The deal announced on Oct. 16, wherein the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties would work to merge and present a united right alternative – the Conservative Party of Canada – to the governing Liberals is both a concern and an opportunity.
It is a concern, in part, because listed among their 19 core principles is no mention of protection for innocent human life or for the traditional definition of marriage. There is, however, a troubling line about a commitment to a “socially progressive” agenda. What does that mean? No one knows – or at least, no one is willing to say. It can be said, however, that the phrase is amorphous enough to include support for same-sex “marriage” or abortion “rights.” This bears watching closely.
The new Conservative Party is also an opportunity, because if pro-life and pro-family voters inclined to support conservative parties take part in the democratic process of directing the party’s future, they may be able to influence the party to take seriously those issues they care deeply about: protection of the unborn, defence of the traditional family, reining in the activist courts and bringing transparency and accountability to Canada’s activities at the UN, to name just a few.
What is the likelihood that such a party will bring such issues to the table? None, if pro-life conservatives abandon ship. That much is guaranteed. This is not to say that becoming involved is a guarantee that our issues will be sufficiently addressed by the Conservative Party. Less than one day after the agreement was announced, some pundits were already saying that the party can only be viable if “social conservatives” are willing to “compromise.” This would be less offensive if it did not mean that social conservatives should just shut up, but too often that is what is meant by “compromise.” Pro-lifers, it is said, should support Party A because it presents itself as being less odious than Party B or C. But even Party A won’t pay even lip service to life and family issues.
Too many political strategists believe being pro-life is politically ruinous. It isn’t. Too many political pundits say the Canadian Alliance’s (and Reform’s) pro-life position cost it seats in Ontario. That is almost funny; neither party had a pro-life or anti-abortion platform (to our dismay), although there were indeed many pro-life candidates. In fact, both of the Canadian Alliance MPs elected in Ontario in 2000 are pro-life, proving pro-life is not a political albatross.
Too often, conservative parties take conservative voters for granted. But compromise does not involve one side giving up everything it believes is important. David Frum wrote in the National Post the day after the deal was announced that the Conservative Party of Canada should be … conservative. He said: “Don’t slight social conservatives. Or the economic conservatives. Or populist conservatives.” Forget the adjectives fiscal or social. Offer them all something. Ronald Reagan was a successful conservative politician because he was solidly conservative on all the issues: tax cutting; small government types found policies they liked; Cold Warriors worried about the Soviet Union saw a friend in Reagan; pro-life Americans knew that he was one of them. The new Conservative Party should be led by someone who offers something to all conservatives.
Of course, abortion is not a partisan issue. We hope that all parties will have pro-life planks and be led by pro-life leaders. It will be nice when the day arrives that pro-life Canadians can choose among a plethora of pro-life candidates on election day. Until that day arrives, The Interim urges its readers to become involved in the party of their choice, to move it toward a pro-life position by becoming involved in riding associations, candidate nominations, leadership races and the general election. At this time, there is a role to play in the founding of the new Conservative Party of Canada. We hope those inclined avail themselves of this historic opportunity.