By Patrick B. Craine
GUELPH, Ontario, November 5, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Canadian Member of Parliament Gus Mitges, who stood as a strong pro-life voice in Canada's Parliament for over two decades, passed away on Sunday at age 90.
“He was a great guy, very pro-life,” commented Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition. He said he had met Mitges many times, and even happened upon him in Florida once. “He was trying to rest a bit, and I walked in and he said …'Don't tell me you followed me here!'”
Mitges, who moved from Greece when he was six, grew up in Guelph, where he became a veterinarian. After serving on the school board and in municipal politics in the 1960s, he won in the 1972 federal election for the Progressive Conservative Party in Grey-Simcoe. He later represented the Bruce-Grey riding after a riding adjustment, until he retired in 1993 due to health problems.
A 1987 profile on Mitges in Canada's pro-life newspaper, The Interim, said of him: “Dr. Mitges asserts that he has always abhorred abortion and believes it to be murder. He believes that life begins at conception and therefore should be given every opportunity to survive until natural death. For Dr. Mitges, this is not a matter of religious doctrine but of basic human rights.”
In 1981, Mitges was one of a few MPs who voted against Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it did not include explicit protections for the unborn. The Charter was later used as justification to abolish Canada's abortion law in the 1988 Morgentaler decision, and then again in 2005 when same-sex 'marriage' was legalized.
Mitges presented a motion in 1986 to amend the Charter to include unborn persons, which would have afforded them total protection under the law. While most speakers in the debate defended the unborn, the motion lost the vote 62-89 on June 2, 1987.
Following the 1988 Morgentaler decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which struck down Canada's abortion law and created a legal vacuum, Brian Mulroney's government proposed a new law that would have, in effect, legislated abortion-on-demand. Numerous amendments to the government's motion were proposed, including one by Mitges, which sought to establish legal protections from conception. The government motion and five amendments were brought to a vote, with Mitges' as the only pro-life option, but they all failed, as well as the government's motion.
While the other, pro-abortion options lost overwhelmingly, Mitges' pro-life amendment was shockingly close to succeeding – with 105 in favour and 118 opposed.
Hughes says that at a national pro-life conference in 1992, Mitges got a “standing ovation” from the 1,200 attendees. “It was terrific,” Hughes said.
“He wasn't afraid,” Hughes continued, commenting on the relative success of Mitges' efforts in nearly winning legal protection for the unborn. “When you're not afraid, you can do anything.”
Mitges was married to Yolanda (Odorico) and had previously lost his first wife, Velma (Martin). He had four children and two step-children.