On March 31, a political upset occurred in Ontario, Premier David Peterson’s own backyard.  The Liberals received a 3,000 vote thrashing in London North – a riding they had previously won by 13,000 votes.

The Family Coalition Party (FCP), represented by Brenda Rowe, gained 1,191 votes or 3.6 per cent of the total vote.  This more than doubled the 500-plus votes (1.5 per cent) gained by the FCP in the September 1987 Ontario provincial election.  The FCP was the only pro-life party in the race.

The final vote tally was 13, 831 for Diane Cunningham of the Progressive Conservatives PC). The Liberals placed second with 10,353 votes for Elaine Rensa.  Diane Whiteside of the New Democrats earned 6,759 votes.  FCP finished a distant fourth,, but well ahead of the Freedom Party and an independent.

Highlight of the campaign for the FCP was Rowe’s performance at the all-candidates forum on Thursday. March 24, at John Paul II High School.  Rowe went toe-to-toe that evening in a political slugfest and impressed the Catholic teachers and students alike, especially with her uncompromising pro-life stance.

One of the biggest disappointments in the campaign was the refusal of London North pro-life groups to help out in Rowe’s bid for the seat.  The executive of Western University pro-life, for example, voted against “political involvement.”  Another group claimed a telethon kept them up to their eyes, whereas the campaign stretched over several weeks, not merely over a weekend.

FCP leader, Don Pennell, a Burlington businessman and father of three children, remarked, “Although we did not do as well as hoped, we were able to offer an alternative; all three of the major candidates were pro-abortion.”  Pennell added, “It was an opportunity to promote the pro-life, pro-family philosophy to the voters so they could choose.”

Pennell concluded, “With the added knowledge gleaned from this by-election, we can and will do better next time.  We came away from this by-election with twice the votes gained in September 1987 and a good, solid, workable riding association has been formed.

The Charismatic leader also told The Interim, “Each month a new riding association registers, showing that we are on the move towards our goal of 72 ridings by September 1988.

Pennell stated, “We are pleased that we had the opportunity to participate in the London by-election and much new experience was gained which will help us in the future.”