Being the Family Party Coalition candidate for Etobicoke West was not as unpleasant as I thought it might be and it involved a greater variety of activity than I expected. Although I had never intended to run for public office, I had to become a voice for the unborn to oppose the existing political situation.
When the election was called, we lacked an organized structure, workers and money, so the candidate had to fill many different campaign slots. If there was a volunteer available to accompany me, we canvassed door-to-door. It was felt that a candidate should not canvass alone incase someone should object physically to the pro-life stance and accuse the candidate of some wrongdoing. However, the reception I was given was very courteous with only one exception.
We were trying to finish the last few houses on the block when we left a pamphlet with a man who said he was pro-choice. We turned the corner and then heard a woman screaming something about choice to an empty street in the dark. I was grateful the man had answered the door.
We found on delivery of the first pamphlet that very few had heard of the party but in the three-week span between the first and second pamphlets, many more people had become aware of us.
If there was no one available to canvass, I made telephone calls to solicit votes, helpers, money, prayers, etc. I was calling pro-life supporters yet received answers varying from “What can I do?” and “Where do I send the cheque?” to “Sorry, I always vote Liberal,” “I’ll see how you do and vote for you next time,” “I’m not interested” or even “I’m pro-choice.” I also heard from some who agreed with everything in my literature except for one thing – the abortion stand. Only one anonymous caller told me where to go with my beliefs.
The effect on me was curious. After feeling unnerved at first, I realized that at least the message was being heard and stiffened my spine and my resolve. Yet, despite a shrug and a laugh, I hesitated before I picked up the receiver the next time.
Every supportive call or encounter was a boost to my efforts and I was encouraged by the dedication of volunteers who walked for hours on many days delivering 37,000 leaflets. One volunteer, who normally experienced back pain on a 10-minute walk to the store, said the Lord must have been helping her as she delivered literature for three or four hours without pain. Another faithful supporter came from outside the riding and walked almost every day finishing one assigned area only to start a new one. She would treat herself to an ice cream every day and was looking forward to election day when she’d have a double.
I called on the priests in my riding and met with differing reactions. One thanked me for introducing myself. Another said he would work as much as possible to inform people about the Party and the issues. Another priest said that although he was completely pro-life, he could not promote the FCP because it was not a single-issue party. He felt he could not comment on other matters in our brochure because homosexuals are born that way and pornography may help troubled marriages. As well, he thought that Catholics “should not try to force their moral view of contraception and divorce on others.”
My most difficult task was to prepare for the public appearances, especially all-candidates’ meetings. It is hard to tell all about a new party and a new candidate and to educate the public in five (or sometimes three) minutes. Something always suffered. Even a 14 minute film or community Cable TV did not seem long enough.
I enjoyed our two press conferences and my appearance with Andy Barrie on CFRB. He was gentle and thought “fringe” parties should be covered as part of the democratic process. Voters in my riding told me that they had heard a woman on CFRB talking about the FCP. One lady wanted to know my birth date, marriage date, children’s birth dates, etc. because she needed an Ariel connection with me (astrologically) to predict my win. I wasn’t able to give her one!
My husband was home during the campaign period. He relieved me of most household worries so I could deliver signs, pick up volunteers, stamp pamphlets, write speeches, attend meetings, and talk to voters. I know he and my children shared my relief when Election Day finally arrived.