Discussions on forming a pro-life political party have been ongoing since the 1985 Campaign Life annual meeting authorized a committee to investigate the possibilities. During the winder of 1985-6, weekly meetings were held to draw up a series of general policy statements on a variety of topics which run more or less parallel to ministries in federal and provincial governments.
In April 1986, the Committee authorized a full-page advertisement in The Interim seeking the views of pro-life people. 325 responses were received. (27 came from Ontario, 33 from B.C., 26 from Alberta, 13 from Saskatchewan and the remainder from each of the other provinces.)
Replies to questionnaire
Question Yes % of
4 Have you worked with a candidate during elections? 89 27
5 Have you participated in nomination meetings? 88 27
9 Have you lost your franchise to vote, etc.? 255 79
11 Working with existing parties: -possible 80 25
12 -impossible 143 44
-don’t know 28 10
13 Should new party be formed or -new 159 49
should we work with existing -existing 41 13
or both? (no to new party) -both 137 42
14 Should new part restrict itself -restrict 110 34
or have many ridings? -many 206 63
15 Would like more information when ready 223 69
Prepared to seek members – 112 35
The most significant result is that of the 325 respondents, 255 (79 per cent of the total) believe that pro-life people have lost their franchise, or in other words, have no candidate to vote for in good conscience. Of these 255, some 154 believe that the old parties are beyond redemption.
While the Campaign Life Committee continued its work in Toronto, the Christian Heritage Party was formed in British Columbia. It proceeded immediately with a federal registration and presented itself in the public forum.
In Ontario, meanwhile, a Campaign Life regional meeting in Niagara Falls at the beginning of May 1986 discussed and debated the Committee’s political programme, especially its family statement. Agreement with this statement was regarded by the Committee as the basic standard by which to identify the candidates who might be willing to run for a new pro-life party. (The Committee also regarded the pro-family summary as a standard by which to evaluate the pro-life stand of candidates in the old parties).
The Niagara meeting of some 50 delegates liked most of what was presented as policy, including the pro-family minimum standard. However, there was a division of opinion about the stand against contraceptives, a few opposing it for reasons of principle, others out of political pragmatic considerations. A greater consensus was acquired later on after the meeting, when the rejection of contraceptives was replaced with a rejection of the contraceptive mentality. This moved the emphasis of the objection away from the private behaviour of the individual to that of institutional and governmental action in prom promoting advertising, and subsidizing contraception in the public forum, either directly, or via such organizations as Planned Parenthood, Birth Control Centres and other such anti-child, anti-family channels.
Family Coalition Party
Another regional meeting at the Toronto Public Policy conference in July, showed a firm majority for the option of a new political party. At the same time, Campaign Life Toronto felt itself more and more burdened with a workload already too heavy to bear. Committee members committed to a new party were informed by Campaign Life workers that they, rather than Campaign Life, would have to organize a party, if they wished to go ahead. Thus a new small provincial executive was formed which now faced political action independent of Campaign Life itself.
At the end of August this executive, consisting of Dr. John Meenan, William Mullally and Don Pennell, together with some liaison from Campaign Life, decided to proceed with the consultation for a new party name, using the work done on the party platform by the Campaign Life committee as the basis of a new party. Because electoral regulations ruled out the use of Democratic (already in use by the NDP) and Christian (now in use by the Federal Christian Heritage Party), it was decided to submit only two names to some 375 people (mostly respondents to the April questionnaire and active Campaign Life workers) with Labour Day as the deadline. The results were as follows:
Selection of Name for New Party
Letters sent out July 31st or earlier – 379
Number of replies – 78
Renewal Party – 35
Family Coalition – 42
Other – 1
Help with Signature Campaign:
Yes – 49
No – 29
Obviously, the number of replies was disappointing. This may have bee a result of summer vacations. Be that as it may, having decided beforehand that a 50 plus 1 majority would settle the problem of a name, the executive adopted Family Coalition Party as the name of this party.
The Campaign Life Committee presented the directors of the Campaign Life annual meeting in Winnipeg on October 3-5 with a series of propositions which would be voted upon. Starting with the first (“would Campaign Life dissolve itself into a new party?”) it became clear that Campaign Life Canada had no wish to transform itself into a political party.
While strongly recognizing the need for a pro-life party and pro-life candidates, Campaign Life directors voted amicably to divorce the Campaign Life organization from any initiatives that may be taken to form such a party. Campaign Life will continue to support those candidates for office who make the defence of unborn babies a public priority in politics.
A representative of the federal level Christian Heritage party announced that this party would hold a policy conference sometime in the spring of 1987.
After the Winnipeg meeting of Campaign Life had closed, Family Coalition Party director, Don Pennell announced the intention to restrict the party to Ontario, for the time being. An office has now been opened in Burlington, Ontario. Any interested parties may direct their enquiries to:
Family Coalition Party
450 John Street
Burlington, ON L7R 2K5