On Nov. 5, the Conservative caucus elected Rona Ambrose interim leader of the party in a vote that saw eight candidates vie to lead the Tories on a temporary basis.
The proceedings, like all caucus business, occurred behind closed doors.
Ambrose defeated pro-life MPs Candace Bergen and Mike Lake, pro-abortion MPs Erin O’Toole and Michelle Rempel, and three MPs who have mixed records, Diane Finley, Rob Nicholson, and Denis Lebel.
Campaign Life Coalition gives Ambrose a yellow light, indicating a mixed record with pro-life leanings. As Minister for Status of Women in 2012 she voted in favour of Stephen Woodsworth’s Motion 312, which called for a committee to review the existing law on preborn children. Ambrose said she voted for it because she had problems with sex-selective abortion. She was criticized for her vote by feminists but maintained her position in the face of criticism. After becoming interim leader, the National Post editorialized that Ambrose’s independent vote on M-312 speaks to the qualifications the party should be looking for in an interim leader.
CLC notes, however, that Health Canada approved importation of the abortion drug while Ambrose was health minister. CLC has fought against RU-486 for 30 years.
CLC’s Jeff Gunnarson said his organization would have liked to see her intervene in the decision. Ambrose said “drug approval decisions are arms-length decisions” made by the bureaucracy.
Gunnarson told The Interim he is hopeful that Ambrose’s independence on the M-312 vote indicates she will respect the right of MPs to vote their conscience on moral issues.
Ambrose named her shadow cabinet two weeks after becoming leader of the Official Opposition. In critics positions of interest to pro-lifers is Kellie Leitch in health, Tony Clement in foreign affairs, Rob Nicholson in justice, Mark Warawa as seniors, David Anderson in human rights and religious freedom, Rachel Harder for youth and persons with disabilities, and Mike Lake in maternal, newborn and child health. Andrew Scheer was named as Opposition House Leader, and Jason Kenney as chair of the shadow cabinet committee on strategic operations. Warawa, Anderson, Harder, Lake, Scheer, and Kenney are all rated pro-life by CLC. Clement is pro-abortion and Leitch has been given a yellow light after she told constituents she is pro-life despite a pro-abortion voting record.
Gunnarson said the critics must stand up for pro-life and pro-family principles.
Current Conservative Party rules prohibit an interim leader from running for the permanent leader’s position, but it is possible that the membership could change the rules at a policy conference next October.