11 Jan 2020 How should the pro-life movement approach the CPC leadership race?
Canadians are watching with a keen eye as candidates for leader of the Conservative Party declare their intentions. This includes pro-life Canadians who want to know what a future leader is willing to do about Canada’s complete lack of abortion restrictions.
Generally, it is assumed that this means they are carefully scrutinizing each leadership hopeful for whether they are “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, but the time has come for the pro-life movement to view things a bit differently.
What do we mean by that?
It means that we don’t necessarily need a leadership candidate to champion the issue, or even be identified as pro-life. Pro-lifers who are involved in the Conservative Party shouldn’t automatically dismiss a candidate who isn’t personally pro-life. Pro-life Conservatives should be less concerned about whether a future leader looks like them and more concerned about whether he or she realizes that pro-life conservatives make up an integral part of the party’s base.
The pro-life movement was instrumental in Andrew Scheer’s successful leadership bid, and has the potential to play a large part in the upcoming race. We are motivated, organized, and politically engaged. Through the work of organizations such as RightNow and Campaign Life Coalition the pro-life movement has become very efficient at nominating and electing candidates. A successful leadership candidate needs support from the pro-life movement. Pulling out tired lines like ‘not re-opening the debate’ or claiming that abortion is a ‘settled issue’ in Canada could be detrimental to a leadership campaign.
With Canada’s brokerage party system, the likelihood of a leader in a mainstream party who is willing to introduce abortion legislation is not very high. It’s understandable that a potential Prime Minister is not going to run on this issue. What we as the pro-life movement should be looking for is a leader who understands that the abortion debate is ongoing and who will allow individual MPs to introduce bills or motions that address the current legal void around abortion.
The Conservative Party of Canada has pro-life MPs, pro-life staffers, pro-life volunteers, pro-life members, and pro-life donors. Leadership hopefuls cannot ignore them if they want to unite the party or win the next election.