Ontario’s provincial Family Coalition Party has a new leader as it marks its 10th anniversary.

Giuseppe Gori, a self-employed computer consultant with experience in computer communications and software development, was named to the leadership during the party’s recent annual convention in Hamilton.

He takes over from Don Pennell, who has led the party since its inception in 1987.

Mr. Gori worked with the IBM corporation in Italy before moving to work with the company in Canada in 1978. He later started his own business.

His political involvement began shortly after the FCP was formed. He has served on the party’s policy committees, and has filled the posts of chair, executive vice-president and deputy leader.

Previous campaigns

He ran for office in Halton North in 1990, winning a respectable 9.2 per cent of the popular vote, before going up against Ontario cabinet minister Al Palladini in York South in 1995.

“I’ve been around the FCP long enough to know that I can do the (leader’s) job, so I’ve accepted the responsibility,” he said.

Mr. Gori added one of his priorities will be to change the popular image of the party from one of being a group of individuals concerned with family-related issues to that of a recognzied and respected political force.

To do that, the FCP must break through a “media barrier” of indifference as it prepares for a provincial election expected in about two years’ time, he said.

“We have to show (the media) that we are solid, with people who have a chance at being elected. We have a lot of work to do … But the (social) tide will change and we need to be ready for it. There is a machine here with a lot of potential. We have to make it work.”

Difficult year

Outgoing party president Lynn Scime said the past year has been a rocky one for the party, as it seeked to establish solid, local riding associations, recruit dedicated executive members and cultivate potential candidates for the next election.

There was even talk at some point of disbanding the party, but that was decided against at the convention.

“We’re looking at the reality that we’re going to have to struggle to keep alive … We have the challenge all
organizations have in finding people who will commit to the cause,” she said.

Mrs. Scime noted that “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” have gone into the party over the last decade and it would have been regrettable if the party had allowed its political charter to lapse.

On the positive side, Mrs. Scime said she is looking forward to coming years, particularly with Mr. Gori as leader. “He’s a very capable individual … He can speak circles around most people. His credentials are great, and he’s very versatile and gifted.”

Streetsville resident Jeffrey Young has taken over from Mrs. Scime as the party’s president.

The FCP  from its beginning has worked with a platform emphasizing family values, integrity and moral leadership in government affairs, religious freedom and policies based on Judeo-Christian principles of the welfare of the people and proper stewardship over creation.

At the Hamilton convention, the party also paid tribute to Don Pennell’s decade of leadership.

“We thank you, Don, for all the sacrifices we know about and all those that were given in private.

“It is no coincidence that you, like Mother Teresa, put your faith into action and we are very grateful.”

“The future is yours to write. History is yours to contemplate,” Mr. Pennell replied. “It is my wish that historians will record that the FCP stood firm and refused to compromise in the condemnation of abortion as a horrible crime, and that speaking out for moral values made a difference.”