Stephane Dion, a cabinet minister in the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin governments, shocked the political world when he overcame Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, the two frontrunners for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, at the party’s convention in Montreal. With the support of former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy, Dion leapt ahead of Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario, and Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor, to become the leader of the official opposition. He is, according to a leading pro-life observer in Quebec, “surely not a social conservative.”

Luc Gagnon, president of Campagne Quebec Vie, admitted that information on Dion is sparse, but he knows that the new leader is definitely in favour of homosexual “marriage” and also supports the status quo of abortion on demand. Gagnon recalled that the founder and former president of CQV, the late Gilles Grondin, met with Dion in 2002, which time Dion “showed no sign of sympathy for the pro-life cause.”

There have been few pro-life bills and motions upon which to judge Dion’s record, because recent governments have not permitted the issue to come to the floor of the House. But in 2003, he voted for Bill C-13, the government’s experimental and reproductive technologies legislation, which allowed embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. He also voted against against Bill M-83, a private member’s bill that sought to have Parliament explore the medical necessity of abortion.

While Dion voted to affirm the traditional definition of marriage in 1999, in recent years, he has reversed course. He voted against a similar motion in 2003 and then voted to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2005. Also, in 2003, he voted for Bill C-250, Svend Robinson’s private member’s bill that enshrined special protections for homosexuals in hate crime laws.

During the leadership race, Dion refused interview requests about whether he would, like most of the other Liberal contenders, force his caucus to vote against the Harper government’s motion to revisit the same-sex “marriage” issue. In the days after he was elected leader, he was unclear during a media scrum about whether or not he would whip his caucus: “To me, it is a matter of the Charter of Rights; you don’t pick and choose rights.” The media reported that Dion had declared there would be no free vote for Liberals on the motion, but pro-family Liberal MPs say they were never told they had to violate their consciences. A dozen Liberals voted for the government motion.

CQV’s Gagnon expressed concern that Dion may not be quick to protect religious freedom. He noted Dion would “not be interested in defending our moral views in the public square” and added that the new leader was raised in a family that disdained the Catholic church’s influence in society. “His father, Leon Dion, was more a liberal of the 50s and 60s against the influence of the church in Quebec society,” he said.

Part of this article first appeared Dec. 4 on