I’m well aware that by the time you read this, the Ontario election may have already passed. If that is the case, then, if you live in Ontario, you have the next four years or so to mull over these words. With the dropping of Tanya Granic Allen as a Progressive Conservative candidate, though, I just couldn’t resist the urge to say something, even if that something came too late.
I think social conservatives in Ontario are still so sore from what I’ll call the “Patrick Brown experience,” that when Doug Ford kicked Granic Allen out, we assumed this was just round two of the beatdown. The worst part about it is how unexpected it was for most of us. While I doubt Ford is the next Brown – knock on wood – one cannot deny the sense of déjà vu, especially because this pattern of politicians on the right relying on pro-life and pro-family voters for victory but subsequently snubbing them didn’t actually begin with Brown, though it did significantly worsen under him.
Do you remember the Liberals’/ the mainstream media’s scare-mongering about Stephen Harper’s hidden anti-abortion agenda? Well, I know many pro-lifers who shared this belief and still praise Harper today, even though he repeatedly insisted that the abortion debate was closed, constrained the efforts of pro-life backbenchers, and voted against both Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312 and Roxanne’s Law, which would have outlawed coerced abortions.
Big-C Conservatives have, for years, taken the support of social conservatives for granted, and done little to nothing for us in return, and, of course, the shutting out of pro-life candidates in the Liberal and NDP parties has made this situation even sorrier.
I know, I know, many of you view voting as choosing the lesser of evils. My dad often likes to repeat the phrase: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” But should it? I mean, should one not be a little more restrictive in regards to who is let into one’s bed? Shouldn’t one have higher standards for bedfellows?
I’m being facetious, yes, and it’s not my intention in this column to tell you how to vote (although I certainly have many ideas about how you shouldn’t vote). I do wish that we would critically reflect on our voting philosophy, though – that we would consider questions like, “What would a party/candidate have to do to lose my support?” to, rather, “What does a party/candidate need to do to gain my support?” and “To what extent, if any, does the preventing of greater evils justify the supporting of lesser evils?” We ought to wonder how long social conservatives will be courted during campaigns only to be belittled afterwards, and what our vote communicates.
Of course, having a pro-life candidate in your riding makes this reflection process somewhat easier (though that is not to say being pro-life is the only criterion that matters – a point I intend to elaborate on in a future column), but many potential voters don’t have that privilege. At the time of my writing this, I expect to be one of them.
The situation is not as dire as it would have been with Brown as leader of the PCs, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking of Ford as our saviour. Granic Allen was just one candidate, but she was ourcandidate, and so naturally we feel betrayed. Ford’s unwillingness to withstand the backlash to Granic Allen’s social conservative views is worrisome to say the least. Can we trust him to weather the inevitable criticism from the left if he acts on social issues in the future? Will he even be bold enough to do so?
Perhaps when you read this column Ford will have won the election already (I don’t know – my track record isn’t very good when it comes to predicting election outcomes) and perhaps he’s already following through on some of his promises to social conservatives. Or perhaps the NDP or – God forbid – the Liberals will have won and you all are pondering what you wouldn’t give to have Ford instead (in that case, I’m sure my argument will have little resonance). I only ask that you evaluate the price of your vote, for if you’re willing to sell it to anyone so long as they are better than the other guy, then we are on a sure race to the bottom. Please, of all the social movements, let it not be the pro-life and pro-family advocates who are known to be the people with low standards.