For more than three decades, The Interim and Campaign Life Coalition have reminded readers and supporters of the responsibility of all citizens, but especially Christians, to prioritize life issues above all else when they vote. This is not to deny the importance of alleviating poverty, the ability of middle class couples to support their families, how to address crime, Canadian foreign policy, and numerous other issues. But it is to reinforce the uniqueness of abortion and euthanasia in the body politic: no other issue is by definition a matter of life and death.
At a time when politicians pretend that life issues are either settled or of no importance, it is that much more important that we, pro-lifers, take up the cause unabashedly. Indeed, as Fr. Alphonse de Valk, retired editor of Catholic Insight, reminded readers in an editorial in 2008, Christians have a special responsibility: “Christians have obligations above and beyond other voters. Why? Because they have received the Truth.”
We cannot turn our backs on the Truth – that life is a special gift from God and that no man, even if sanctioned by the state, is allowed to kill another.
There is no shortage of other moral issues: violence in society, spousal abuse, sexual promiscuity, the assault on the family and religion, poverty, prostitution, pornography, and drugs. We are called to offer our voice on all these. But regardless of the damage done to the bodies and souls of those trapped by such affliction such as drugs or poverty, none compares to the murder of the preborn through abortion and medical research, and the vulnerable through euthanasia and assisted-suicide. Our culture is truly decadent, a Culture of Death that finds solutions in the taking of human life. This must end. And we must end it.
In the name of human rights, pluralism, and secularism, these assaults on human dignity are supposedly justified. They also justify silencing the Judeo-Christian worldview, and we cannot cooperate with our self-silencing.
Christians understand that voting is a right, but also a moral act. We are called to act morally while exercising this precious right. As Fr. de Valk wrote seven years ago: “The first principle is that to be pro-abortion disqualifies a candidate from office. He/she is simply unsuited to hold office. Their thinking is awry. Because of this defect, they get everything else wrong as well.”
For those lucky enough to live in a riding where there is a pro-life candidate, this choice is therefore easy. We must put aside other considerations and vote for the pro-life candidate because Christians who cast a vote for a politician who supports abortion commits a moral evil, if a moral candidate is available. There are about 120 pro-life Conservative, Christian Heritage Party, and independent candidates as identified by CLC (see the voter’s guide on pages 8-9 of this edition). But what about voters in the other 200 ridings?
It is shameful that the NDP has long promoted abortion and demanded that all its candidates take that position. It is tragic that the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau has abandoned its Big Tent approach to moral issues, and banned pro-lifers from being candidates. Under Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party has sought to avoid the issue of abortion, and the Prime Minister’s Office and party officials have made life difficult for pro-life MPs and candidates.
What are pro-life voters to do where there are no pro-life candidates if supporting pro-abortion candidates and their aims is incompatible with the Christian faith? This is a prudential judgement and we offer some words of advice, acknowledging that there is no perfect answer. The pro-life Christian must bring a correct conscience to the serious consideration of this question when we face the choice of unacceptable candidates.
Fr. de Valk’s advice was to “vote for a candidate who is not totally acceptable in order to defeat one who poses an even greater threat to human life and dignity.” That means voting for a candidate who has exceptions to their pro-life stance or who is not pro-life but has supported good legislation, or if the candidate is terrible on abortion but good on euthanasia. It might be necessary to go down the list of issues to find a suitable candidate or perhaps even consider the party; it is possible that the NDP and Liberals would promote a pro-abortion and anti-family agenda – for example, adding abortion to international maternal health programs. (For all that Harper has done to scuttle any debate about abortion in Parliament, he repeatedly resisted pressure from the NDP and Liberals to include abortion in his maternal health initiative; he allows pro-life candidates to run for the party and allows conscience votes for his Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers).
The decision is easy where there is a pro-life candidate: vote pro-life. It is extremely vexing for pro-life voters where there are no pro-life candidates but we do not have the luxury of waiting for perfect candidates (we will continue working to find and elect pro-life candidates in the future) but for now many voters will be left deciding how to mitigate the evil of pro-abortion representation. We had approximately 100 MPs in the previous Parliament who might be considered pro-life. We cannot afford to lose ground, nor can Canada afford increasing the number of rabidly pro-abortion representatives in Parliament. On Oct. 19, vote pro-life, but if you do not have the privilege of that opportunity, then please pray that you make a prudential decision about how to best use your ballot. That means prioritizing life even when there is no pro-life candidate, an admittedly difficult decision.