Uncertainty reigned during heavy voting at the packed Oasis Convention Centre in Mississauga on March 11. Every parking spot for blocks around the centre was taken as a mass of over 1,800 voters flowed in and out of the building. At stake was the Liberal nomination for the riding of Mississauga South and the future political career of thrice-elected, pro-life, pro-family MP Paul Szabo.
Szabo has recently been one of the most outspoken Liberal MPs on life and family issues, and led the challenge within the Liberals to defeat, or at least substantially amend, the government’s deeply flawed Bill C-6, previously numbered C-13. For this, the principled member of Parliament incurred the wrath of some of his party’s establishment and was subjected to an unusual challenge to his re-nomination, using a political neophyte, Charles Sousa.
By the end of the evening, Szabo defeated challenger Sousa by a reasonably healthy margin, 966-838. The riding membership had grown from the original 500 to a final 3,400 members during the lead-up to the nomination. The Sousa campaign appeared to have suffered more than expected no-shows from among its instant membership sign-ups. Szabo, being the incumbent and a long-time Liberal party activist, was able to rely on a more committed voter base, which showed up and cast their ballots.
Sousa is believed to have the backig of Liberal party hacks known to have considerable animosity towards the MP. One Liberal party headquarters bureaucrat was overheard blurting out that Szabo’s win was “a disaster for the party,” whatever that could possibly have meant.
The Interim found a young Chinese couple with Szabo badges who said they supported the incumbent because of his stand on the same-sex “marriage” issue.
Szabo has been a reliable friend of life and the family within the Liberal caucus. In recent years, he has consistently opposed re-defining marriage to include homosexual couples. In 2003, he voted against C-250, a private member’s bill that would grant special rights to homosexuals under existing so-called hate crimes legislation. He also voted for M-83, a private member’s motion that asked Parliament to study whether abortion is, in fact, medically necessary.
He not only voted against C-13, the government’s reproductive and experimental technologies legislation, but he was also one of its most outspoken critics and offered numerous amendments to correct fundamental flaws in the bill. He was one of the few MPs to call health minister Anne McLellan to account on her claim that the bill banned human cloning noting the wording of the legislation allowed for loopholes.
For his courage in standing up for the unborn, Campaign Life Coalition awarded Szabo its 2003 Joseph P. Borowski award, given annually to the politician who shares its namesake’s commitment to standing up for the rights of the unborn.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once a rising star in the Liberal party, and a former deputy prime minister and cabinet minister under Jean Chretien, Sheila Copps lost the nomination battle for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. Copps’ riding had been amalgamated and she faced fellow Liberal MP Tony Valeri, a Paul Martin loyalist. On March 6, she lost by 311 votes out of a total 5,313 cast – 2,802-2,491.
In recent years, Copps has promoted same-sex “marriage,” despite warnings last summer from the Vatican and Canadian bishops that Catholic politicians cannot support re-defining marriage to include homosexual couples. Copps responded by saying that she didn’t think politicians should take marching orders from bishops, especially when such religious views do “not embrace equality.”
She has also said, “I can say unequivocally that I support gay marriage. Well, the right of same-sex couples to marry is a critical issue for me, because it is a fundamental issue of human rights.”
Last fall, she voted against an opposition measure that would have re-committed the government to the traditional definition of marriage.
Dr. Carmelo Scime, of Campaign Life Coalition Hamilton, told The Interim that Copps often parades her Catholicism at election time, but her position on life issues is contrary to Catholic teaching. When she replied to CLC election questionnaires, “she always opposed life,” Scime explained. “She has never supported life.”
Not only does Copps support abortion, she uses it as a wedge issue in elections. In 2000, she attacked the Canadian Alliance for supposedly wanting “to take away a woman’s right to choose.”
Last October, she voted for the government’s reproductive and experimental technologies legislation, Bill C-13.
Copps is not going quietly. She says that there were at least 15 different “irregularities” during the vote and has complained publicly about Martin’s heavy-handedness in trying to get rid of her. The two have shown no affection for one another since Copps refused to bow out of the Liberal party leadership race last year. Even the mainstream media recognize that this aggressive and brash former deputy prime minister is not likely to survive long in Martin’s Liberal party.
Scime said that if Copps is smart, she will “disappear quietly,” but that is not her style. He predicts that we haven’t seen the last of her, but adds that even the local NDP have soured on her – leaving Copps, for the moment, without a political home.
Elsie Wayne, a Canadian pro-life heroine, has announced that she will not seek re-election. Wayne, 73, has been a member of Parliament for Saint John since 1993 and is currently the deputy leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. But it is not in the rise to partisan prominence that she makes her mark, but rather as one of the boldest and most outspoken defenders of life and family in Parliament over the past decade.
She has been a fixture at the annual March for Life in Ottawa and is a past winner of the Joseph P. Borowski award, given annually by Campaign Life Coalition to the politician who has done the most on behalf of the unborn in the political arena. Furthermore, Wayne has represented the Progressive Conservatives as co-chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus since 1998.
Last year, she spoke out against the homosexual movement. “I must say that I never thought, when I came to the Hill in 1993, that I would ever have to rise in the House of Commons and debate the definition of marriage. I cannot believe that this is happening.” She added that she did not understand why homosexual activists flaunt their lifestyle choices in annual “gay pride” parades.
Days later, attending the March for Life, she received two standing ovations and a plaque in recognition of her integrity in standing up for traditional values. However, homosexual activists denounced her as a hatemonger and called for her to be booted from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
In the House, she spoke out against C-13, the government’s reproductive and experimental technologies bill. In an impassioned plea for the right to life for human embryos, she said: “Would anyone realistically say that it is okay to take the lives of innocent three-year-olds in the name of medical science? If it is brutal and barbaric to take the life of a little three-year-old, why do we, as a society and as a government, not say that it is just as brutal and barbaric to end the life of a healthy fetus in the mother’s womb?”
She also spoke out against re-defining marriage and attempts to liberalize Canada’s already-permissive child pornography laws. In one speech, she pointed to the young House pages and said: “We want to have a great country for them. We want to make sure that we have a solid foundation for their future, and a solid foundation for their future is to make sure that we stand up and we speak out for the values that are good for them for the rest of their lives. I will say right now that when I look at the definition of marriage being changed, that is not a solid foundation for the future of our children.”
Karen Murawsky, of Campaign Life Coalition’s public affairs office in Ottawa, told The Interim that Wayne has a “charisma and enthusiasm that nobody can match and people love her for that.” During the March for Life last year, Wayne got up and began dancing while David MacDonald was singing one of his pro-life songs for the 3,500-person crowd. The audience cheered wildly.