Everyone who follows these things knows that the leaders of the three major parties hold socially liberal views on abortion and homosexual rights and that the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democratic Party are either officially pro-abortion/pro-homosexual rights or extremely tolerant of abortion and special rights for homosexuals.
In interviews with Xtra, a Toronto homosexualist newspaper, PC leader John Tory and NDP leader Howard Hampton both gave answers that would please the gay readers of that publication, except on one issue (displaying a plaque at the provincial legislature recognizing the back lawn of Queen’s Park as the local gay community’s favourite meet-up spot for public sex). Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty was unable to answer the questionnaire, but did submit a letter explaining that he was proud to have legalized same-sex “marriage” in Ontario and to have both a gay and lesbian in his cabinet.
Hampton and McGuinty have repeatedly said they support a woman’s “right to choose” abortion and Tory is fond of describing himself as “socially progressive” – the code for a pro-abortion view.
It remains that the only pro-life party, and the only pro-life leader, is the Family Coalition Party and its head, Guiseppe Gori.
But a leader and platform does not a party make. The so-called mainstream parties have candidates who are willing to protect innocent human life, promote the interests of families and take a stand defending morality in the public square.
Following the 2003 election, Campaign Life Coalition identified at least 17 pro-life (or pro-life with exceptions) members of the provincial parliament, including Liberals Mario Sergio (York West) and Pat Hoy (Chatham-Essex-Kent) and Conservatives Jerry Oullette (Oshawa) and Gerry Martinuik (Cambridge).
Many new candidates, mostly in the Progressive Conservative party, have answered CLC’s questionnaire and are looking to join that tiny, but signficant, core of pro-life MPPs.
Progressive Conservative candidate Lisa Lumley is hoping to knock off Winsdor West MPP Sandra Pupatello, who is also the Liberal minister of economic development and trade, as well as minister responsible for women’s issues. But Lumley understands it is an uphill battle and always knew politics wasn’t going to be easy.
She told The Interimshe and her husband Greg became involved in politics five years ago, when she got tired of him complaining but not doing anything about it. She has little patience for “Christians who go to church and don’t do anything” when they see what’s wrong in society. She says Christians must have the courage to be “righteously angry to say ‘that’s enough.’”
The Lumleys got involved in federal politics at first and both serve on the federal Conservative riding association – Greg is the president, Lisa is the secretary. She says that while neither the federal or provincial party is perfect on issues affecting life and family, they currently have the best set of policies and people to advance a socially conservative agenda. “I do not agree with everything, but that’s why we’re here,” she says, explaining that only by getting involved in the parties can Christians make a difference in the public square.
She would like to see more candidates and politicians who have the “right morals” and sees her role as “influencing others for righteousness” – especially inside Queen’s Park if she is elected.
Lumley views running for public office as an extension of her life work in community service. She considers herself fortunate to have been a stay-at-home mom – her three children are now grown up – 22, 20, and 19 – and all are helping “in their own way” on the campaign – working seasonal jobs and volunteering with student and church groups.
Lumley says that “Canada is the best country in the world, but we have taken it for granted.”
She tells The Interimabout one time when she was feeling down about the current state of the country a few years ago. She had the privilege of sitting next to Stockwell Day at a dinner and noted to him her discouragement. Day reminded her of Winston Churchill’s advice to “never, never, never, never give up.” Since then, Lumley has recommitted herself to making Canada even better.
Bob Senechal is another pro-life Conservative candidate. He faces Liberal Guelph MPP Liz Sandals, the parliamentary assistant to the minister of education. But Guelph is a swing riding – she defeated incumbent PC MPP Brenda Elliott by a mere 3,000 votes in 2003. Senechal is hopeful that with the hard work of his dedicated group of supporters, he can be elected.
For 25 years, Senechal was an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, working in Montreal, Pickering and Guelph, among other locations. But seven years ago, he decided he wanted to get more involved in politics. He was the president of the Canadian Alliance Party in Guelph, played a role in the uniting of the CA and PC parties at the federal level in 2003 and served as vice-president of the federal riding association for the new Conservative Party.
He sought, but lost, the Conservative nomination in 2004. Since then, he has been active with the Guelph PC Association executive board. The provincial party asked him if he would consider running for them in 2007. He accepted, hoping to make a difference at Queen’s Park.
Senechal sees the work of an MPP as similar to what he has done as minister for a quarter-century and as a senior account manager in his brother’s cleaning supply and services company for the past seven years: listen to people and figure out solutions to problems.
Senechal tells The Interimhe isn’t going to Queen’s Park with many preconceived notions of what is needed, saying that input from constituents and stakeholders is essential to finding out what is necessary – and what will work – to solve society’s problems.
But that won’t stop him from raising questions about the important issues. Citing recent Statistics Canada figures, Senechal says that the changing look of Canadian families and the challenges they face require immediate action from all levels of government, so that the proper supports are put in place to allow family life to flourish.
Senechal has been married to his wife Gale for 32 years and they have had three children (one of whom has passed away).
If elected, Lumley and Senechal would join a small handful of sitting pro-life and pro-family MPPs. Among them is John O’Toole, MPP for Durham, east of Toronto, since 1995.
O’Toole says public policy must recognize the dignity of all human beings and cited the government’s lousy track record on long-term care, as well as Dalton McGuinty fighting families with autistic children in the courts, as examples where the present government has fallen short. He says that with a rapidly aging society, governments will be further challenged to to get long-term and mental health policies right if the elderly are to be accorded the dignity they deserve.
The three-term MPP told The Interim,“Mankind has a responsibility for one another” and that “in government, we deal with vulnerable people.” He sees his role as giving them a voice at Queen’s Park.
Over the years, O’Toole has been a tireless defender of the rights of parents and the interests of families. In 1996, O’Toole supported Bill 91, a private member’s bill that would have required the parents of a minor receiving medical treatment to be notified. That bill was defeated 42-34.
He has also sponsored a private member’s bill (that was defeated when the legislature was prorogued last spring) that would limit the display of what he calls “intrusive media.” “Sexually explicit material should be removed from the eye-level of children,” he says. He vows to bring it back if he is re-elected, saying that society has a right to shield children from the harmful effects of pornography and other sexually explicit material.
O’Toole has also sponsored a private member’s bill calling for the creation of a new provincial holiday for the third Monday of Friday, to be called Family Day. The Liberals kicked off their re-election campaign with a similar pitch, yet they never supported O’Toole’s private member’s bill when they had the chance.
On the education front, O’Toole says that parents need to be supported in their educational choices. “Parents are the primary educators and they should be the ones making decisions for their children” when it comes to deciding what schools to send them to.
Repeated calls to several Liberal candidates where not returned by press time. But Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes points to Sarnia MPP Pat Hoy as a stellar Liberal who has returned a perfect pro-life questionnaire for the past four elections. Hoy has also presented pro-life petitions to the legislature.
CLC Ontario organizer Mary-Ellen Douglas urges pro-life voters to look beyond the party label and closely examine the positions of individual candidates on life and family issues. “The only way we will make progress on these issues,” she explains, “is to elect politicians who make a stand on the sanctity of human life and other moral issues.” Without them, Douglas says, no breakthrough restricting or regulating abortion will be possible.