By Mark Penninga
Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament means the first session of the 41st Parliament will end this fall. We are about half way to the next forecasted election date (October 19, 2015). This is a good point to pause and consider the plight of Canada’s pre-born children in Canadian law.
The first session saw the introduction of two motions that put the spotlight on the pre-born: M-312 by MP Stephen Woodworth and M-408 by MP Mark Warawa. Both motions were designed so that the vast majority of MPs could have easily supported them. Yet M-312 was voted down and M-408 was declared non-votable. Where does that leave us now? We are going into a new session of Parliament with no pro-life legislation on the table and a Prime Minister that seems to have succeeded in his strong arm tactics to ensure that “his government will not reopen the issue.”
This is the point where we may be tempted to grumble, move on to other issues, or give up on politics completely.
Let’s not be so short-sighted!
The cause of pre-born justice has advanced more in the past two years than the entire decade before it. As I argued before, although we saw defeats in the votes, there were far greater victories beneath the surface. The tide has changed. What was considered a settled issue not long ago is anything but. The media and a majority of Canadians are starting to get it. It is Parliament that is holding things up.
Although we would love to see Parliament at the forefront of positive change, we should know better. The sad reality of politics in a secular nation is that the Overton Window has to advance to the point where an issue becomes so popular that a politician decides it is advantageous to their cause to jump on the band wagon and support it. Although we have a ways to go yet, we are certainly headed in that direction.
What this all means is that we should not define success simply by whether a bill is in Parliament or is passed by Parliament.
Perhaps an analogy will help explain this.
A crop farmer has the goal of harvesting a bountiful crop. But his or her work is not limited to the few days of the year where the crops are taken in. The work starts much earlier, when the land has to be cleared, the fields cultivated, the seeds planted, the crops fertilized and the weeds suppressed. A farmer who shows up to work at harvest time will surely be disappointed. The work has to be done well in advance. And even then it is not in his control. He can work hard but he has to rely on God for the rain, sun, and health.
Pro-lifers who show up just when legislation is in Parliament will also be disappointed. Most of the work is done far in advance. It involves knowing the land (analyzing where society is at, finding politicians who are open to taking up the issue etc.), fertilizing it (explaining to our society, not just pro-lifers, why the status-quo on abortion is wrong), combating the weeds (challenging the pro-abortion rhetoric in media, the arts, and anywhere it appears) and recognizing that success will depend on whether God softens hearts.
It is also important to keep in mind that we are called to be prudent. We have to know the ground we are working with, and only plant seeds that are suitable for the land. Don’t plant corn in Whitehorse. The goals we set should be realistic. As with every other issue in public policy, change happens incrementally. We work with the support that already exists and then seek to build on it. Putting forward pro-life legislation that doesn’t protect every pre-born child is not compromise. It is a recognition that we are working in a sin-filled world. We can restrict evil but we can’t eradicate it. Politics is not the answer to abortion. Christ is. The law is a tool that we are called to use to suppress evil while we are on this earth.
The point of all this is that if we choose to grumble and jump ship when we see Parliament chicken out then we are no different than the politicians who wait for an issue to be popular before they champion it. Our job is not to be popular, politically correct, or in the spotlight. We are called to work in the field we have been placed in. It will take hard work and persistence.
God has given us our current Prime Minister and Parliament (see Romans 13). God has put us in a nation that has embraced individual autonomy over corporate responsibility. We can’t change these things. But God has also given us opportunities to advance justice in the midst of this society. We can plant, fertilize, water, and weed. Are we going to seize these opportunities?
Here are some specific suggestions for how to advance the pro-life cause in the second session of the 41st Parliament:
- Pray. We can do all the planting and watering we like but it is up to God whether a seed will grow.
- If you are a member of the Conservative Party, attend their policy convention October 31-November 2. Use the networking opportunities there to promote the WeNeedaLAW.ca campaign. The campaign will be happy to give you printed resources to distribute.
- If you are a member of a different political party, raise this issue at your local EDA meeting. Use the WeNeedaLAW.ca talking points to press the other members to take action.
- If you are not a member of a political party, consider becoming one. Even better, get on the board of your local EDA. You can have a big hand in determining who runs as a candidate for your party in the next election.
- New ridings are being created as we speak and nominations will be held for each of these ridings. Now is the time to get involved in the process and ensure pro-life candidates are on the ballot.
- Meet with your local MP. Ask him or her where they stand on the issue. I find it baffling that so many pro-life Canadians talk about the issue but never sit down with the person that can do something about it. It is always worth it!
- You can find suggestions for meeting with a MP, as well as talking points, here.
- If they are pro-life, ask them what they plan to do to translate that into justice for the pre-born. If they cop out by saying there is nothing they can do, challenge them on this. Let them know that WeNeedaLAW.ca’s staff has the expertise to help them with drafting legislation. Ask if they are working with the pro-life caucus to pursue the opportunities that exist.
- If they aren’t pro-life, educate them. Explain to them the talking points of the WeNeedaLaw.ca campaign.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper to keep the issue alive. The media have been very willing to cover abortion in the past two years. Seize the opportunity! Find helpful letter writing tips here.
- Educate the public. If each pro-life Canadian can open the eyes of one other Canadian this country will be strongly pro-life. Start the conversation by:
- Putting a WeNeedaLAW.ca bumper sticker on your car, lawn sign at the road, or book bag on your shoulder.
- Printing hundreds of WeNeedaLAW.ca infographics and distributing them in your school, workplace, and community.
- Simply starting the conversation and bringing the issue up with those whom God has put around you.
- Support the WeNeedaLAW.ca campaign so that it can advance this cause both in the public and behind the scenes full-time and with a growing team:
- Financially support it and/or encourage others to do the same
- Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, email, or word of mouth
- Send a kind word of encouragement to the campaign director J firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer your services if you have any expertise that can be of assistance – film making, graphic design, writing, fundraising, etc.
Before the day is over, please do at least one of these things!
In the coming years we hope to see legislatures and Parliament pass laws that protect pre-born children. But God has not put us at that point in time. He put us here and now.
So let’s get farming!