In one weekend in mid-March, three veteran pro-life federal politicians announced the would not run for re-election, two of them cabinet ministers.
On March 12 and 13, Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl, and John Cummins all announced that they would not run for re-election whenever it is held.
Day, president of the Treasury Board of Canada and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, announced that after 25 years in elected politics, he would not run in the next election. Day, who was an MLA in Alberta before entering federal politics in 2000 as a leadership candidate for the Canadian Alliance, has consistently stood up for life and family.
Day did things differently from other politicians. As a Pentecostal who served as a pastor in a Bentley, Alberta school, he did not campaign on Sundays, from when he ran as an MLA candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta in 1986 through his Canadian Alliance leadership races in 2000 and 2002.
When he ran for the Canadian Alliance leadership race in 2000, he won on the second ballot with the support of social conservatives by clearly articulating his pro-life and pro-marriage views. Socially conservative organizations such as Campaign Life Coalition and the Canadian Family Action Coalition encouraged supporters to join the party and back Day’s leadership bid. He won with nearly two-thirds of the votes against former Reform Party leader Preston Manning.
In the general election that year, then prime minister Jean Chretien implied Day’s pro-life stance was a threat to the Canadian polity?, saying the country had “social peace” on the issue of abortion.
In 2002, Day said e understood life began at conception and “that guides how I look at different issues.” During his time in Parliament, he voted for every pro-life initiative and against euthanasia and destructive human embryonic research and human cloning. He also voted against same-sex “marriage” and to re-open the debate three times in the House of Commons.
Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, said Day has earned his rest, but that the pro-life community will still miss his leadership and presence. “He was a leader who wasn’t afraid to stand up on moral issues,” she told The Interim. One MP who preferred not to be named told The Interim that Day is the only member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet who brings moral issues to the table during caucus meetings.
Strahl (Chilliwack–Fraser Canyon) and Cummins (Delta-Richmond East) were two of the last nine remaining original Reform MPs elected in 1993.
Strahl, like Day, was a part of cabinet, currently serving as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. He was formerly minister of agriculture and minister of Indian affairs and northern development. While introducing a pro-life petition in October 1994, Strahl said: “I and the petitioners are concerned that currently there is no abortion law in Canada. Together we call on the government to protect the weakest people in our society” Two years later he rose again in Parliament to declare: “in my own case, as a Christian, I believe that life is a gift of God… that is why all people are special and human life must be treated with special dignitiy.”
Douglas described Strahl as a good man, who voted and acted a perfect 12 for 12 on life and family issues since 2000.
While neither Day nor Strahl returned questionnaires during the 2008 election, Cummins has filled out and signed his questionnaire in all six federal election since 1993. Over his career, on 14 votes and actions rated by Campaign Life Coalition, from same-sex “marriage” to expressing outrage at awarding abortionist Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada, Cummins was a perfect 14 for 14.
In 2003, he rose on the floor of the House to express concern about C-13, the government’s reproductive technologies bill, saying “it is important to remember that scientific understanding does not render other forms of human understanding obsolete or irrelevant.” In 2005, he rose to speak against changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual partners.
Douglas said Cummins was “consistently pro-life since 1993” and that CLC would miss him.
Indeed, CLC will miss all three pro-life MPs. Douglas said, “It is a shame to lose three pro-life MPs at the same time, especially veteran pro-lifers from the same province.” She described their exit from federal politics– Cummins is rumoured to be interested in running for the leadership of the rejuvenated Conservative Party in B.C.— is a “big loss for the Conservative Party.” She wondered whether their leaving after five years in power under Stephen Harper’s leadership might augur a shift in future policy or whether it reflected a drift in the direction of the party behind the scenes.
She said the political wing of the pro-life movement has extra work now if it wants to improve on the approximately 100 pro-life MPs that currently sit in the House of Commons, with the need to ensure that candidates who oppose abortion, euthanasia and other degradations of human life replace Cummins, Day, and Strahl in their ridings.