On February 7, Liberal MP John Turner stepped aside as Leader of the Opposition. When he arrived in the Commons for question period he was greeted with applause from all parties. “John, you served Canada well,” said Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
The Interim is probably the only paper in Canada to disagree with the PM. John Turner served Canada in a variety of offices, but none was more important than his role as Minister of Justice in 1969 when he piloted the legalization of abortion through the Commons. Before he did so he had a choice: go along with the Trudeau proposal, or leave it alone. He chose politics before truth, made the project his own and has proudly defended it ever since.
Toronto MP Dennis Mills, whose rather imperfect photo graced our February 1990 front page as one of the candidates for leader of the federal Liberal party, has shelved his plans to run.
His supporters gave as reason a general disappointment with the way the focus of the race has turned to tactics instead of substance, with candidates refusing to become specific about such things as tax reform.
On February 12, leadership candidate Clifford Lincoln lost his bid to become the MP for the Quebec riding of Chambly. His run for the Liberal leadership has, to all intents and purposes, bit the dust. This reduces to five the number of leadership candidates, three of whom are pro-abortion, two pro-life.
Liberals for Life
Pro-life Liberals continue to organize, reported the Toronto Star (Feb. 8). But the group won’t yet endorse either of the only would-be leaders who are committed to oppose abortion. Both are Toronto MPs: Scarborough West’s Tom Wappel and John Nunziata from York south-Weston.
“We’re not supporting a particular candidate at the moment. We’re supporting a vision,” Liberals for Life national chairman, Dan McCash told The Interim.
“Both (candidates) would like us to endorse them but we won’t do that yet,” he added.
Under the title “Pro-Life group plunges into Liberal race,” the Star noted that Liberals for Life has installed “team captains” in ridings across the country. In Metro Toronto, it reported, at least three ridings had witnessed an influx of pro-life memberships.
A week later Roy MacGregor of the Ottawa Citizen (Feb. 14) under the headline, “Anti-abortion army stirs up Liberal race,” reported that the Chretien workers had been taken off guard in Peterborough, Ontario, Liverals for Life had walked in, and “tabled new memberships adding up to more than half the total.”
Peterborough, the Liberals are now saying, was won by Tom Wappel, stated MacGregor.
“He’s got that silent little army,” he quoted a Martin organizer as saying. “They’re almost an underground movement in that mainstream Liberals don’t know who they are.”
Meanwhile, in Sault Ste. Marie, a membership chairman committed to Shiela Copps, played the Liberals for life a dirty trick. When they showed up two days before the deadline with 270 memberships, she faithfully promised to enter them on the computer. When the deadline arrived, their names were not there. When they protested the Chretien partisans insisted on the letter of the law and the Liberals for Life names were thrown out.
In Ontario two candidates have declared themselves in the running for the PC leadership convention to be held on May 12.
Dianne Cunningham, MPP for London-North and elected in a 1988 by-election, considers “abortion to be a matter between a woman and her doctor.” As far as pro-Life PC’ers are concerned, this disqualifies her without further ado.
The other candidate is Michael Harris, MPP for Nipissing. He is a small businessman, who had a brief experience as Minister of Natural Resources before the defeat of his party in the April 1985 election. Mr. Harris has criticized the Liberal government for its pro-abortion policies but it is not clear what steps he himself would take as Premier.
In December,1986 he voted against the protection of the homosexual lifestyle bill. He favors Sunday shopping but would want to hold a referendum first.