The possibility of forming a new political party is to be examined by a special Campaign Life Committee.  The Committee is to draft a platform, examine technical details of selection and nomination of candidates, and to report back to the national body.  This was the decision of Campaign Life Canada at its annual meeting on November 25, 1985.

Campaign Life is Pro-life’s major political movement in Canada.  Its 1985 annual meeting was held at Sharon, Ontario on the weekend of November 23-25.  One question dominated the meeting.  Where do we go from here, after being ignored by the existing political parties for fifteen years?

The question party or movement, or both, was discussed by some 35 delegates from across Canada, who spent the weekend near Sharon, Ontario.  On Saturday, they were joined by an additional dozen Toronto workers.

Earlier, on September 21 (on the occasion of the Ontario Pro-Life rally, attended by 25,000 people), some 100 delegates from Campaign Life Ontario discussed the same topic in two seminars.

A straw vote indicated at that time that slightly over half the participants favoured a new political party.

Friday night’s keynote speech was given by Father Alphonse de Valk.  He dealt with the present crisis in Western civilization.  He pointed out that society is facing an aggressive secularism and materialism which is not at all content with the gains it has made over the last two hundred years.  The aim today is to remove all Christian principles form the public forum, to replace Christian ideals, morals and mores with secular substitutes.  As a result, the family and the whole moral fiber of society are under attack; abortion is but one symptom of the decay.

Canadian political parties, Fr. De Valk said, are not addressing – and perhaps are incapable of addressing – the fact that the whole Judeo-Christian civilization is under assault in the West, including here in Canada.  The Mulroney government has been in place well over a year and it appears as vulnerable to secularist pressure, especially that of radical feminists, as its predecessor.  In Ontario six months of Liberal government are enough to have destroyed whatever hopes pro-life and pro-family Ontarians might have had.

The discussion which followed the keynote address over the next few days was lively and, on occasion, passionate.  There were, of course, arguments against starting a new party; lack of influence (at the beginning); a possible source of political division: leaving the impression, after the defeat of electoral candidates, that the pro-life movement is insignificant (something which might well be exploited by the media); issues other than those pertaining to family-sexual morality which might divide; problems of time, money, manpower and expertise.

Some argued that pro-life should continue to work through the existing parties.

Others stated that the time for a new party had dawned.  Already various groups in Canada such as in London (the anti-abortionist party) and B.C. (Christian party) were showing impatience at further delays.  The results of working within the existing parties are negligible, despite major efforts.  Those who are active within existing parties find themselves forced to compromise their pro-life principles.  More and more voters are being disenfranchised because they have no pro-life candidate in their riding.  It is far easier to support a new party than to get life-long partisans to vote for one of the other parties.  Above all, pro-family legislation is needed to restore the integrity of family life and education.

It was generally understood that a new party would have to have a platform on a range of issues.  The name Reform Party of Canada was suggested.

Delegates felt that Campaign Life would continue to exist, even after the formation of a party.  Campaign Life would be the guardian of the political pro-life movement while the party would deal with day-to-day issues.

Other topics of discussion concerned picketing, court cases, the building of a cross-country network, provincial and regional developments and concerns, political unity, provincial lobbying and need for an Ottawa lobbyist.

The Interim interviewed a few of the delegates from across the country who attended the Annual Campaign Life Meeting.  The following are some of their comments.

Margot Cafferty from the Outaouais are of Quebec said that in 1985 her group decided to concentrate on building their organization from the “grass roots up” utilizing public declarations such as “Pro-Life Weeks” and other activities to get the attention of the people and educate them.  To make the thrust more community oriented, they decided to structure three distinct groups in her area: Hull, Aylmer and Gatineau.  They work in tandem organization across the river (the Ottawa river), Action Life of Ottawa.  Margot mentioned the closing of the St. Therese abortuary saying the eloquent September 23 decision of Judge Meen in Ontario had a lot to do with that.  Judge Meen made it clear that lives were being taken in abortion and that indeed abortion clinics were in direct opposition with Canadian Law.

Frank Wagner said that the most significant thing to occur in his Campaign Life organization BC this year was a restructuring of personnel so that now the job to be done is suitable to the person doing it.  He also noted that although there are a number of pro-life boards in BC hospitals they all seem paralyzed with fear and are inactive so the abortion rate is very high. He said there can be no compromise with the hospitals: the “therapeutic abortion committees must be abolished.”

Anne Beardshall, from Alberta said that in Alberta there is a solid conservative government and every now and then the health minister bemoans the abortion situation but takes no action.  She said that the Catholic population seems dead with the issue and the bishops appear to have other things on their minds so they are concentrating on working with evangelicals who are new to the fight and are energetic and serious about pro-life.  “The Silent Scream is our best weapon at the moment,” she said.  She has spent the previous year setting up a network of workers to get the jobs done that need ding but reports no outstanding successes in the past year.  The abortion rate, she notes, although said to be down slightly in Alberta, has possibly increased as many women go to the US for abortions.

Cecilia Forsyth says that in Saskatchewan Campaign Life has to “rebuild.”  Abortion statistics are down for the province but she suggests that they are not being given the true figures and that there are many out-of-province abortions.

Ed Mullen of Nova Scotia came to his first Campaign Life Annual Meeting to find leadership and a plan for political action as well as suggestions for making the public more “sensitive” to the respect for life.  “I think there is a source of expertise, news and material and I think the source has to be this group as there is no one else to do it.  Campaign Life is just getting started.”