On July 8, a front-page National Post story reported that there was a leak from the first Conservative party caucus meeting since the election. It claimed that party leader Stephen Harper was vowing to move the party to “the centre.”

There are reasons to believe that the report is untrue. MPs to whom The Interim, LifeSite Daily News and Campaign Life Coalition have spoken say there was no resemblance between the caucus meeting they attended and the one reported in the Post. There are a number of theories about how this might have happened – that the leak never occurred, an MP or backroom strategist “leaked” the comments to journalists to put pressure on Harper to steer the party left or Harper’s office might have “leaked” the comments to justify a move to “the centre” or merely to appear to re-position the party.

Whether it really occurred the way the story reported, or whether someone wants to move the party to the left, the rationale for the change in orientation is based, at least in part, on the erroneous idea that holding or even discussing social issues will lose an election for a party. This old argument is impervious to facts that The Interim outlines in one of its cover stories this month.

To review: all but three pro-life MPs in both the Liberal and Conservative parties won re-election, and one of them lost to another pro-life candidate. The vast majority of pro-life MPs won re-election by a larger margin than they did in 2000. Both the Liberals and Conservatives have more identifiable pro-life MPs in English Canada than they did in the previous Parliament. The three “lightning rod” MPs for the Conservatives – the three who were attacked for their social conservatism (Cheryl Gallant, Rob Merrifield, Randy White) – crushed their political opponents and beat their combined vote totals. All this happened while abortion was, for at least a week and a half, the central topic of the campaign.

One Toronto-area candidate to whom The Interim talked in the first days of the campaign said he was asked about abortion nearly 100 times a day and said all the requests came from pro-life voters. Every MP The Interim talked to reported being asked about the issue repeatedly, as well as about same-sex “marriage.” Yet, the Globe and Mail, CBC and professional political operatives tell us that no one cares about the abortion issue, that we have – in Jean Chretien’s mistaken formulation – “social peace” on abortion.

Many voters do care about morality. Not as much as the pro-life movement would like, perhaps, but they are beginning to think about them again. We are convinced that Stephen Harper – and other politicians – missed the opportunity to campaign against re-defining marriage. While the media report the issue as if there was a consensus in favour of same-sex “marriage,” polls show the country evenly divided. In fact, one Gallup poll in 2003 found that those who oppose redefining marriage were more likely to vote on the issue than those who wanted “marriage” for gays.

But Harper wanted to appear moderate and thus utterly failed to reach out to voters, many of them ethnic, who traditionally support the Liberals.

What Canadians want, more than a mushy, ill-defined “moderate” approach to moral issues, is clarity on abortion, marriage and other issues affecting the social fabric of the country. Many candidates were clear on these issues and won. We hope that Harper does not take the party to “the centre” – if that means further silence on moral issues and the outright banishment of social conservatives – and that Paul Martin stops dragging his party down the road of pro-abortion extremism. We especially hope that pro-life MPs within both parties resist the pressure to buckle and find the courage to oppose the slide to the left on moral issues.

Instead of looking for votes in the political centre, it would be nice if the political parties found a moral centre.