Canada’s new Conservative leader disappoints pro-lifers with cabinet picks
OTTAWA, September 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer has signaled “disrespect” to the party’s pro-life base by excluding his former leadership rival and outspoken pro-life MP Brad Trost from his shadow cabinet, says Campaign Life Coalition.
Trost finished fourth in the leadership race, proving that pro-life, pro-family advocates are a huge part of the Tory “big tent,” says Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Canada’s national pro-life political lobby group.
“The big story of the leadership convention was the influence of the social conservative vote, and it is they, more than any other constituency, who directed the outcome,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews.
“On the night Scheer was elected, everybody acknowledged that it was so-cons who were kingmakers, including the media and the [Maxime] Bernier and [Erin] O’Toole campaigns.”
Scheer, who announced his shadow cabinet last Wednesday, appointed Bernier as shadow minister for innovation, science and economic development, and O’Toole for foreign affairs.
Trost praised Scheer for “continuity” in his choice of portfolio critics.
The leader consulted him before finalizing his decision, and Trost gave Scheer “an absolutely free hand” and “unqualified support,” Trost told the National Post, adding he prefers to be free to comment on a number of portfolios.
Trost maintained that under Scheer, the Conservative Party will stick to past policy, including allowing MPs free votes on matters of conscience, the Post reported.
“There’s no expectation that we will veer sharply to the right on anything,” he said.
But pro-life Conservatives might take a different view of Trost’s exclusion from the shadow cabinet, says Fonseca.
“Respect for life is a pillar of any true conservative movement, and we should all expect that a self-described ‘pro-life’ party leader will appoint pro-life conservatives to positions of influence,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“I would not blame pro-life/family voters for perceiving this as the new leader distancing himself from the so-con base of the party. That large constituency of the membership ought to let him know they are not at all happy about this decision.”
However, Fonseca acknowledged Campaign Life identifies 10, or just under a third, of the 35 shadow ministers as solidly pro-life (see below).
These include James Bezan as shadow minister for national defense, Kelly Block for transport, Pierre Poilievre for finance, and Alex Nuttall in youth, sports and disabilities.
“We congratulate these pro-life MPs and hope they will have some opportunity in their roles as Official Opposition shadow ministers to advance respect for human life,” he said.
But Campaign Life “has to be clear we’re completely opposed to Scheer’s position he will not reopen the abortion debate when the Conservatives form government,” Fonseca said, adding this was the principal reason Campaign Life could not endorse Scheer’s leadership bid.
“That is tantamount to saying that a Conservative government has no intention of lifting a finger to defend the more than 100,000 pre-born children killed every year by the abortion industry,” he said.
Indeed, Alberta Conservative MP Rachel Harder reiterated the Conservative position when under fire from New Democrat status of women critic Sheila Malcolmson.
Malcolmson described Harder in the Post as “outspokenly anti-choice,” and blasted Scheer for appointing her as Tory shadow minister for status of women.
“As you know, it is the official policy of the Conservative party that a future Conservative government will not reopen the abortion debate,” Harder told the Post.
“It’s very disappointing to see Harder repeat that tired old mantra,” Fonseca said.
Campaign Life currently rates Harder with a yellow rather than a green light, which means a caution against regarding her as solidly pro-life.
Harder's yellow light rating is based on a newspaper report she told an all-candidates meeting before the October 2015 election that women should have access to abortion. Harder has not contacted Campaign Life to confirm or deny the accuracy of the report.
In 2015, Harder responded to Campaign Life’s questionnaire that she believed life begins at conception and would “strive to introduce and pass laws to protect unborn children from the time of conception.”
At the same time, Fonseca slammed NDP Malcolmson for attacking Harder for her pro-life views.
“Once again, the left has revealed that it isn’t pro-woman after all. It’s just pro-abortion,” he observed.
“If they were really pro-woman, they’d respect the varied beliefs and opinions of all women, including women who respect the sanctity of human life.”
Fonseca also criticized Scheer for “very poor judgment” in appointing “pro-abortion, anti-traditional marriage” MP Peter Kent as shadow minister for ethics.
"A man who supports killing children in their mother’s womb shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of the ethics portfolio. A social conservative MP should definitely have been given that file,” Fonseca said.
Such an appointment is reminiscent of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who during his time in government appointed a “gaggle of liberals to the Supreme Court,” Fonseca said. These justices “voted unanimously in favour of granting doctors the power to kill their patients.”
Conservative shadow cabinet is as follows (pro-life in bold). To see all Campaign Life ratings, go here:
Ziad Aboultaif, AB, International Development
Dan Albas, BC, Small Business
Dean Allison, ON, International Trade
John Barlow, AB, Agriculture and Agri-Food (Associate)
Maxime Bernier, PQ, Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Luc Berthold, PQ, Agriculture and Agri-Food
James Bezan, MB, National Defence
Steven Blaney, PQ, Veterans Affairs
Kelly Block, SK, Transport
Michael Chong, ON, Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs
Tony Clement, ON, Public Services and Procurement
Gerard Deltell,PQ, Treasury Board
Todd Doherty, BC, Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Asia-Pacific Gateway
Ed Fast, BC, Environment and Climate Change
Marilyn Gladu, ON, Health
Rachael Harder, AB, Status of Women
Matt Jeneroux, AB, Science
Pat Kelly, AB, National Revenue
Peter Kent, ON, Ethics
Cathy McLeod, BC, Crown-Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Indigenous Services, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Rob Moore, former MP from NB, Atlantic Issues and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Rob Nicholson, ON, Justice
Alexander Nuttall, ON, Youth, Sport and Persons with Disabilities
Erin O’Toole, ON, Foreign Affairs
Pierre Paul-Hus, PQ, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Pierre Poilievre, ON, Finance and National Capital Commission
Alain Rayes, PQ, Intergovernmental Affairs
Scott Reid, ON, Democratic Institutions
Michelle Rempel, AB, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Bob Saroya, ON, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (Associate)
Shannon Stubbs, AB, Natural Resources
Peter Van Loan, ON, Canadian Heritage and National Historic Sites
Karen Vecchio, ON, Families, Children and Social Development
Dianne Watts, BC, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour,
Alice Wong, BC, Seniors