Jonathon van Maren

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"When I hear people pining for Stephen Harper, it concerns me. Because while I’m sorry Justin Trudeau won the election, I wasn’t particularly upset about the demise of Harper’s career."

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Don’t fool yourself: Stephen Harper was no friend of pro-lifers

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - For those of us who find the performance of Justin Trudeau and his legions of squealing fans rather embarrassing, the past few months have incurred quite a bit of eye-rolling. With that, naturally, has come nostalgia—already, memes featuring Stephen Harper and the slogan, “Miss me yet?” are circulating around social media. Trudeau’s insistence that Canada more or less vanished for ten years until he, the knight in shining armor, rode in to rescue it has also grated many Canadians who thought our country was doing just fine, thanks.

So this column may not be particularly welcome, but I need to remind my fellow social conservatives of something important: Stephen Harper was not our friend.

I respect many of his accomplishments immensely. His handling of the economy. His moral clarity on the ISIS threat. His firm approach to thugs like Vladimir Putin. His unwavering support of Israel. But on most issues important to social conservatives, Stephen Harper was mute, if not hostile.

Stephen Harper worked incessantly to keep pro-lifers in the Conservative tent, but off the Conservative platform. If he was, as legions of grassroots pro-lifers insisted on believing, a “secret” pro-lifer, his pro-life beliefs never manifested themselves, and according to his biographers, not even his staff knew about them.

Paul Martin and his hatchet-men would surely be amused to know that of everyone who bought fervently into the “Harper’s hidden so-con agenda” storyline, none latched on to the idea so firmly as pro-lifers themselves. I wrote an extensive essay detailing Harper’s hostility to the pro-life movement a couple of years ago, and was surprised by the number of social conservatives who insisted that Harper was on our side, simply because they wanted it to be true. Such voters are a politician’s fantasy. This fantasy persisted even when Harper worked behind the scenes to shut down MP Mark Warawa’s motion to condemn gendercide, denying the motion a vote in the House of Commons.

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One of the reasons I had hoped Stephen Harper might squeak out another minority government in 2015 was the spectre of a Trudeau government passing a new euthanasia law. A Conservative euthanasia bill, I hoped, would at least be somewhat better than whatever the Liberal Party, who openly backed euthanasia, would come up with. But it’s important to remember something: The Carter v Canada case that legalized euthanasia in Canada was a unanimous decision—all nine of the Supreme Court justices voted in favor of euthanasia. And six of those justices—Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Cromwell, Andromache Karakstansis, Michael J. Moldaver, Richard Wagner, and Clement Gascon, were Harper appointees.

If Harper and his team had harbored even the slightest concern over life and death issues like euthanasia, which they had to know would crop up in the Court sooner rather than later, they would have been far more attentive in their selection of justices. They were not. Euthanasia, at the end of the day, will not be inflicted on Canada by Justin Trudeau. It was inflicted on Canada by Stephen Harper’s Supreme Court.

Keep this in mind, as you watch judges rule against Christians across the country: Out of the 840 full-time federally appointed judges, Harper got to appoint some 600 of them. The Conservative Party had the opportunity to remake Canada’s judiciary. If Harper’s Supreme Court appointees are any indication, it won’t make much of a difference for social conservatives.

Don’t get me wrong. Justin Trudeau is much worse than Stephen Harper. Harper found social conservatives embarrassing, and their concerns irritating, but here and there, so-con members of his party managed to influence him. Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, will probably seek to expand government in ways dangerous to Christians who want to raise their children in peace. But let’s not let nostalgia cloud our memory so quickly—under Harper, all we could say was that things weren’t likely to get much worse. But then again, with abortion-on-demand funded by the government throughout all nine months of pregnancy, that wasn’t a particularly tall order.

When I hear people pining for Stephen Harper, it concerns me. Because while I’m sorry Justin Trudeau won the election, I wasn’t particularly upset about the demise of Harper’s career, considering the fact that he’d expended so much energy ensuring that people like me had no voice in the Conservative Party. And when the Conservative Party offers the voters another Stephen Harper, it seems as if social conservatives will again convince themselves that this leader is sympathetic to their cause, and trot obediently off the to the voting booth.

If Stephen Harper taught Tory leaders one thing, it is that you can openly announce that you have no intention of changing the status quo on abortion, and no intention of governing like a so-con, and the Christians will shake their heads and smile knowingly, convinced that you are lying. 

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

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