In recent weeks, I have talked to dozens of people (many of them pro-life Conservatives) who are gloomy about the election results of June 28. In some ways, I don’t blame them. It was a long, uninspiring election campaign. There were politicians and media who used abortion as an ugly wedge issue, attempting to scare and divide Canadians. (Pro-life Liberals were especially unhappy with the way their leader injected the abortin issue into the campaign.) Some pro-life MPs were put on the hot-seat, criticized for speaking the truth.
Others I have talked to were more concerned about partisan issues, that their candidate didn’t win locally or the party they supported didn’t win as many seats as was hoped.
I understand all these concerns – and others. I’ve heard good arguments that noted while Stephen Harper is not a friend of the pro-life movement, he might have appointed better judges to the Supreme Court or defunded the Court Challenges Program, which helps activist groups promote a radical agenda. I’ve heard that Paul Martin might not be as pro-abortion as the campaign conducted in his name would seem to have suggested; that it was his handlers who overplayed the abortion card and that he was uncomfortable with the injection of social issues into the campaign.
It is easy to get down, to despair that the results weren’t somehow different. Indeed, one wishes that Parliament had a pro-life majority and that legislation could be passed later this year to finally protect the unborn.
But it is too easy to miss the forest for the trees. It is easy to forget that the number of pro-life MPs in this Parliament is greater than in the previous Parliament. Comparing the election results to the Campaign Life Coalition Voters’ Guide, which was based on information from the CLC candidates’ questionnaire and MPs’ voting records, we have determined that there are at least a dozen additional pro-life MPs. Even if that was it, this is great news – we are at least a dozen votes closer to victory on legislation protecting the dignity of every human life.
But it is likely that the dozen additional pro-life MPs are not the end of the good news. Unfortunately, during the campaign, we did not get information from all the candidates. But this sad fact of the campaign could be a blessing in disguise. Because not every candidate returns a questionnaire, there could be another 20 or 30 pro-life MPs. Anecdotally, we hear that there are at least a half-dozen new MPs who are pro-life, but for whatever reason did not fill out our questionnaire. You can be sure that CLC is going to be working with all the new MPs to inform them about life issues.
Furthermore, the CLC Voters’ Guide did not evaluate candidates in Quebec. It is quite possible, even reasonable, to expect, that is a number of yet-unidentified pro-life MPs from la belle province.
There is another positive from this campaign – the fact that the topic of abortion was mentioned frequently. Although the media brought up the word “abortion” (or as some euphemistically and erroneously call it, “choice”) while somehow avoiding any exploration of the issue, regular Canadians were once again thinking about abortion. While the party leaders avoided a real discussion of the issue, MPs were reporting that hundreds of potential voters raised the issue daily in each and every riding.
LifeSite and The Interim were, as always, influential instruments in the public square, and media-types and politicians looked to what the pro-life movement was saying about this election.
I’ve heard people complain that the July issue of The Interim, which celebrated the election results – the additional pro-life MPs – was guilty of viewing the world with rose-coloured glasses; that’s a first. What I think this newspaper did was accentuate the positive, to highlight the most important fact of this new Parliament: the additional pro-life MPs.
For more than two decades, CLC’s strategy has been to help elect pro-life MPs regardless of party, so that when there is a vote on an issue touching upon the sanctity of human life, we would have the votes to pass it. With the June 28 election, we are closer to that goal.Jim Hughes, a member of The Interim’s editorial advisory board, is national president of Campaign Life Coalition.