Paul Tuns:

Pro-life Canadians urged to get membership before June 3 cut-off

Leslyn Lewis could be joined by three other Campaign Life Coalition-supported candidates in the federal Conservative Party of Canada leadership campaign, which will crown a new party leader on Sept. 10.

Lewis was approved as an eligible candidate in early April, having garnered the requisite 500 signatures from party memberships, $200,000 entry fee, and $100,000 compliance deposit.

But as of press time, three others were scrambling to get the required signatures and donations to become eligible before the April 29 deadline after making the initial mid-April deadline to submit an application and $50,000 deposit: MP Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge), Saskatchewan businessman Joseph Bourgault, and lawyer and activist Grant Abraham.

Campaign Life Coalition was encouraging its supporters to provide signatures if they were party members and to donate to their leadership bids in order to get them on the ballot even if someone else like Lewis was their first choice. CLC director of political operations Jack Fonseca said, “Having multiple so-cons in the race actually increases the chances of any one of them winning. This is due to the preferential ballot system.”

The Conservative Party uses a ranked ballot for leadership races, in which a member’s down ballot support is reapportioned once each last-place candidate is eliminated from the count until one candidate has a majority of points. Each riding gets 100 points (unless it has fewer than 100 members) and candidates are apportioned points based on the percentage in each riding. This system ensures that candidates have broad support across the country and are not running up regional or ethnic numbers to secure a victory.

Lewis, who ran in 2020 and finished third, actually had the most votes on the second ballot but was third in points. She was a political neophyte at the time and supporters say now that she represents the southwestern Ontario riding of Haldimand—Norfolk, she could be better poised in this contest. She also has a track record now, including speaking up against Justin Trudeau’s plan to strip pro-life organizations of their charitable tax status.

Abraham, Bourgault, and Dalton have shared their pro-life, pro-family and pro-faith convictions in media interviews and campaign videos. CLC posted them in one section on its website for supporters to easily access.

Abraham has talked about the anti-family Bill C-4, and has called for Canada to return to its Judaeo-Christian foundations. He told Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson that he was disappointed that no one in the Conservative caucus opposed it under Erin O’Toole’s leadership last December. He also said that “we have to reflect on the framework that build this nation, that is the Judeo-Christian moral-civic order.” Abraham said one does not have to believe in God to benefit from the fruits of that framework. He said the increasingly “secular code” under which Canada finds itself is unlikely to allow the flourishing for individuals and society that the West’s historic framework allowed.

Bourgault, a long-time CLC supporter, released a video in which he said, “Let’s create a ‘Pro-life Culture’.” He begins by saying “I am pro-life” and one of the motivations for his proposal to tax reform is to make children more affordable with generous exemptions for children and income splitting for couples so that families can afford to have larger families. 

On his campaign website, under the banner of “social,” Bourgault talks about “Creating a Pro Life and Family Culture,” in which he promises to, “create support structures to help families experiencing unplanned pregnancy to ensure that they have the financial, spiritual and social support to be confident in raising a healthy and happy family” and, “We will also provide tax incentives for young parents to ensure that they have adequate resources to care for their children.”

Dalton also released a video saying that Canada needs to have discussions about abortion in the political realm and lamented the conflation of unity and uniformity as he railed against cancel culture, saying that the Left is trying to remove certain viewpoints from the “mosaic” of Canada.

In his time as MP since 2019, Dalton, a former teacher and pastor, has voted pro-life or pro-family nine times on ten issues CLC rated, the only mark against him was a vote for Bill C-6, a ban on so-called conversion therapy, at second reading; he voted against it on third reading. He has consistently voted against expanding euthanasia and voted for a ban on sex-selective abortions.

Fonseca said that having more socially conservative candidates is not only good politics for the leadership contenders, it is good for the pro-life and pro-family cause. Each could put forward different arguments and policies, raise the issues in debates, and demonstrate that importance of both pro-life/pro-family values and socially conservative voters within the party.

Also likely on the ballot will be MPs Pierre Poilievre (Carleton) and Scott Aitchison (Parry Sound—Muskoka), former MP Leona Alleslev, independent Ontario MP Roman Baber (York Centre), Brampton mayor and disgraced former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown, and former federal P.C. leader and Quebec Liberal premier Jean Charest.

CLC has called for the defeat of the Red Tory alliance of Brown and Charest, two unambiguously socially liberal politicians. It has also urged supporters to not cast a vote for Poilievre considering that in 2020 when flirting with a leadership bid at the time that he would not allow moral issues such abortion to be reopened by Conservative MPs. Aitchison was given a red-light by CLC based on his voting record and comments on social issues.

To be eligible to vote in the leadership, Canadian residents must be members of the party by June 3. Ballots will be mailed to members in late July or early August and must be returned to be counted before Sept. 10.