Sheila Copps is already facing an uphill battle in her effort to succeed Jean Chretien as leader of the federal Liberal party and prime minister of Canada. Now, it appears that a hall that the Hamilton East MP has used for election night festivities will likely be taken from her.

Copps has rented the east Hamilton hall of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, as headquarters for herself and supporters during federal election night. That appears to be in contravention of a resolution passed by the Knights of Columbus’s Supreme Council, the organization’s governing body, which forbids pro-abortion politicians from using its facilities.

“We reaffirm our longstanding policy of not inviting to any Knights of Columbus event persons, especially public officials or candidates for public office, who do not support the legal protection of unborn children, or who advocate the legalization of assisted suicide, euthanasia or infanticide (known as partial-birth abortion), and of prohibiting such persons from renting or otherwise using facilities over which we have control,” reads one paragraph of the resolution.

Copps is considered “pro-abortion” by Campaign Life Coalition. Among the developments that have proven her position in this regard is her urging in 1988 that the federal health minister withhold payments to provinces that do not cover abortions under their health care programs.

In 1989, she told Southam News that she wanted to see a law that gave women “freedom of choice” in the first trimester of pregnancy, with restrictions in the second trimester and a ban in the third. By November 2000, she attacked the Alliance party for wanting “to take away a woman’s right to choose.”

In announcing her current leadership bid, Copps has made gay “marriage” one of the cornerstones of her platform.

It’s a no-no for an individual with such views to make us of Knights of Columbus facilities, confirmed John McDevitt, an official with the organization’s Supreme Office in New Haven, Ct.

“Each year, there is a resolution passed at the Supreme Council meeting,” he told The Interim. “It’s basically a pro-life resolution, one portion of which specifically prohibits the making available of facilities of Knights of Columbus councils to pro-choice candidates.”

He added that local councils can’t get around the directive by forming building corporations that are separate from the council itself. “Those are nonetheless considered Knights of Columbus organizations and those corporations affiliated with the councils are prohibited from making their facilities available.”

McDevitt said contraventions of the resolution should be brought to the attention of “state councils” (which operate at the state or provincial level), which then will issue cease-and-desist orders to offending local councils.

Knights of Columbus member and Interim columnist Frank Kennedy has already made the Ontario state council aware of the Copps situation. In a letter to the council, he pointed out Copps’s use of the east Hamilton K of C hall and her current support for gay “marriage” during her leadership bid.

According to state secretary John P. Clancey, the state board reviewed the situation at a February meeting and decided to write to Copps and express its concerns about her reported position on homosexual “marriage.”

“The state board will also be reminding councils who have halls for rent that they should not rent for events that will sponsor positions in contradiction to the teachings of the (Catholic) church,” said Clancey. “The Knights of Columbus do look at the positions on moral issues of their legislative leaders and can and will take their action at the polls according to their members’ position.”

A man reached at the east Hamilton Knights of Columbus hall, who identified himself as the individual in charge of hall bookings, said he wasn’t aware of the Knights’ policy on rentals to pro-abortion politicians.

“We don’t ask people that when we rent out the hall,” he said, in reference to individuals’ positions on life issues. When asked if the hall would be rented to Copps again in the future, he said, “I would think so, yeah.”

Complicating the issue somewhat is the fact that Copps’s father, Victor, was a former grand knight (leader) of the council that runs the hall, as well as a popular, former mayor of Hamilton. Observers say the younger Copps used her father’s good standing and respect among Catholics to entrench herself in the federal political scene, then jettisoned many moral principles espoused by the Catholic church.

“She came from a good family that was traditionally Catholic and had good values,” said Hamilton East resident Betty Savelli. “She always used to use her father’s name – ‘My father this, my father that.’ Of course, he’s now been dead quite a while. She doesn’t use it anymore.”