My editor’s desk column in the February issue provides a “social conservative assessment” of five years of the Harper Conservatives in power. Bottom line: a pass on social issues in general, but a fail on abortion. Yet even that assessment is grading on a curve:

Indeed, on most issues, the Conservative government has prevented a liberalizing or broadening of immorality and decadence. There is tremendous value in that, but it is insufficient considering how much damage socially liberal laws have done to the moral fabric of Canadian society.

Moral issues spur a lot of debate and emotion, but politically they are on the back-burner in Canada; even when they are being talked about, there is little policy put forward to address the problems and challenges, and considering the situation our society finds itself, this so-called neutrality is wrong because it permits the continuation of the disastrous status quo (abortion on demand, easy divorce, the widespread use of contraception, and gay marriage to name a few). Ending the Court Challenges Program so that special interest groups can’t make things worse by prodding activist courts to further break down moral barriers is a very good start and the Conservatives get all the credit in the world for canning the program, but it is far from sufficient to face the moral challenges with which Canada must deal.

My problem is not entirely with Stephen Harper or the Conservatives. In many ways the politicians don’t have to do much to get the pro-life and social conservative vote because the other political leaders and parties are absolutely terrible — to take just two examples from the past year, the Liberals and NDP have declared support for the addition transgender to human rights laws and backing abortion as an international right funded by Canadian foreign aid as core beliefs of their parties. It’s a Catch 22 for pro-lifers: back the far-from-perfect Stephen Harper and get taken advantage of politically and suffer numerous policy disappointments, or surrender government to the likes of stridently pro-abortion leaders such as Michael Ignatieff and his even more stridently pro-abortion coalition allies, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

Perhaps a civics lesson would help. We do not elect parties and we don’t elect the prime minister, but we do elect MPs. Pro-life voters must make their voting decisions largely based on candidates not party labels and leaders (although they, too, must be given some consideration), but prioritizing local candidates goes against how most people think about modern politics. Campaign Life Coalition does great work rating individual candidates and informing supporters and the public about their stand on life issues, but one wonders how many people really care what the local candidate believes when the news they consume is overwhelmed about stories about the party leaders and a handful of media-savvy or gaffe-prone politicians.

There are many pro-life MPs in the Conservative Party and a handful of Liberal ones that can be relied on to stand up for the unborn and protect the family; their records are much better than their leaders’/parties’ and if there are enough of them, eventually we should be able to pass some pro-life, pro-family legislation. Until then, it appears we have to settle for Stephen Harper and the very little he seems to want to do to address the threats against life and family.