The Interim, Nov. 2000
The basic principle of pro-life voting is the following: being pro-abortion (or “pro-choice”) disqualifies a person for public office. This includes those who claim to be “personally opposed” to abortion, but are unwilling to do anything to stop it.
The right to life is the fundamental human right, on which every other right depends. It follows that no matter how attractive a particular candidate’s policies on other issues may be, if he is anti-life, he is unworthy of support.
Pro-lifers are often accused of being “single-issue” when it comes to voting. This is true, in a sense. If you believe that the killing of innocent human beings is gravely wrong, your conscience will not permit you to vote for someone who is pro-abortion – no matter what.
On the other hand, the “single-issue” accusation is quite false. Pro-lifers are concerned about a host of life issues which are distinct from abortion, like euthanasia and reproductive technologies – not to mention the spectrum of pro-family concerns which pro-lifers generally share.
It should also be noted that in fact most people become politically involved because of special concerns about particular issues. The GST, gun control, national unity, the free trade agreement – concerns about each of these issues have led individuals into politics, and have even led to the formation of new parties. Pro-lifers are by no means unique in this.
But in the end, it must be admitted that no issue comes close to being as important as the abortion issue. Some people say that other “social problems” are equally important; but how many of those problems involve the deliberate killing of well over 100,000 Canadians every year?
Sometimes it happens that there is more than one pro-life candidate in a riding. In such a situation, a pro-life voter should then consider other things: which candidate has the stronger pro-life record; which candidate is more likely to be elected; which candidate’s overall platform is more attractive; and which party is more worthy of support.
Often it happens that there is no pro-life candidate in a riding. In such a situation, a pro-life voter might choose to mark each of the spaces, or, if space permits, write, “No pro-life Liberal,” or “No pro-life Alliance candidate,” etc. (In other words, there is no pro-life candidate running for the party which that voter would otherwise support.)
This is not a waste of a vote. On the contrary, the party scrutinizers will take note if their candidates’ support for abortion has cost them votes. And since “spoiled ballots” are recorded by Elections Canada, this act of conscience is not merely private. But even if this were not so, however, voters should remember that the only “wasted” vote is the vote cast for a candidate which the voter does not truly support. Choosing the “lesser of two evils,” in other words, still leaves us with evil.
Whatever the situation, pro-lifers should go to the polls on Election Day. The absence of a pro-life candidate in a given riding is no reason to stay away.
A final note: Some pro-lifers might think that a candidate belonging to certain party is unworthy of support, even if that candidate has a solid pro-life record, because the party as a whole is anti-life. Well-deserved criticism of the Liberal or Tory records, for example, might lead people to dismiss individual candidates out of hand.
It is important to remember, however, that in the end, what matters is the position of the individual candidate. There are many genuinely pro-life politicians in anti-life parties who have had the courage to act according to their consciences, even when it has meant defying their parties and party leaders, and who have willingly suffered the consequences.
These individuals have done a great deal of good, by raising the level of debate in Parliament, and by setting an example of courage and integrity for those who are not as strong. They have also publicly drawn attention to dangerous legislation, which would otherwise have passed without controversy. There should be no question that these people are deserving of the continued support of pro-life voters, notwithstanding the policies and actions of their parties.