While all of the major Canadian parties are diligently avoiding any discussion of abortion in the lead-up to the October election for fear of political fallout, Canada’s minor parties are providing some voice for the issue.
The Christian Heritage Party is the only party that has an official, consistent pro-life policy.Recently the Libertarian Party of Canada (LBC) provided a copy of its soon-to-be released platform statement on abortion to the Western Standard blog. While the party cannot be considered to be pro-life, its statement makes overt overtures to pro-life voters, many of whom feel they have been ignored or abandoned by the Conservative government.
The LBC officially supports a woman’s “right” to access abortion but its platform on abortion is more restrictive that those of the major parties. In particular the LBC calls for an end to federal funding for abortions, and criticizes Prime Minister Stephen Harper for “refusing” to allow debate on abortion.
“Pro-life Canadians have been ignored and mistreated by the Harper Tories for too long,” reads the platform.
“Stephen Harper has refused to allow debate on abortion and has said that he will work against any move that would prevent federal healthcare funding from being spent by the provinces on abortion.”
The LBC platform criticizes the PM for his treatment of MP Ken Epp’s Unborn Victims of Crime Bill (C-484) that would make it a separate crime to kill or injure an unborn child in a violent attack on the mother. In late August Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson angered the bill’s supporters by introducing the government’s own, less potent version of the bill in a clear move to pull the rug out from under C-484.
Despite a clause in C-484 that says that the legislation will have no effect on abortion rights in Canada, some abortion extremists claimed that the bill would infringe upon abortion. Pro-life critics of the Conservative Party have charged that the Harper government introduced the rival bill in order to ensure that abortion will not be made an election issue.
Harper, says the LBC platform, “abandoned pro-life Conservative MP Ken Epp and his private members bill.”
The LBC platform also expresses its support for freedom of conscience on abortion, especially in the matter of abortion funding: “While the Libertarian Party supports safe, legal access to abortion, we also believe that the ‘freedom of conscience’ of those who oppose abortion must be respected. The Libertarian Party will defend ‘freedom of conscience’ and promote real choice by removing all federal government funding to the provinces for medically unnecessary abortions.”
The platform statement on abortion concludes: “The Supreme Court’s Morgentaler decision struck down Canada’s abortion law in 1988, but the decision of nine unelected judges should not permanently silence democratic debate on abortion in parliament.”
With the Conservative Party staunchly refusing to do anything to alter the status quo on abortion in Canada, or to even allow it to be discussed, the LBC’s platform is a clear attempt to woe disenchanted pro-life voters away from the Conservatives.
However, Andrea Mrozek with the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada expressed the feelings of many pro-life Canadians when she observed, “In Canada today, there is much shared ground between libertarians and conservatives. I could vote for a libertarian who would push for an end to abortion funding now, sure. Long term, however, I am not libertarian. It would be a marriage of convenience.”