(LifeSiteNews) — Regular readers of this column will know that I was decidedly ambivalent about Pierre Poilievre becoming leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Poilievre has consistently voted against all pro-life legislation (although he was pro-life when he was younger); he voted for the Liberal “conversion therapy ban” in both its iterations despite the fact that it is most invasive and deliberate attack on religious liberty in a generation; he openly campaigned on being pro-abortion, accusing Jean Charest in one leadership debate of not being pro-choice enoughfor voting for Bill C-43 in 1991. Poilievre styled himself the “freedom candidate,” but he was also pretty selective about who that freedom applied to.
But it is only fair to point out that a couple of months in, there have been a few encouraging developments. The first is Poilievre’s staff selections, including his appointment of Ben Woodfinden, a notable social conservative commentator, as director of communications. Woodfinden has been outspoken on the euthanasia issue and has defended an expansive approach to social conservatism in a number of national publications (see this National Post article titled “Why social conservatism is the only true conservatism.”) Poilievre also gave Leslyn Lewis, the social conservative leadership candidate, a spot in his shadow cabinet. That is encouraging.
Additionally, after remaining almost completely silent on Canada’s rapidly expanding euthanasia regime during the campaign, Poilievre has finally taken a public stance. In an official letter to Pastor David Cook, Poilievre wrote:
It is important that legislation addressing medically assisted dying is clear and includes necessary safeguards. I do not support expanding assisted suicide for minors or people who are unable to truly consent. Nor do I accept assisted suicide as a solution for mental illness.
My government will always promote and prioritize the health of Canadians across the country. We need to promote politics that prioritize compassionate palliative care, rather making medically assisted dying the only option.
It is an indication of how far we’ve fallen that this position is a significant one, but it is. If the expansion of Canada’s euthanasia regime is not stopped, anyone with suicidal ideation will soon be eligible. The inevitable result of that will be devastating.
Finally, Poilievre—along with nearly the entire Conservative caucus—voted in favor of Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block’s conscience rights bill, which would protect the rights of health care professionals to decline to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Liberals and the NDP, unfortunately, do not believe in conscience rights, and the bill was voted down by a margin of 203 to 115. But if the Conservatives win the next election and form a government, another conscience rights bill could be put forward. If Poilievre remains consistent in his support—which he has committed to—it would certainly pass and become law.
Like any sane social conservative, I am a political cynic. That said, I am encouraged thus far by Poilievre’s commitment to stand against the expansion of Canada’s euthanasia regime and his support for conscience rights. I hope these commitments are convictions and that he carries them forward into government should he become prime minister. If so, Canada certainly wouldn’t be the freest country in the word—but after seven years of Justin Trudeau’s devastating premiership, we would at least be better off.