The pro-abortion government of David Peterson was voted back into power September 10, gaining one of the largest majorities in Ontario history. Despite this, pro-life leaders in the province have found some reason to be happy about the election results. In 36 ridings across the province, candidates ran under the pro-family, pro-life Family Coalition Party banner. Party leaders are pleased with the level of support these candidates received.
In those 36 ridings, the FCP obtained over 48,000 votes. This is being hailed as a significant pro-life achievement.
The FCP was registered as a political party in Ontario less than two months prior to the election call, and throughout the summer the party was waging a battle against time.
When the election was called on July 31, only seven FCP candidates had been nominated. Once the writ was down, that number quickly grew. “When people discovered that there was no pro-life candidate in their riding, word spread and a highly qualified person would decide to run for us,” Said FCP spokesman Vince Higgins.
Candidates for the FCP won an average of over 1,300 votes each. In six riding, FCP candidates won over 2,000 votes each. Don Best in Brampton, Adrian Keet in Bruce, Peter Westfall in Lambton, Bill Giesen in Middlesex, Dr. Alex Calder in Peteroborough and Diane Roblin Lee in Victoria Haliburton. Overall, the FCP won an average of 4.2 per cent of the vote in those ridings in which it ran candidates.
In a press release issued after the election the Party showed that if there had been an FCP candidate in every riding, that percentage would have translated into a total of over 170,000 votes across the province.
Party spokesmen are pleased because they believe that in any future election the percentage of the vote going to the FCP will increase. The late start of many of the candidates, the novelty of the party and the Liberal sweep are all seen as factors which worked against the party and which will probably not be a factor in the next election.
Family Coalition candidates were not the only pro-life candidates in the election. Campaign Life Coalition identified 21 pro-life candidates in the major parties. Campaign Life Coalition sent a copy of its “Pro-life Statement” to all candidates, asking them to adopt it as their own.
The Statement was an uncompromising summation of the pro-life position. By signing it, candidates directly expressed their opposition to the opening of any new abortion facilities, the funding of abortion and the direct killing of any unborn child. The statement was worded so that only those candidates who were truly pro-life and willing to be identified as such, cold sign it.
“It reflects our experience that only committed MPPs dare voice their pro-life views when faced with the pro-abortion policies of their party leaders,” said the group’s Ontario Co-ordinator Paul Dodds.
The fact that 21 major party candidates signed without reservation was described as satisfying by Campaign Life Coalition. “By signing such a statement, the candidates were clearly taking a position which conflicted with the stated policy of their leaders,” said Dodds. “If we have just a few MPPs who are willing to speak out on the issue it will be an improvement.
Over half those who signed were Conservative candidates. However, it included two NDP candidates. Patrick Hayes, MPP for Essex-Kent; and Gilles Pouliot, MPP for Lake Nipigon. Of these two, only Pouliot was re-elected. Among the Liberals, four candidates signed the Statement without any reservations.
The results of the voting were far less satisfactory for Campaign Life Coalition. Many of the pro-life candidates were caught by the Liberal landslide and went down to defeat. These included Jack Pierce the Conservative MPP for Rainy River, who has repeatedly taken a public pro-life stand. He was defeated by the NDP challenger when enough of Pierce’s supporters switched to the Liberals, enabling the NDP to win.
The final result is that there is only one member in each party caucus who has signed the pro-life Statement. They are Noble Villeneuve (PC Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry), Bruce Owen (Lib. Simcoe Centre), and Gilles Pouliot (NDP, Lake Nipigon).
The election was marked by the usual efforts of candidates to claim they were pro-life while taking an ambiguous stand on the issue. There were a number of candidates who were found talking out of both sides of their mouths.
When asked by pro-lifers if they were pro-life, these candidates or their workers would reply that the candidate was a Catholic and certainly pro-life. At the same time, these same candidates publicly stated their support of the Peterson government’s abortion policies. Such candidates included Tony Ruprecht, Parkdale; Joe Cordiano, Downsview; and Cindy Nicholas, Scarborough Centre.
“The lack of honesty on the part of candidates, shows the importance of being smart when dealing with politicians. If you ask a candidate if he or she is pro-life, they know that you are pro-life and will give some meaningless answer such as, “I am too.” If you really want to know a candidate’s stand on abortion, ask him where he stands on the issue of “choice,” advised Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes.