Morra has run for the FCP several times since the founding of the party. “For me, it’s not just the party itself,” she explains. “Being a Christian, I’m for certain things.” Two of these things are life and family. “A life is a beautiful thing; I cannot imagine taking it away,” she says.
The Italian Catholic grandmother wants to see the sacredness of life recognized in Ontario’s laws. This is something deeply personal as well as political. “My husband and I have been married for 45 years,” she explains. “We couldn’t have children, so we adopted a daughter. She is now in her 30s with a child of her own. I am grateful her natural mother chose adoption. Had she chosen abortion, we never would have had this beautiful daughter and grandson.”
As a volunteer at a seniors’ home, Morra is also concerned about issues that directly affect seniors. She notes that healthcare is a major issue among the people she volunteers with. Child poverty and helping the immigrant community are two other issues close to her heart. As an immigrant herself, and an active volunteer within Toronto’s Italian community, Morra is proud of the fact the FCP draws many pro-life and pro-family immigrants who want to make Canada a better place.
“The FCP is truly the most multicultural party that embraces all kinds of people,” Morra states. “The culture of life is universal.”