It was an election which saw voters forget about every other issue but getting rid of the Tories.

In the aftermath of the Liberal sweep, pro-life leaders are counting the cost of the single-minded effort by Canadians to depose the Progressive Conservative Party and bring in the party which promised them jobs and an end to their economic woes.

The new Prime Minister, of course, is no friend of the pro-life movement.

“The overwhelming majority came as a tremendous shock to most Canadians,” says Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes. “We were sorry to see so many pro-life MPs going down to defeat.” But at the same time he says he is “optimistic “they will be replaced by equally committed pro-life Liberals and Reformers.

There would have been more pro-life Liberals in parliament had not Chrétien used his power to appoint star candidates and keep pro-lifers from office. As well as trying to keep pro-lifers from being active in the party, he has stated that he is “personally pro-choice.” One of his chief policy advisors is the stridently pro-abortion Chaviva Hosek. Nonetheless, Chrétien has promised to allow a free vote in the House of Commons should the issue come up for debate, even though he says the Liberal Party won’t introduce pro-life legislation.

Hughes adds that the resounding majority the Liberals received “gives too much power to one [party. People have short memories. They’ve already forgotten the Trudeau years, Jean Chrétien was a principal player in those years when the rights of the unborn were pushed aside.”

The election resulted in 67 known pro-life English-speaking candidates. As well, the NDP which is the staunchest abortion-on-demand party won only nine of its 43 seats. There is little information on whether Bloc Quebecois candidates would support pro-life legislation and there is some hope that many of the Reform Party members who didn’t respond to a Campaign Life Coalition questionnaire would vote pro-life.

“It’s all going to depend on pro-lifers’ ability to lobby members of parliament at the riding level and telling them how important it is to take the pro-life position on abortion and euthanasia,” Hughes says.

Sue Hierlihy, chief lobbyist for Campaign Life Coalition in Ottawa, says part of the story of this election was the lack of pro-life candidates.

“It wasn’t that pro-lifers didn’t vote pro-life,” she says. “It’s that many of us couldn’t vote pro-life.” She says the abortion issue is almost certain to be raised in Parliament. “There could very easily be a private-members’ bill on abortion or euthanasia,” she says. She says bills by pro-lifers such as Tom Wappel, John Nunziata and Don Boudria “will go into the pot” and a lottery system will determine which gets debated and voted on.

REAL Women of Canada, a pro-life women’s lobby group said in a statement that the Liberals have an excellent chance to do something good with their majority.

“The Liberal Party now has an excellent opportunity to mend and heal our nation,” the statement reads. “One of our country’s greatest needs is to protect and promote women and their families. The Canadian family has taken a terrific battering from all directions during the past generation.”