If we are to change the laws on abortion in Canada, and in Ontario, we must elect members to the legislature who are pro-life. It will not happen otherwise. Getting involved in elections and governments implies political action. By definition, this means politicians and politics. Anything that will be done depends on the politician. If we are particularly persuasive, the politician might do something. If he likes us, he might help. If he does not, good luck.
However, we can take action in a more direct way. It is much easier to make a pro-life person into a politician than it is to make a politician pro-life. How can we make a pro-life person into a politician? By participating in nomination meetings. Nomination meetings are meetings of members of the political party of a particular riding. At a nomination meeting, whoever gets the most votes among party members wins the nomination.
There is a provincial election soon to come. Already the nomination process is starting. If the pro-life movement wants a voice in the legislature, the time to take political action is now! Sign up as a member of a political party. Seek out a worthy pro-life man or woman who is willing to be nominated. Help that person become the official candidate for the party. Elect him or her. Take direct action. Now.
There is another point which I think must also be made. Those of you who know me will find no surprise in what I am going to say next. For those who disagree, I only ask that you consider the logic of what is said and if there is some error in my reasoning, I ask for a response.
It seems obvious that the majority of Canadian voters do not make life issues the key to how they vote. Otherwise, abortion would still be illegal. While many people might say they are pro-life, voting results over the last 30 years show clearly that most people do not vote pro-life.
With this fact in mind, I suggest that the only way the movement can have maximum impact on the political world is to participate strategically. There has been a lot of discussion about what this means. The two main options are: to participate in a purely pro-life political party (like the Family Coalition Party provincially, or the Christian Heritage Party federally); or to participate in a party that includes people who do not share our beliefs.
I believe that the pure pro-life political party strategy does not work. Please understand that I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who are involved in such parties. However, sincere intentions do not change the simple fact that they cannot change the laws on abortion under the current political climate in our country. Not enough people vote pro-life. The evidence of voting in the last number of elections in Canada and Ontario is enough proof of this.
The largest percentage of votes a pure, pro-life party candidate ever got was 13 per cent. Based on the evidence, it seems that pro-life people alone do not have enough votes to elect a pro-life member of a legislature – and certainly not a government. The pure pro-life parties simply cannot succeed without a significant revival of pro-life sentiment in Canada. And this is not happening.
I believe that the only way to quickly increase pro-life influence in legislatures is to participate in parties with more broad-based political appeal. If the movement as a whole can fully participate in nomination meetings to choose candidates who are pro-life in mainline political parties, then we can increase the number of pro-life voices in legislatures and governments. If there is enough of an increase, we can change the laws of this land. If you need some evidence of the chance of success of such a plan, I need only point to Tom Wappel’s first nomination as an example.
Now some of you experienced political types may point out that there are many other factors at play, but this does not alter the validity of the nomination-meeting strategy. It is the most direct approach that can produce immediate and measurable results. I believe it is the winning approach.
However, even this strategy depends on all pro-life people being willing to participate in the political process – for the sake of the unborn. Will you participate? Think about it.
(Richard Marchak is a lawyer, CLC representative for Kitchener-Waterloo, and a Liberals for Life activist.)