The election is over. The Liberals have been defeated. For the first time since 1896 the Conservatives have emerged from being a regional party to a truly National party with a bilingual leader and the return of Quebec to its fold. The New Democrats held their own, staying almost unchanged in number of seats, but with a shift of strength from the Prairies to Ontario.
What about abortion as a political issue? Did the issue play a role in the defeat of the Liberals and in the rise of the Tories? Or were the efforts of those who worked for the pro-life cause perhaps in vain? In coming months Campaign Life will do an analysis in order to arrive at some provisional answers to these questions.
The following is not an analysis. Rather, it is an overview of the publicity which attended the abortion issue during the 1984 election campaign.
The first publicity concerning the abortion issue came with Iona Campagnolo, president of the Liberal Party, who is well known for her support of the idea that every woman has the right to abortion-on-demand. On Tuesday, July 17, 1984, The Toronto Star reported that, after “running the gauntlet of about 20 demonstrations outside a Liberal meeting in Scarborough last night,” Mrs. Campagnolo offered the opinion, “I think it is because I’m a woman.” The reporter noted the irony of the fact that she was addressing supporters of Scarborough West Liberal MP David Weatherhead “who is an anti-abortion advocate.” “We agree to disagree,” Weatherhead said after greeting Campagnolo. (Note: On September 4, the Liberal MP was defeated by pro-life Tory Reginald Stackhouse. Together with the ridings of Kitchener and Kenora-Rainy River, this was one of three Ontario ridings with no less than two pro-life candidates. John Reimer, PC, won in Kitchener against Liberal Peter Lang, and in Kenora, both pro-life candidates, John Reid and Al Lugli, were defeated by NDP John Parry, who favours tightening of the law.)
The same Star article of July 17, alluded to the ire incurred by Mrs. Campagnolo from anti-abortion groups, on the weekend in Alberta when she called them ‘intolerant’ and ‘narrow minded’. According to United Press Canada, she said, “she had received death threats from members of some anti-abortion groups, including members of Campaign Life.” The Star reporter observed that representatives of Campaign Life had announced legal action against her, stating that “Ms. Compagnolo has employed the lowest form of political muckraking.”
Aside from taking legal action, Campaign Life also carried the battle to Mrs. Campagnolo’s own North-Vancouver/Burnaby riding with an appearance of Joe Borowski. (“Anti-abortionists tackle Campagnolo on her turf,” North Shore News, August 8.) Mrs. Campagnolo was defeated on September 4, coming in second. Not defeated were Margaret Mitchell and Svend Robinson, two outspoken right-to-abortion NDP’ers. Mitchell won with a plurality of 11,000, with pro-life Jack Volrich, former mayor of Vancouver, coming in third. Svend Robinson, targetted by Campaign Life with leaflets such as “A Vote for Robinson is a Vote for Morgentaler,” won Burnaby with a majority of 7,500, double that of four years ago.
While the Campagnolo controversy received mention across Canada, on radio and in newspapers (e.g. letter to editor from the president of CARAL, Globe, August 13), a revealing report appeared in the Edmonton Journal, Tuesday, July 17, entitled “Pro-lifers poll candidates.” After explaining the two questions which were to be put to candidates via the Campaign Life questionnaire, the reporter stated that Kathleen Toth (vice-president of Campaign Life Alberta),
“…claimed Conservative MPs Don Mazankowski, David Kilgour, Arnold Malone, Al Cooper, Gorton Taylor, Peter Elzinga and Gordon Towers support anti-abortion movement. She claimed Edmonton South candidate Jim Edwards also supports the movement.
When she checked with the candidates, the Toth claim proved to be accurate. “I’m a pro-lifer and will always be a pro-lifer,” Mazankowski said.
Commenting on Liberal Party president Iona Campagnolo’s remarks that anti-abortion groups are intolerant and narrow-minded, Mazankowski said: “Campagnolo herself is intolerant. That party doesn’t have much credibility in Western Canada and she’s nothing but a defeated Grit.”
Kilgour, Edmonton Strathcona MP, said he would certainly work to have the legal rights of the unborn protected, but said he would give Campaign Life’s second question “a bit more thought.”
“It’s a question of degree, but I’ve always supported pro-life,” he said.
Red Deer MP, Gordon Towers, said he has always supported the right-to-life movement.
Edwards said he would answer ‘yes’ to both Campaign Life questions.
Malone, Crowfoot MP, said: “It’s not that I support just the group, but my personal perspective and the group’s are the same. If there is not respect for the life of the fetus, then we get into difficulty with respect to non-fetus life.”
Cooper said: “I don’t support abortion on demand although I haven’t been contacted by Campaign Life yet.”
The Peace River MP said he would work to have a baby’s legal rights protected, but would have to examine Campaign Life’s second question closely and look at the agencies receiving funding.
Elzinga and Taylor could not be reached for comment.
“We are not asking the candidates what they believe personally,” Toth said. “But we want to know what they’ll do if they are elected.”
The next day another Edmonton Journal reporter did reach the president of the federal Tory Party and reported the reply under the heading “PC party chief favours tougher abortion laws.” (Edmonton Journal, July 18, A3)
The president of the federal Tory party says he is pro-life and if re-elected will work to toughen up the nation’s abortion laws.
“There’s no hotter place in hell than the place for those who sit on the fence in moral issues,” Pembina MP Peter Elzinga told The Journal.
Speaking personally, Elzinga said he believes abortion should be allowed only when the mother’s life is at stake, but he does not expect any change in the PC policy which allows its members to follow their own consciences when voting on the issue.
While Elzinga said he agreed with the first position (of the questionnaire), he said he would like to examine the latter issue more closely.
While he said that Campaign Life tactics have been offensive to some people, “they’ve not bothered me.”
Elzinga said his beliefs were in line with his Christian Reform religion, and he believes there are probably more than the seven pro-life PC incumbents that Campaign Life Alberta already says support the organization. (Eventually Campaign Life listed nine PCs, two Liberal and one independent.)
Abortion is a major issue whether or not the politicians want it to be, said Elzinga. “I would hate for it to centre on this one issue, at the expense of Tory stances on pensions for homemakers and doubling the number of women on government boards,” he said.”
Inevitably, opponents of pro-life were consulted, too. Hence, an accompanying article was headed: “Pro-Life groups ‘demagogues.'”
Lawyer Halyna Freeland, who teaches a university course on women and the law, was quoted as saying: “I think Campaign Life (members) are demagogues of the worst kind.” Trudy Richardson, Alberta representative for the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) agreed (with Freeland), saying that the survey was “a kind of blackmail.” Ellen Ticol, on the steering committee of Abortion by Choice, Edmonton, thought that Alberta pro-life MPs “have an uneducated, narrow view” that “isn’t reflected in the rest of the country.”
On September 4, all nine of the above “uneducated” PC pro-life members were elected or re-elected.
During the remainder of July and the beginning of August, abortion did not appear to surface as a public election issue. Of course, by the end of July most candidates had received questionnaires from Campaign Life.
They wanted candidates to indicate whether a) they favoured full legal protection for the unborn; and b) whether, if elected, they would work to stop the public funding of agencies which promote and endorse abortion.
On July 30, the Toronto Globe carried an article “Rival challenges women’s group on debate agenda,” referring to the challenge of REAL Women of Canada to NAC’s claim to represent Canadian women. “The NAC is using this debate (TV debate of three leaders on so-called women’s issues) to push its narrow and extremist views,” Gwen Landolt was quoted as saying.
The pro-family REAL Women group originated partly because of the anti-child, anti-life, anti-family stand of NAC.
A second event which drew the attention of newspaper readers to the abortion issue was the U.N.-sponsored Congress in Mexico City at the beginning of August. American and Vatican delegations opposed Third World aid in the form of abortion funding: “Abortion issue triggers rift in Conference” (Toronto Star, August 10, F6). Canada’s delegation led by pro-abortionist Lorna Marsden, (recently appointed Senator by Trudeau), heavily favoured the Planned Parenthood approach, including abortion as a back-up birth control method. Indeed, Planned Parenthood of Canada had its own delegation at the Congress (“Censors rile Canadian group,” Globe, August 9.)
A third instance of how the abortion issue remained in the public eye (without a direct relationship to the election) was the decision rendered by Associate Chief Justice William Parker on July 20, that Canada’s abortion law does not violate the Charter of Rights. He ordered Henry Morgentaler to stand trial, along two associates, “for conspiring to procure a miscarriage” in a private clinic. The usual newspaper reports followed from the local inflexible Advocates of Feminist Rights. On July 31, Laura Sabia used her regular column in the Toronto Sun to lash out at the world, starting her outburst with the sentence “The law is an ass.” Halfway down in the column, under the heading “Intimidating Tactics,” Sabia, who claims to be a Catholic but who makes it a point to attack her church regularly on this issue, wrote the following:
“Hospitals have abdicated their responsibility to the women of Canada. Harassed by the so-called “pro-life movement” funded by the church, the hospitals have caved in to intimidation and bully-boy tactics. I defend the anti-abortionists’ right to hold their negative thinking on abortion, but I part company with them when by “fair means and foul” they want to impose their brand of morality to everyone else in society.
Reproductive freedom is a basic human right – to bear or not to bear a child is a woman’s choice. If women can’t control their lives from the skin in, they can’t control their lives from the skin out. Abortion should be taken out of Criminal Code immediately. Morris Manning, the lawyer for Morgentaler, in the recent case to have the law on abortion ruled unconstitutional, described the law on abortion as “discriminatory, arbitrary, cruel, unusual and unfair.” No truer words were even spoken”.
With the help of feminists like Sabia, June Callwood and other supporters of CARAL, Morgentaler has been successful in keeping his case in the public eye.
On August 10 and 11, newspapers across the country reported that he had decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Two weeks later, his lawyer, Morris Manning tried a new tactic. He demanded that Ontario Attorney-General Roy McMurtry remove prosecutor Alan Cooper from the case because his superior was alleged to have material on the unborn fetus on his desk (August 22, 23, 25 Star, Globe, Sun, The Hamilton Spectator, the St. Catherines Standard, etc.) This was such a blatant attempt to rig future proceedings in Morgentaler’s favour that Campaign Life Ontario sent a letter of protest to the Disciplinary Committee of the Ontario Law Society.
Finally, on August 28, Morgentaler entered the election fray directly by holding a press conference in which he attacked the Catholic Church as well as the Tories. The election of PC’s, he claimed, would be a disaster for “pro-choice” women and set their cause back fifteen years. Those who favoured the right to abortion should vote NDP, he said. (See, for example, “Tories would set back pro-abortion movement,” Ottawa Citizen, August 29.)
With regard to the Catholic Church, Morgentaler followed this approach dating back to 1968, that is, pitting Catholics against their leaders. Only 5% of Catholics paid attention to the hierarchy’s opposition to abortion, he said. As evidence he pointed to Ms Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in the United States. Ferraro, who is Catholic, yet insists on accepting a woman’s right to have an abortion, is typical, Morgentaler claimed, of Catholics at large.
Morgentaler’s press conference was given widespread publicity on national and local radio television, as well as in print media. (For example, “Abortion doc rips PCs”, The Toronto Sun, August 29.) Only CBC radio tried to balance things out. It put Jim Hughes of Campaign Life on the same broadcast. All other stations and there were many, gave full play to Morgentaler.
The case of Mrs. Ferraro (i.e. Mrs. Zaccaro) leads directly to a reflection on what transpired during the election campaign in Canada. It is a most important development.
Many active pro-life people are practising Christians. Over a number of years they have come to believe that on the abortion issue politicians have been hiding their Christian faith under a bushel basket, as the biblical expression has it. Recently, the more evangelical groups among Protestants have begun to take an active role in opposition to legalized abortion. The more numerous Catholic pro-lifers, however, had been doing “a slow burn” about politicians for ten years or more. In day-to-day politics this conviction had led already to a growing disenchantment with all three political parties by the late seventies. Alienation appeared least operative with the Progressive Conservatives and strongest with the NDP, which generally attracts the more aggressively secular-minded supporters. It also carried a right-to-abortion-on-demand plank in its national platform since 1971. However, it affected the Liberal party most because, as the government party, it was held responsible for what transpired in 1969. Moreover, it was also the traditional party for many Catholics.
From previous elections it has become clear that there are a considerable number of alienated Catholic Liberals in Ontario and Saskatchewan, for example. This is so, despite what some political scientists may have believed when they were quoted during the 1980 election as saying that abortion was not an election issue. It may not have been an issue on the surface, but it certainly acted as a political dissolvent destroying loyalties generations old.
Furthermore, the pro-life movement cuts deeper than many media people believe.
For example, newspaper supplements of persons opposing abortion or abortion clinics published in daily newspapers between December 1982 and November 1983 at a cost of $2.00 per person, carried 33,000 names in New Brunswick (December); 40,000 in Manitoba (March 1983); 37,000 in Alberta (May 1983) and 46,000 in some areas of South Western and Eastern Ontario (November 21, 1983). A Pro-Life rally in Toronto on October 1, 1983, was attended by well over 25,000 according to three separate estimates of Toronto City police (Toronto Star, Sunday, October 2, 1983). This alienation from parties pursuing anti-life policies had been growing for some time, yet without public involvement from Canadian church leaders.
The new factor in the election of 1984 came in the area of church leaders’ attitudes. For the first time, a number of Catholic Bishops decided to take a public stand on politicians who accept or support the abortion philosophy. A few declarations on the political dimension of abortion from individual Catholic Bishops had appeared earlier, such as that of James Mahoney, Bishop of Saskatoon in March 1977, and of Bishop Adam Exner of Kamloops, B.C., in July 1979. At the start of 1983, however, three other events seemed to require a stiffer response: the renewed Morgentaler drive for free-standing abortuaries, the newly-repeated approval of legalized abortion by the Anglican Synod (January 1983) and the unchanged condemnation of abortion in the newly published, revised, Code of Canon Law. This led the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa to issue a fresh statement on Abortion in September 1983, the first one in ten years. Among other items it emphasized more clearly the 1975 Vatican rejection of co-operating with, or defending the legislation of abortion by legislative bodies.
Meddling in politics?
In August 1984, more Catholic Church leaders seem to have felt the need to speak out clearly about the continuing encroachment of secularist politics upon abortion as a question of law and politics.
It started with an editorial, by a lay man, in the August 11 edition of the Catholic Register, “Make your vote a vote for life.” Among other things the editor, Larry Henderson, made it clear that a vote for the present abortion law was not a pro-life vote, and that “if you have no candidate to vote for, do not vote.” This struck the Toronto Star as so newsworthy that the front page of its Sunday, August 12, edition carried the story “Back pro-life or don’t vote, Catholics told.” It included comments from a Toronto prelate who hastily pointed out that the newspaper was independent and did not involve the Bishops.
The Archdiocesan communications officer, Fr. Brad Massman, did the same. The next day the latter thought it useful to belittle the whole idea. “It’s a pretty small magazine-about 50,000 circulation-” he said in an interview, “and if anybody gets the idea this opinion represents church policy, all this resultant publicity will set them straight.” (Globe, August 14). The Globe noted, however, that:
“the abortion issue… may erupt again in the same newspaper when it publishes a list with ratings of which candidates should be supported because of their position on the subject.”
The list of ratings, of course, was being prepared by the political organization of the pro-life movement.
The Toronto Star carried the story on its front page for two more days with resultant publicity elsewhere, as for example, in the Hamilton Spectator: “RCs argue over don’t vote abortion stand” (August 14). The local Campaign Life representative, Mrs. Shirley Pennell, supported the Register editorial and the importance of abortion as an election issue. On the other hand, Fr. Stephen Connor, while acknowledging that “our constant moral view is that abortion is a public disaster,” nevertheless added: “I see a whole variety of life related issues. Abortion is one; so too is unemployment and peace.”
The Windsor Star, reporting the event a few days later as “Voting, Abortion linked” (August 17), used the opportunity to enquire from local candidates where they stood on the issue.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, August 15, the Hamilton newspaper had carried on its front page the news that the local Catholic Bishop, Anthony Tonnos, had ordered an election survey of candidates and their stand on abortion to be distributed to the 300,000 faithful of the Hamilton diocese.
He intended to use the listing prepared by Campaign Life. No sooner had this reached the media, including radio and television, than a report arrived that the bishops of Manitoba, of both Latin and Ukranian rites, had issued a pastoral letter advising parishioners to vote for federal election candidates who oppose abortion. To those who thought that the Church was meddling in politics, the vicar-general of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, Fr. Henri Perron, pointed out that abortion was first and uppermost a moral question. “The pastoral letter” said the Winnipeg Free Press of August 16, “urges Catholics not to support candidates who uphold pro-abortion or pro-choice positions or are vague on the abortion question.” (pg.4)
The Toronto Star reported Winnipeg Archbishop Adam Exner as saying that, “as pastors they (the six bishops) have a responsibility to provide moral guidance.” (“Bishops set up an anti-abortion drive,” Star, August 15).
By this time, the Star’s feminist columnist, Lynda Hurst, had attacked the Register editorial (“Forfeiting vote cheats democracy and Church,” August 14). The Hamilton Spectator questioned the approach of both Campaign Life and the Manitoba Bishops in an August 17 editorial “Voting with blinkers?”, while two weeks later the well known NDP supporter and historian Desmond Morton was heard to disparage the Manitoba bishops on radio. The Medical Post also published a hostile editorial “The Right to Strife,” an article which can best be described as irresponsible and highly unprofessional.
On August 22, Cardinal Carter, Archbishop of the largest diocese in English-speaking Canada, Toronto, came out with his own letter, apparently prepared well-ahead of the ongoing debate. “Cardinal say key issues ignored by candidates” announced the Globe of August 23. The Star heading was clearer: “Quiz candidates on abortion stand, Cardinal urges,” while the Toronto Sun of August 24 summarized it as “Fight Abortion. Cardinal tells flock to vote.” On “pro-choice” the Cardinal stated:
“Freedom of choice is used as the buzz-word for this infanticide as though there were any freedom to kill a human life. By some strange travesty of logic it has become acceptable to kill a child fully formed and even capable of living on his or her own systems, provided the killing is done within the womb of the mother. The same child in the same circumstances extracted from the womb and put to death by an outside agency would be subject of an investigation. As long as it is done before delivery and with excuse of necessity, frequently of the flimsiest kind, it becomes freedom of choice and is not subject to our recrimination.”
The effect of these statements on the electoral process could not be mistaken. The Interim with its rating list, published a 24-page edition of 175,000 copies on Thursday, August 16. The same evening, the Hamilton Spectator printed that part of the Interim list which pertained to Hamilton ridings. An updated chart was also being prepared as an advertisement for the Catholic Register, to include Western Canada and an analysis of the three leaders in one edition (August 25), and Central and Eastern Canada as a centerfold in the next (September 2). Furthermore, an Italian translation appeared in installments in the Corriere Canadese of August 29 and 31. Bulk orders of 50,000 copies were shipped to Manitoba; 31, 5000 to Saskatchewan, 8,000 to Vancouver and 26,000 to Hamilton.
Suddenly, candidates who would not communicate with Campaign Life representatives felt obliged to announce where they stood on this issue. Others claimed, with some resentment about the publicity, that they had been misquoted or really didn’t deserve the classification of “Widening the availability of abortion.”
At Campaign Life headquarters in Toronto, the extra phones which had been installed rang incessantly during the last three weeks of the election period. Literally hundreds of people — sixty to eighty each day –phoned for information on candidate’s view on abortion,
In Hamilton, Ontario, one of the more prominent candidates, NDP House Leader Ian Deans, attacked his rating in the local newspaper and on radio and television, as “a lie.” Another candidate, Tory Bud Bradley claimed he had been misunderstood. This traveled across the country by radio and television and Canadian Press and, in turn, led to hostile editorials, such as “Loose Interpretations” (The Spectator, August 17), and columns, such as those of Frank Jones in The Toronto Star (“Pro-life Tactics Abhorrent,” August 21) and June Sheppard in The Edmonton Journal (“Politicians stumbled into trap,” August 23).
Campaign Life’s case, however proved well prepared. Jones, The Star and The Spectator alike were obliged to print counter-statements showing that their slights had been based on mistaken information. Jones followed up with another column in which he proved none too grateful for the corrections (“Fair Play Please on Abortion Questions,” Star, August 30.)
As for Ian Deans, Campaign Life issued a Press Release on Monday, August 21. It welcomed Mr. Dean’s rejection of this party’s policy but showed at the same time that Campaign Life’s original classification of Deans supporting party policy had been correct. By admission of the candidate’s own riding office, no evidence could be found to support Mr. Deans’ claim that his disagreement with party policy had been public knowledge prior to Campaign Life’s rating, which listed him as supporting party policy. The press release issued to all media, was heard for example, on radio stations in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The Winnipeg Sun of August 31 used it under the heading “Members defy NDP Line.” The Sun claimed that,
“Manitoba NDP candidates Bob Blaikie (Birdshill), Robert Johannson (Winnipeg-Assiniboine) and Laverne Lewycky (Dauphin-Swan River) also oppose abortion on “religious, moral and personal” considerations. Johannson and Blaikie are former United Church ministers.”
(NOTE: The Manitoba Alliance Against Abortion recognized Johannson and Lewycky as Pro-life, but not Blaikie. The first two went down to defeat on September 4. Blaikie was re-elected.)
The Sun article also revealed (again) that politicians are not easy to pin down. It reported the following,
“Rod Dickinson, Deans’ campaign manager, confirmed the pro-life letter saying Deans is “not speaking on behalf of the NDP. Those are his personal feelings. He’s not opposing NDP line (which favors abortion).”
Asked why Deans would make a public statement now, Dickinson said: “Deans has made similar statements in the past. There’s nothing new.”
Johannson, a United Church minister and a father of three, said: “I think abortion is a very divisive issue but we are not going to divide the party because of that. I’ve no problem following the party line although personally I’m opposed to it.”
Johannson said this is the first time he’s aware of Deans’ opposition to abortion.
Pinning down candidates on their views is not only difficult with members of the NDP. A brief note in The Toronto Star of August 30 reported that Joe Borowski had announced his support for Tory Bud Sherman, running against Axworthy in Winnipeg – Fort Garry as one who accepts “abortion only under extreme conditions.” (“Borowski backs Tory over stand on abortion.”) Yet the Winnipeg Free Press of September 1 revealed that Sherman was also being claimed by a pro-choice group… because he would allow abortions for women who had consulted with their doctors.” The story went on to say:
“Last night, Sherman said in an interview that while he is personally against abortion, he supports the existing Criminal Code provision which allows abortion when the health of the mother is in danger.
“I consider myself on the pro-life side of the spectrum. I believe that abortion violates the sanctity of life,” he said.
But he added that “in cases where the health or life of the mother are in danger, abortion may be necessary.”
He said he couldn’t say which group would like his views best. “They’ll have to decide that themselves.”
Another edition of the same newspaper quoted Bockstael (Lib., St. Boniface) saying he accepted the law as it stands. Yet, the Manitoba Pro-Life had listed him as favouring full legal protection for the unborn.
In Nova Scotia the abortion issue did not go unmentioned either. The following is taken from The Scotia Sun, August 22, in an article headed “Candidates debate abortion before big pro-life crowd. It reported the following about a meeting in Allan MacEachen’s old riding Cape Breton Highlands-Canso.
“The highly-controversial abortion issue, which has divided Canadians for years, was given a thorough discussion in Port Hawkesbury Sunday night.
When the two hours of sometimes emotional debate ended, resolution of the issue was no closer. But the more than 500 people who crowded into the Auditorium of the Straight Area Education-Recreation Centre got a clear idea of where the three candidates for Parliament from Cape Breton Highlands-Canso stand on the subject and rewarded them with a standing ovation.
The event was billed as a “Choose Life Rally: and the pro-life bias of the majority of the audience was reflected in their responses to the three candidates.
Conservative Lawrence O’Neill got strong support for this statement that he is “opposed to abortion on demand” because as a Catholic he considers human life sacred, he considers abortion as “destruction of unborn children and a violation of the fundamental right to life.”
Liberal Kenzie MacKinnon who also applauded when he told the audience:
“I’m personally opposed to the law being interpreted or amended to permit abortion on demand.”
NDP candidate Dan MacInnis got a cooler reception when he tried to sell his party’s pro-choice position…”
The Scotia Sun of August 22, covering the same meeting, reporter that “the atmosphere at the SAERC auditorium was intense, at times electric. The questions were tough and the answers were, for the most part, frank and well reasoned. The two hour meeting was thought-provoking and enlightening.” The meeting was reported also in the The Reporter of Hawkesbury, the Catholic weekly The Casket (Antigonish) and The Oran. On September 4 pro-life PC ‘Lawrence O’Neill succeeded Allan MacEachen (Lib) as the riding’s new MP.
By mid-August other events had helped to make the abortion issue steadily more prominent in the election campaign. NAC had held its much publicized TV debate on “women’s issues” on Wednesday evening, August 15. To the question whether he would end “discrimination” (Supposedly against women in rural areas and those of lower income) by freestanding abortion clinics, Prime Minister Turner answered in this manner,
“Well, Miss Watchel, I did have the responsibility for introducing the current law where a therapeutic abortion is permitted under prescribed conditions that the life or health of the mother is in danger. I analysed the situation we have had; it is fully set out in Hansard… in some details because of a deep personal problem it caused every member of the House of Commons. Living in a — on this question –polarized society, we have two views that are philosophically irreconcilable. We have the pro-choice on the one hand and we have the so-called pro-life on the other. There is no way that philosophically these two views can be reconciled. I felt and still feel that the best we can do in accommodating those two irreconcilable views as the present state of the law…”
He added: “I would urge the provinces as the administration of the law to ensure that it would equally apply across the country and (be) thoroughly applied.”
The activities of NAC helped to ensure that when newspapers made a final tally of the issue during the last days the election, a number listed abortion as one of the issues. The Toronto Star listed “Reproductive Choice” as one of the four major “Women’s issues: Why you should care,” (August 30). The Hamilton Spectator listed the leaders’ stand on abortion with “the nuclear question” “women’s issues” and “ethnic issues” as additional important issues (September 1).
In conclusion, let us mention two more items. In the Kingston – The Islands riding, nineteen-year-old Dan Eardley ran as an Independent pro-life candidate.
This decision meant extensive publicity for pro-life, with the Whig Standard running front-page stories twice, chiefly because the mayor of Kingston had become involved (August 14 and 16). Full page reports on all-candidates’ meetings featured the abortion issue prominently. On August 14 the paper printed a photograph of the defacing of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Vandals had spray-painted it with a direct reference to the fetus. The mayor’s office too, received a similar treatment.
When the non-activated Pro-Life Party of Canada received five minutes of political advertising-something which created another stir in the media.
Finally on a more optimistic note, mention should be made of the TV pro-life “commercials” produced by Gerretsen Productions. They were very attractive and very well done indeed. The three 30-second commercials were shown over 60 times on TV outlets in Hamilton, Toronto and Barrie regions of Southern Ontario.
Anthony Hawkins has been active in pro-life work since the early seventies.
Of the candidates listed in favor of protection for the unborn from conception onwards, the following were elected:
British Columbia…………………………….2 (PC)
Ontario……………………17 —- 16 (PC) & 1 (Lib.)
New Brunswick…………………..,………….1 (PC)
Nova Scotia……………………………………4 (PC)
Prince Edward Island………2 —- 1 (PC) & 1 (Lib.)
Newfoundland……………….2 —- 1 (PC) & 1 (Lib.)
Total: 42 pro-life members.
Those who have further information with regard to the pro-life results in this federal election may address correspondence to Anthony Hawkins, c/o The Interim.