Robin Richardson's Vancouver Island Party has pro-life and pro-family policies.

Robin Richardson’s Vancouver Island Party has pro-life and pro-family policies.

A new Vancouver Island separatist party has released its guiding principles which includes policies that some pro-life and pro-family supporters could welcome.

In a 44-page document, Robin Richardson, a former Member of Parliament, outlines the mission and guiding principles of the Vancouver Island Party. The VIP wants independence for Vancouver Island, voicing their motto “Island First and Proud of It!” They want the opportunity to maintain and enhance the way of life enjoyed by the inhabitants of Vancouver Island, free from the restraints of what it considers an insecure, left-leaning mainland government, but remaining a part of Canada as an eleventh province. The VIP states that its policy platform is “economically responsible, socially progressive, environmentally green, and culturally respectful.”

VIP believes in a fiscally responsible government, hence its insistence on balanced provincial budgets, elimination of the provincial government debt, making corporate/business taxes competitive with other Canadian jurisdictions, and exploring a flat income tax system. Fair labour laws and practices, green energy, development of rail and port facilities would be helpful to creating a buoyant green economy and lots of jobs for Vancouver Islanders, Richardson argues.

Richardson says that a new province could more easily carry out a democratic reform of government: adoption of some form of proportional representation; recall legislation; direct initiative/referendum; public funding of provincial parties; and a servant-leadership approach for all levels of government.

In health care policy, the party promises investments in palliative care and mental health, and to find savings in bulk purchasing of pharmaceutical drugs.

Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition, says “there are many policies that would be very welcome to pro-family and pro-life people, especially in the areas of health and education.”

VIP says it takes a centrist approach to public issues and their resolution, so while it is not prepared to outlaw abortion, its policies would reduce that practice over time. Richardson says VIP supports the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person. The party is prepared to make adoption easier, support parenting and pregnancy centres, and provide funding for post-abortion grief. It would protect unborn children’s health by reducing the perceived need for abortion through educational initiatives such as requiring comprehensive information on the full range of post-abortion effects on women having an abortion, and ensuring that evidence-based medicine must apply to all kinds and practices of medicine, including abortion, in order to obtain government funding under the Canada Health Act. The onus then would be on the doctor to prove that an abortion was necessary. Effectively, such an approach would result in fewer abortions because no abortion would be permitted unless the life of the mother was truly and demonstrably threatened by the pregnancy.

Moreover, freedom of conscience and religion would be respected and protected as per the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that health care professionals and institutions would be free to act according to their conscience in participating in or referring for euthanasia, assisted suicide or abortion.

The VIP platform would support the family structure by its declaration that it is the right and duty of parents to raise their own children responsibly, according to their own conscience and beliefs. It recognizes the principle that parents are the child’s first and most important teachers. This attitude in practice would help eliminate the type of state-imposed sexual health curriculum introduced in Ontario and so-called equity policies in Alberta. Families would be also given tax relief for homecare of their children (income splitting for couples with children) and government grants would be given on a per pupil basis to approved/qualified home schools equal to the grants given to school boards per student.

Yet according to Gunnarson, there are internal contradictions in some elements of the platform, or at least aspects that appear difficult to reconcile. He pointed to the fact that principle of environmentalism to conserve the natural environment of Vancouver Island, Gunnarson warns that language such as “sustainable development” come with baggage including population control measures that worry pro-life advocates.

VIP stands for devolution, explained as the concept of subsidiarity, the belief that social bodies like government exist for the sake of individuals and that whatever individuals can do for themselves, society or the state should not take over and do for them. Individuals should be held accountable for their actions and take responsibility for their own welfare as much as possible.

Gunnarson said “all in all, the Vancouver Island Party is a breath of fresh air on the political scene,” because “many of its policies make sense.” Without commenting on their goal of separating from British Columbia, Gunnarson said it is “refreshing” to see “an truly centrist party promote policies that are pro-life and pro-family.”