Alberta pro-life supporters are cautiously optimistic with news of Premier Ralph Klein’s landslide victory in the March 11 provincial election.

Klein’s Conservative government captured 51 per cent of the popular vote to win 63 of the 83 seats in the Alberta legislature. The premier rode a wave to fiscal conservatism to win another mandate from to a generally complacent electorate. He ran on a record of eliminating the province’s $3.4 billion deficit and paying down a whopping $32 billion provincial debt.

Alberta pro-lifers suggested the Klein government is preferable to the alternative parties in terms of right to life issues.

“The Conservative government is more approachable on the right to life question,” said Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-Life. “It’s not a closed door as it is with other political parties.”

Nixon was pleased to note the re-election of a number of pro-life MLAs in the Klein sweep. She said pro-lifers in Alberta will monitor the government to see if its conservative approach to fiscal matters will extend to the social and moral area.

Local pro-lifers took issue with Klein’s statement during the campaign that abortion de-funding was not an issue. “Politicians can set the timing of elections but they aren’t the ones who determine what issues are important to the people at large,” said Nixon.

Before coming to Alberta Pro-Life, Nixon belonged to an ad-hoc committee attempting to remove abortion from the provincial list of insured medical procedures. The committee disbanded last October, but there is still strong sentiment among Alberta voters for a similar initiative.

During the campaign, an Alberta pro-family coalition provided voters with an information kit outlining each candidate’s stand on right to life issues. The Social Credit party, which failed to elect a single candidate, attempted to raise the abortion de-funding issue in its campaign literature, but for the most part there was little discussion of abortion de-funding throughout the election.

Irene Vanderveen, director of Alberta Pro-Life Edmonton called Klein a “good fiscal conservative,” but wondered about his approach to life issues.

“The premier should realize that unless she becomes more socially conservative, he stands to lose some support,” Vanderveen said. She suggested there are a number of MLAs in Klein’s government who would support pro-life initiatives, such as abortion de-funding.

“It’s as if there are two conservative elements in Klein’s government,” said Vanderveen. “One side favors the fiscal restraint while the other supports a socially conservative approach.”

Ontario pro-lifers had similar hopes when the Mike Harris Conservatives were elected in the summer of 1995. Harris, however, has disappointed pro-life supporters by failing to dispense with an NDP-initiated injunction against pro-life demonstrations near abortion clinics and hospitals.