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Michael NormoreMichael Normore / Facebook

May 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – It is always amusing to me that Canadian left-wingers enjoy referring to Stephen Harper as an arch-conservative, a man so right-wing his very name is apparently supposed to send shivers down the progressive spine. In reality, his primary impact on the political landscape was one progressives should be thanking him for. It was Stephen Harper’s aggressive silencing of social conservatives and his repeated insistence that such issues are untouchable that has persuaded center-right parties across Canada that electoral victory is only possible when social conservatives—who have proven time and time again to be one of the most active and invested factions of the conservative coalition—are kept in the tent but off the platform.

As Pierre Lemieux’s leadership campaign proved, there are many social conservative policies that would enjoy broad support throughout the Canadian electorate. The vast majority of new Canadians are very socially conservative on issues like abortion, euthanasia, and parental rights, among others. The primary reason progressives don’t mind an enormous influx of people like these is because they know conservatives will not campaign in immigrant communities on these issues, and that a dozen years of public school will largely eliminate any socially conservative tendencies the parents have passed down to the children. In fact, a recent poll by Public Square Research with over 1,500 respondents found that Canada is a country that would be considerably more amenable to socially conservative policies than Harper and Trudeau would have us believe:

  • Only 2% of Canadians support sex-selection abortions (which are legal and usually target girl babies).
  • Only 8% of Canadians support late abortions after 6 months of pregnancy.
  • Only 16% (less than 2 in 10 Canadians) said all abortions are acceptable, no matter what the reason, which is the current policy in Canada.
  • Only 20% find abortion acceptable after 3 months, whereas the status quo allows abortion throughout all nine months.
  • Only 11% find abortion acceptable if the baby interferes with the woman’s future plans, but this is often the justification for abortion.
  • Only 4% find abortion acceptable when a woman has already had previous abortions.

But Canadian conservative politicians remain convinced that because Stephen Harper brought them power after decades in the political wilderness, any issue that might be controversial must be sacrificed on the altar of expediency with all of the requisite cowardice necessary to make this happen. Consider the particularly pathetic Tory leader of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ches Crosbie, who in the words of the CBC “says a candidate with staunch conservative views won’t be a member of his party after the May 16 election,” even if he gets elected. 

And why? The PC leader had asked candidate Michael Normore to keep quiet about his social views during the election, and Normore by all accounts did just that. When reporters brought up Normore’s pro-life and pro-marriage stances, Crosbie initially stated that “I think that he’s a fine candidate and will represent the constituents of that district on the issues that are truly important to them. The fact that he has conservative views on those issues…there are others like him out there, and since it’s a democracy, we have to respect that we have people representative of the full spectrum of opinion.” 

Despite these words, Crosbie’s political spine wilted immediately when he was presented with social media posts from 2015 that had Normore sharing articles from (such as this one here) and saying that he opposes abortion. These were from four years ago, and Crosbie already knew about Normore’s beliefs, but no matter. Normore was dropped from the PC slate, and Crosbie also hastened to release a statement ensuring voters that they held precisely the same views as their political opponents, lest anyone should think the election was about an actual choice: “The PC Party fully supports the right of a woman to autonomy over her body, same-sex couples, and the right of partners to marry without regard to gender or gender identity.” 

Screenshot of Michael Normore's Facebook share of LifeSite article.

Across the country, political leaders identifying as conservative seem more concerned about the journalists on Twitter, the hacks at the CBC, and proving that they are identical to the Liberals on social issues than they are about the views of their own voters—or hundreds of thousands of potential voters. The Harper Effect has both Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney, who are both staunch social conservatives, swearing up and down that they won’t act on their views. Doug Ford, who has spent his entire career conspicuously scorning the taste-makers of the Toronto Star, hastened to assure his frazzled progressive enemies that the PC MPPs who spoke at the Toronto March for Life did not speak for his party. And now Crosbie has just given every conservative in Newfoundland a good reason to stay at home, since he is certainly worthless to anyone actually holding conservative views.

Before the actual views of Canadians can be expressed in legislation, the Harper Effect will have to be broken. As long as politicians feel that their principles are the price they must pay for power, irrespective of what the polling data actually says about public opinion, social conservatives will be largely marginalized and repudiated. We must stop believing in the myth of Stephen Harper as a conservative titan, and start recognizing that his legacy was profoundly damaging to genuine Canadian conservatism.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews John Barros, a dedicated defender of the unborn who has prayed outside an abortion facility through the last nine years, in spite of suffering from cancer and a recent stroke, and helped saved thousands of lives. You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 


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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.