OTTAWA, Aug. 5 ( – The Prime Minister’s recent Cabinet shuffle included the promotion to the inner circle of two Toronto-area women, Elinor Caplan and Maria Minna, whose histories do not reflect sympathy for the values of family and life. The specific postings they have received will limit their ability to use their positions to advance anti-family policy, but their general influence at the Cabinet table could be detrimental.

Ms. Caplan, who won her Thornhill seat in the 1997 election, was one of five female candidates parachuted into ridings by the Prime Minister to meet his own affirmative action goals. She came to Parliament from provincial politics where she held a number of posts under the former Liberal government, including that of Health Minister. While in the Ontario Legislature she developed a strong pro-abortion reputation, reports Campaign Life Coalition (CLC). In 1996, for example, she voted against Bill 91 which would have given parents at least the right to be advised that their children were seeking or being provided any medical treatment such as abortion or contraceptives.

One crucial family-related issue that Ms. Caplan will be dealing with in her position as head of the citizenship and immigration department, is legislation that will allow homosexuals to sponsor their same-sex partners into the country. Bill C-63 included such legislation in a form that compromised the legal definition of spouse and marriage.

Maria Minna, the MP for Beaches-East York, has been put in charge of International Co-operation.  She was a parachute candidate in the 1993 election. She is identified by CLC as pro-abortion.  According to a National Post biography on Wednesday, her history includes the Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), a powerful legal arm of the radical feminist movement.  During debate in 1996 on Bill C-33 which added “sexual orientation” to the federal human rights code as a category of person who cannot be discriminated against, she stood in support of the legislation, criticising those who talked about a “traditional family.” During her speech, she also praised South Africa for including “sexual orientation” protection in their post-apartheid constitution. Later she challenged critics: “I dare anyone in the House to tell me that being lesbian or gay is a matter of choice.” 

Also of concern to pro-family forces is the elevation of unflinching Ontario Liberal MP Jane Stewart to the $4.6 billion Human Resources portfolio which oversees government policy on children’s issues. The Liberals are expected by many to be preparing to make a “children’s agenda” a policy centrepiece with family advocates anticipating an agenda that further erodes parental rights. Such an approach is not expected to meet with resistance from Ms. Stewart.