Last month we contrasted the marked difference on life issues between Reform candidates in Ontario and those from the West in last June’s federal election.
We’ll now look at some general election statistics and especially at how Members of Canada’s 36th Parliament measure up on life issues.
This analysis can be helpful for all members of the pro-life community during the mandate of this government. The stats can also help the pro-life movement determine the probable response of Parliament to pro-life initiatives and where lobbying should be directed to build up that support.
The first two of the following eight charts are based on general election statistics. The remaining six were developed from data gathered by CLC during the election.
There was little change in the popular vote in the last two elections, but this change was enough to alter distribution of seats held by the parties. The Liberals lost 22 seats, The PCs gained 18 and the NDP gained 12.
Our political system gives everything to the candidate who comes first. A discrepancy often results between seats won and the popular vote. The Liberals didn’t do as well as it seemed in Ontario. In 29 ridings, the total vote of PC and Reform candidates exceeded that of the winning Liberal.
The 1997 election was, in Jim Hughes’ words “the strangest election I have ever been involved in.” An unusually high percentage of candidates from all parties attempted to deny voters information about their views on abortion and euthanasia. They clearly did not want to deal with these politically incorrect and complex issues.
The Progressive Conservative Party, with no policy on life issues, was the only one to send the CLC questionnaire directly to its candidates for consideration. The NDP provided its candidates with a totally anti-life form response to the questionnaire. Many used it.
The Liberals were the worst. They openly instructed their candidates that answering questionnaires might contravene the Election Act (unchanged since 1980) and that they should therefore not complete any questionnaires. Many candidates used this as an excuse not to sign the questionnaire. The party machinery also drafted a pathetic generic response to the CLC questionnaire which many Liberals used to avoid making public their personal position.
CLC was disappointed when a number of Reformers refused to co-operate, in open opposition to or ignorance of their party’s guidelines on moral issues. They took the Election Act bait which seriously limited what they could tell voters.
Many of the candidates were appallingly ignorant of the facts on abortion and euthanasia. This has never been so noticeable and made discussion of the questionnaire items of vital importance.
Thanks to the persistence of CLC workers across the nation, information was gathered to provide a good thumbnail sketch of the newly elected MPs on life issues. The following table and charts should be considered carefully by all pro-life Canadians.
CLC believes that the evaluation engenders optimism that some victories can be achieved during this Parliament. The results will depend upon good people seizing the opportunities and taking responsibility to act alone and with others to restore respect for life to our nation.
(Steve Jalsevac is a director and political affairs coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition).