Ontario’s pro-life community hopes to make some impact in provincial municipal elections scheduled for Monday, November 10.

While the provincial government’s mega-city legislation is expected to dominate the municipal election agenda, voters will be curious to note what measure of pro-family sentiment might be found among candidates vying for city councillor and school board trustee positions.

Pro-family elements will also note what effect amalgamation might have on municipal affairs. Will the reduced number of councilors and school trustees render local politics less sensitive to the concerns of parents and local taxpayers? Will any new pro-life leaders breakthrough at town councils or school boards?

Municipal government is not generally seen as the arena for debate into the politics of abortion and pro-family issues. Nonetheless many items of concern to parents, including sex education, public health information, school curriculum components, and support for organizations such as Planned Parenthood or UNICEF, fall to local legislators and trustees.

For this reason, many parents urge pro-life voters to pay close attention to the attitudes of school trustee candidates. “Education is one of the last areas of public policy where parents can exert some measure of control,” said Janet Smith of Kettleby, Ontario, north of Toronto.

Smith recently joined a group of concerned parents in opposing elements of the York Region public school board’s sex education curriculum.

She believes if parents spent a much time evaluating trustee candidates as they did other aspects of their children’s lives, then fewer controversial, anti-family programs would crop up on school board agendas.

Richard Marchak, a Kitchener, Ontario attorney, said they may be a perception that municipal politics is not the best venue for the expression of right to life concerns. He added however that many legislators who may go on to influential politicians in provincial or federal politics, first come to attention at the local level.

“Many important decisions are made at city councils and school boards,” Marchak told The Interim, “so it would be a mistake not to bring some pro-life influence to this level of politics. He said that in some cases, legislators begin to demonstrate a pro-life, pro-family attitude on the municipal stage.

Marchak said it is important for pro-life people to actively support positive candidates or to consider running for local office themselves. He referred to the Accountable Action group on Kitchener-Waterloo which elected seven pro-family candidates in the last municipal campaign.

Pro-life voters are also advised to take note of local politics as a countermeasure to anti-life forces. The NDP, which introduced party politics to municipalities, has a long history of working to win control of local councils and school boards.

NDP stalwarts such as Toronto city councilor Jack Layton, in fact make no secret of their hostility to pro-life aims. Layton, who contests practically every election called, supports the civil rights restrictions of Ontario’s pro-life community.

Furthermore, the NDP’s ideologically-driven conduct often brings an additional level of conflict and partisanship to local politics. And – in the case of separate school boards – often forces educators and parents to be on the lookout for proposals which are at odds with church teaching or traditional Judao-Christian morality.