By John-Henry Westen

Stephen HarperMONTREAL, January 17, 2006 ( – Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has continued to bow to media and other pressures toÂsuppress social conservatives within his party. After the Globe and Mail featured abortionist Henry Morgentaler warning voters against the Conservatives, Harper went further than he ever has before in support of abortion. He vowed, similar to Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, to stifle debate on the issue if it is raised in Parliament.

“The Conservative government won’t be initiating or supporting abortion legislation, and I’ll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn’t come to a vote,” Harper told reporters in Quebec today, according to a CBC report.“I will use whatever influence I have to keep that off of the agenda, and I don’t see any likelihood of that in the next Parliament,” he said.

Harper’s newly hardened position unilaterally rejects and renders meaningless resolution P-90 which was passed by the party grassroots at last year’s Conservative policy convention.

That resolution, which supposedlyÂmarked the Conservatives as a democratic contrast to the Liberals, and which is official party policy, stated,Â

ÂA Conservative government will restore democratic accountability in the House of Commons by allowing free votes. A Conservative government will make all votes free, except for the budget and main estimates. On issues of moral conscience, such as abortion, the definition of marriage and euthanasia, the party acknowledges the diversity of deeply held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of Members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.

By blocking any opportunity, even on private members’ bills, to voteÂon the abortion issue, the supposed freedom of Conservatives to vote their conscience cannot even be exercised.

Social conservatives were already miffed at Harper for assigning them back of the bus status on same sex ‘marriage’ by revealing that he would not use the notwithstanding clause “on that issue” but leave its use open for other matters. (see coverage )

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition commented to about Harper’s remarks saying, “It appears that he intends to go back onÂhis promise to allow private members legislation to come before the house for a free vote. We were at least hoping for openness compared to the Liberals but it seems to be the same old, same old.”

Hughes added that thisÂnews about Harper “does, however,Âsupport our policyÂof urging Canadians to vote for pro-life candidates in all the parties. When there are a sufficient number of them in the House to support each other on theseÂissues, it will become harder for the leaders to ride rough shod over the MPs’ obligation to do what is right and best for Canada instead of what the leaders order them to do”.

In related news, the Conservatives will not even rule out continuing the Liberal government initiated move to force provinces to pay for abortions at private abortion centers, such as Morgentaler’sÂprivate abortuaries. The Telegraph Journal reports thatÂConservative Party health critic Steven Fletcher said he’d give an opinion on the matter the day after the election.