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Doug Sharpe, founder of Canada Family Action (CFA).CFA

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(LifeSiteNews) — The Liberals’ recent announcement that they will increase access to abortion—to the tune of $3.5 million—is the latest in a string of events bringing life issues to the fore in Canada.

The announcement comes in the wake of a leaked draft ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that would remove federal protection for abortion and lead to the curtailing of legal abortion in roughly half the American states. Pete Baklinski, director of communications for the pro-life Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), told reporters on May 11, the day before the national March for Life in Ottawa, that the leaked document has made the issue of abortion “suddenly explode” in Canada.

Watching these events from the frontlines is Doug Sharpe, founder of Canada Family Action (CFA), a non-profit, non-partisan group that trains Christians to “advance their issues” into the public sphere.

While Sharpe does not welcome the Liberals’ announcement, he welcomes the timing.

“Whenever an announcement like this comes during a race [e.g. the current Conservative Party of Canada leadership race], it’s an opportunity for candidates to define themselves,” he said. “Some seize the opportunity, and some run from it.”

Sharpe added, “We must apply pressure so that the candidates do define themselves.”

Life issues now center stage

Many see the announcement as an attempt by the Liberals to discredit the Conservatives, who have long refused to touch the issue. The Liberals made the announcement hours before the CPC hosted their first leadership debate.

The elephant in the Conservative Party’s room for decades, life issues are suddenly taking center stage.

Early in the CPC leadership race, in a blogpost entitled, “No Hidden Agenda,” candidate Leslyn Lewis publicly shared her story and her policy to protect life. She writes, “I know exactly what it is like to be staring at the future you’ve worked so hard towards and suddenly finding out you’re pregnant.” She describes the pressure to abort her child, declaring, “Person after person told me I had to choose: my baby or my career.” Lewis writes that she is “grateful every day” that she kept and raised her daughter as she developed her law career.

In the blogpost, Lewis describes a four-point plan to protect preborn children; she also promises funding for pregnant women and new mothers. In a 2020 voter’s guide, CLC gave Lewis an “A” rating and described her as “outspoken and unapologetic on pro-life issues.”

“Everyone shocked” at euthanizing of mentally ill

Another wake-up call for Canadians on life issues has been the rise of euthanasia, says Jack Fonseca, director of political operations at CLC. The Liberals rapidly expanded its scope from the terminally ill to the chronically ill, then to the mentally ill and depressed, and are now considering extending it to children.

The government “raced ahead of public support” with its expansion of euthanasia, says Colin Postma, federal issues manager at the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), a grassroots political advocacy group. ARPA has launched a large-scale campaign, called “Care not Kill,” to inform Canadians that, starting in March 2023, the mentally ill and depressed will be in danger of euthanasia.

Public response to the campaign has been strong, says Postma: “Everyone is shocked.” Postma adds, “We need to support those in need, not give them an easy out.”

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada (EPCC), agrees, stating, “We need to care for people with special needs.”

Schadenberg is concerned not only for patients, but also for doctors: at the moment, doctors are required to refer patients to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)—even if to do so violates their conscience. Last fall, MP Kelly Block put forward a bill that would protect the conscience rights of doctors (Bill C-230). MPs are expected to vote on the bill on June 8.

The EPCC has launched two online petitions (against child euthanasia and in support of Bill C-230) and a postcard campaign: the coalition will send out free postcards to anyone who will sign them and send them to their MP this month. No postage is required. To date, 15,000 people have requested postcards.

“Everyone is really engaged right now,” says Schadenberg. Those willing to act can visit the EPCC website.

Leaders launch campaigns to give voters a voice

These issues regarding life–along with a new concern for freedom (of conscience, speech, religion, and medical choice), for parental rights, and for reduction of Canada’s trillion-dollar debt have prompted multiple campaigns to urge Canadians to join the Conservative Party—for even just a few months—to elect a pro-life leader to the party. CLC, CFA, EPCC, and 4 My Canada (4MC, founded by Faytene Grasseschi) are urging all like-minded Canadians and permanent residents 14 years and older to purchase a CPC membership for $15 before June 3 in order to vote for a pro-life leader.

“We are not telling people how to vote in the next general election,” notes Grasseschi. “We are simply urging them to have a voice now in who the CPC leader will be.”

Fonseca calls abortion a “disqualifying issue” for politicians, stating, “If a person supports child murder, he or she cannot govern the country.” He says Canada’s church leaders “must teach frequently and vociferously against the evil of abortion,” so that pro-lifers will make life the “top priority” in every political race.

“You cannot say, ‘Child murder is OK, we want the economic stuff,’” says Fonseca, adding that “a nation that murders children cannot be blessed by God,” so that, in a “long-term perspective,” pro-life policies “make sense all around.”

“Critical window of opportunity”

In the “critical window of opportunity” before June 3 (as Grasseschi calls it), pro-life leaders are working tirelessly to publicize key, little-known facts and to use new tools to galvanize pro-life voters into action.

This spring, Grasseschi discovered that, statistically, only 0.2 percent of Canadians vote for leaders of political parties. She also found out that, in the last CPC leadership race, only 149 more votes would have made Lewis the party leader.

Grasseschi immediately began a campaign, called Engage, to spread this information. 4MC began hosting free zoom presentations several times a day. This month, Grasseschi is traveling across Canada to bring her message in person to as many people as she can.

“Every vote counts,” says Grasseschi. It’s a truth she learned by experience: last fall, she lost the race to be the CPC candidate for the riding of St John-Rothesay by only 86 votes.

Grasseschi says the response to Engage has been “amazing.” She notes, “People are shocked when they see the numbers and realize how easy it is to make an impact.”

Some votes count for more than others

Grasseschi and Sharpe are also informing likeminded Canadians of another little-known fact about the CPC electoral process: in regions where there are fewer Conservative voters—such as the GTA, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada—votes by party members for a leader count for more than do the votes of party members in Conservative bastions such as Alberta.

Especially in the regions with few CPC voters, “people need to know the power of their vote,” states Grasseschi.

The 4MC website shows slides of electoral history for both the Liberal and Conservative parties. The slides show that the few Canadians (0.2 percent) who bothered to vote for a party leader are an “elite group” that can steer the nation. The site also includes a link to become a CPC member.

A new focus on the influence and interests of voters (rather than on candidates or parties) is also helping to mobilize Canadian Christians into action. Sharpe, a 20-year-veteran of coaching Christians in civic engagement, calls the CPC leadership race “an opportunity for Christians to advance their views into a party.”

Rather than “trying to win a political contest” or to promote a party, Sharpe says his goal is to “raise the effectiveness of citizens in all circumstances, including local governments, school boards, and all political parties.”

Sharpe is hosting daily zoom calls to train Christians to communicate their views and to “take hold of opportunities such as the CPC leadership race”—a project he has dubbed “Operation Red Flag.”

“Catalytic event”

Sharpe says interest in political action has never been higher: “When you show people that they can make a difference, and mix in a little persecution, we start seeing a real catalytic event happening.” Sharpe expects the momentum to continue: “Once you get the ball rolling, you can’t stop it.”

Christian pro-life, pro-family activists are hoping that new information and new tools—along with a growing desire among many Christians for protection of life, conscience rights, and religious and other freedoms—will motivate all pro-lifers to get CPC memberships before June 3 so they can influence the party.

If the campaigns are successful, Canada may soon see its first outspoken pro-life leader of a federal party.

Help Campaign Life Coalition continue their vital work: LifeFunder