Campaign Life Coalition’s Ottawa office is always encouraged when it receives reports from “the field” about how pro-lifers have met their MPs to educate and encourage them to support pro-life measures in Parliament. CLC exists to encourage politicians to do the right thing on life issues, but it emphasizes that the best influence comes from a politician’s own constituents. It is an MP’s constituents who have the final say on whether he will win the next election or will be looking for new employment after losing to someone else.

CLC in Ottawa recently received an encouraging note from pro-lifers in the Peterborough, Ont., area about the apparent influence of their work with their MP, Liberal Peter Adams. They had given him a petition supporting adult stem cell research and opposing embryonic stem cell work to introduce in the House of Commons. He did so in a very positive way: his statement, now in the permanent record of the House of Commons, says in part that the petitioners “point out that it is unethical to harm or destroy some human beings in order to benefit others. The petitioners also point out that adult stem cell research holds enormous potential.”

London. Ont., area pro-lifers met with three different MPs last year: Joe Fontana, Roger Gallaway and Pat O’Brien. O’Brien is known for his pro-life views. Sometimes we think that we don’t need to trouble ourselves with politicians who already are pro-life, but this is not the case. These MPs face a lot of pressure to compromise on their life views, especially when the issue is in the political spotlight, so they appreciate the encouragement they receive from people who support them on life issues.

We also have to remember that politicians are swamped with work and information every day, so it is relatively easy for new developments on various issues to slip past them unnoticed. It is our responsibility to keep our own politicians educated on the issues that are important to us. It is tempting to think that their assistants will draw important issues to their attention. We have to realize that pro-life MPs do not see everything else in life in terms of its relation to the abortion issue and that even pro-life politicians have to address many other issues, so they may well not use an abortion-litmus test for hiring their staff. CLC has come across situations where pro-life MPs have said they aren’t receiving the organization’s material and the only explanation that makes sense is that a staff member, unsympathetic with the pro-life position, has been discarding the material instead of passing it on to his/her boss.

Late last year several pro-life constituents in the Ottawa area separately visited their MP, feminist Liberal backbencher Marlene Catterall. She gave them an audience, providing them the opportunity to educate her about stem cell research and the immorality of using embryos. Although she is not a convert to our side, she has the information necessary for making the right choice and so can be held accountable.

Early this year, pro-life constituents met Liberal backbencher Carmen Provenzano of Sault Ste Marie, Ont. Again the focus of discussion was stem cell research. He expressed appreciation at receiving the information they provided, but he also made a point that many politicians raise when meeting with pro-lifers and other social conservatives – when I did the right thing (this time in reference to an earlier House of Commons vote many months ago on the definition of marriage), did anyone thank me? When politicians are taken for granted, they often become fed up with doing the right thing. Although they may not do the wrong thing because of their own consciences, they may just not do anything at all.

For many years CLC has been asking people who meet with MPs, or those who have correspondence with them, to send reports of the meetings and copies of the letters to their office for their records. I know it takes a bit of time to do this, but the office often finds potentially useful information in these reports. It is also encouraging to those who work full time on the issues in Ottawa to see evidence of the diligence of the many pro-lifers across the country in their attempts to educate their politicians and to keep them accountable. This is good work you are doing. Let others know about it for the mutual edification it provides.