The pro-life political strategy proposed by Mr. Marchak (“Key to politics is participation,” September) is based on the outdated assumption that we still live in a responsible democracy. That hasn’t been true since Lester Pearson anointed Pierre Trudeau to succeed him. Canada has become an imperial oligarchy. One man – the prime minister – controls appointments in the four principal power points of our Canadian federal government: the House of Commons, the Senate, the governor-general, and the Supreme Court.

That’s why the strategy behind Liberals for Life has been so spectacularly unsuccessful. Establishment powerbrokers won’t support pro-lifers, no matter what. We’ve just seen another example, as the Liberal elite shot down Tom Wappel’s attempt to protect the definition of marriage.

Actually, it wouldn’t matter how many pro-life Liberals we nominate and elect, unless they stage a palace coup to re-take the party from the backroom boys who really run Canada. Pro-life MPs are allowed to say what they want on the hustings – up to a point. They may even be allowed to speak in caucus. But in the House, they’re told when and if they’ll speak, what to say, and how to vote.

Failed to Deliver

Mr. Marchak and I agree on one point: pro-life forces have failed to deliver the vote, perhaps because of the spirit of compromise engendered by political strategists trying to make a pro-life silk purse out of a Liberal-Tory-Reform sow’s ear. Mr. Marchak concludes that even the strategy of taking over an existing party by controlling the nominations still depends on all pro-life people being willing to participate in the political process.


We in the Christian Heritage Party agree. But how pro-life Canadians participate matters profoundly. Unless they choose to support a party which is committed to support pro-life MPs, we’re going to remain wallflowers, dancing alone outside the real ballroom.

In 1989, when a group of us presented the Conservative government with a proposal Canadian Christians would support, a pro-life Tory MP looked us in the eye and said, “But you can’t deliver their votes.” We were dead in the water, and we knew it.

The pro-life movement needs a new paradigm and a new strategy. It needs a party which is pro-life to the core – and the CHP is the only federal party which fits the bill – and it needs to stop working on the parties and start working on the churches.

About 80 per cent of Canadians say they are Christians. If they still don’t know that the right to life is a core Christian value, it is clear they are not being adequately instructed. If the church won’t do it, the para-church – including all pro-life groups – must.

Even if the goal remains to try to influence the mainstream parties, nothing will capture the attention of those parties like a massive swing to the only federal pro-life party in the field. Helping to engineer that swing holds more promise than any other strategy in sight.

Ron Gray is leader of the
Christian Heritage Party of Canada.