(This is the first in a series of short profiles on Federal Members of Parliament who have demonstrated a commitment to pro-life ideals.)
A veterinarian and veterinary surgeon, Gus Mitges was born in Greece and came to Canada at an early age. He grew up in Guelph, Ontario, where he completed his education at the University of Guelph.
He is married and the father of four children. Dr. Mitges was first elected to the House of Commons in 1972 and was re-elected in 1974, 1979, 1980 and 1984.
Dr. Mitges asserts that he has always abhorred abortion and believes it to be murder. He believes that life begins at conception and therefore should be given every opportunity to survive until natural death. For Dr. Mitges, this is not a matter of religious doctrine but of basic human rights.
At the time of the Constitutional debates, Dr. Mitges was one of those few Members of Parliament who voted against the Charter of Rights because it did not include explicit protection for the unborn child. He states that this action has only helped and not hindered his popularity with the voters of Grey-Simcoe, as he not only won the last election with a plurality of almost 14,000 votes, he also won every poll within the riding.
Mitges has submitted a Private Members’ Motion (M-37) which seeks approval of the House of Commons to amend the Charter of Rights to explicitly include the unborn child. This motion will be debated in one-hour segments and will eventually be voted upon by Members of Parliament. Dr. Mitges chose to try to amend the Charter of Rights rather than the Criminal Code sections allowing abortion because he feels that Charter protection for the unborn child would be more secure. Whereas an amendment to the Criminal Code could be easily changed by Parliament, a Constitutional amendment to the Charter would be more difficult to change, albeit more difficult to secure in the first place.
Dr. Mitges believes that a majority of Canadians are against abortion and points to his own overwhelming electoral victories as a known pro-life advocate as proof of this. As well, on a recent Vancouver radio talk-show discussing his motion, not one caller was against it. Mail on the topic is not very different, with 1,000 letters already received in his office in support pf the motion – and one against. Other Members of Parliament have received letters supporting M-37, and Dr. Mitges suggests that letters to MPs and the Prime Minister in support of his motion should be a priority for all those who share his abhorrence of abortion.