Last fall some in the media thought it was unconscionable for ten members of the front benches to go against the Prime Minister’s directive and vote in favour of a motion that would have seen a parliamentary committee study the definition of a human being. Considering the hard-line stance Mr. Harper has taken in establishing himself as one of the most pro-abortion prime ministers this country has seen, it wasn’t surprising to see some in the media attempt to create controversy by exploiting the apparent divide between the PMO and his most trusted members of parliament. But alas, the actions of high profile ministers Jason Kenney, Rona Ambrose and others in voting for Motion 312 seem to have had little consequence.
This week’s cabinet shuffle has received much attention from the politicos and pundits. Most of the buzz has been centred on the fact that there are eight new faces in the cabinet including four women (bringing the total number of women to 12). But one curious and under-reported fact is that of the 39 Cabinet members, 12 are on record as voting in favour of the last piece of pro-life legislation presented in the House of Commons.
What are we to make of this?
Only a few short months ago we were lead to believe that there was a rift between pro-life MPs and the Prime Minister; now he increases the pro-life vote on his front bench. It certainly isn’t for lack of talent among the 163 members of his party that he was forced to choose individuals he was not comfortable with. Some may be inclined to dismiss this fact as purely incidental. Granted, it would be difficult to ascertain the exact reason for giving an increase in responsibility to MPs who are clearly not of the same mind as their boss when it comes to a legal recognition of the pre-born child. Yet one thing is clear – being pro-life does not affect your credibility with the man who calls the shots. This is significant! Many have been duped into believing that a pro-life vote is detrimental to promotion within the Harper government. The latest cabinet appointments prove that belief to be entirely fallacious and, in fact, it could be argued that the opposite is true.
Consider St. Catherines MP Rick Dykstra. Many pro-lifers worked hard on Dykstra’s campaign based on statements he initially made indicating he would support measures to introduce and pass laws protecting pre-born human rights. His voting record (he voted against the recent Motion 312 as well as Bill C-510, a bill designed to criminalized coerced abortion known as Roxanne’s Law) is disturbing as it shows he felt political expediency was more important than staying true to his word. Clearly it hasn’t worked out well for him if his aspirations included a cabinet position. Not only was he left out of the recent cabinet shuffle; he is facing a serious backlash in his riding for his abandonment of pre-born children.
Whether the recent increase in pro-life support on the front benches was done intentionally or not remains to be seen. Canada’s pro-life movement certainly isn’t holding their collective breath waiting for Mr. Harper to unglue himself from his position of never re-opening the abortion debate. With that having been said, all members of his caucus need to be encouraged to do what is right. Those candidates who state openly during campaigns that they are pro-life but then consistently vote pro-choice should be held to account for their deceptive tactics by the pro-lifers who worked tirelessly to have them elected.