Friday February 19, 2010

Ignatieff’s Abortion Push Hurting Liberals’ Catholic Vote: Catholic Leaders

By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, February 19, 2010 ( – Catholic leaders are warning that the Liberal Party could be in danger of losing Catholic votes in light of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s push for abortion in the Third World.

Ignatieff has called on the Conservative government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to include abortion and contraception in Harper’s new initiative to promote maternal and child health care as president of this year’s G8 summit.

But the Liberal proposal has sparked strong reprimands from prominent Canadian Catholic leaders.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Canada’s largest diocese, rebuked Ignatieff in a February 4th statement, saying his advocacy for abortion and contraception as “fundamental elements” in maternal and child health care is “astonishing.”

“When there are so many obvious practical steps that can be taken to promote maternal and child health throughout the world,” he wrote, “it is sad to see Mr. Ignatieff introduce into the discussion this negative proposal, which in no way serves to improve the health of mothers or children, but which rather imperils the most vulnerable among us.”

“Even those who think that abortion should be allowed do not, however, propose it as a positive contribution to the good of society,” he wrote.

At the same time, criticism of Ignatieff from Canada’s largest Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Register, was so potent that it even drew the attention of the CBC, which published an article yesterday entitled “Catholic Register takes on Ignatieff.” The Catholic national weekly paper’s February 5th edition ran with a cover page featuring a large picture of Ignatieff backdropped by poor African children, with the large headline “Ignatieff urges abortion for world’s poor.”

“As headlines go, most political leaders would probably prefer to avoid one like this,” writes CBC reporter Neil Morrison.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary also strongly denounced Ignatieff’s proposal in an interview earlier this month with the National Post. “I thought it was pathetic for a political leader to suggest that abortion is somehow tied to the health of women and children,” he said. “It was a particularly crass remark in light of all the orphaned children we now see in Haiti.”

“It was absolutely incredible that he would say that and he is alienating religious people with these comments,” he continued. “This will not win him votes.”

There is evidence that the Catholic vote is key to the Liberal Party’s election success; there is also evidence that Ignatieff’s radical abortion advocacy could endanger the party’s Catholic vote.

In a May 2009 paper, a group of Canadian political scientists analyzed the Liberals fall from power over the course of the 2000 to 2008 federal elections. They found that the two “critical ingredient[s]” of their 2000 majority win were the support from Catholics and visible minorities. But the number of Catholics supporting the Liberal Party dropped from 54% in 2000 to 30% in 2008, while support for the Conservatives grew to 40% in 2008. Additionally, the authors found that in 2006 “views about abortion” had “a significant effect on the probability that a Catholic vote would vote Liberal.”

“Catholics and minority voters have been the twin pillars of Liberal dominance, but their support is clearly crumbling,” the report stated. “[The Liberals] have to go back to basics and rebuild their partisan base.”

Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Canada’s Catholic Insight magazine, pointed out that this is the second time Ignatieff has “called for the killing of unborn children.” He said that the first time was in May 2009, when Ignatieff said “it is the longstanding view of the Liberal Party of Canada that women must have the right to choose.”

Fr. de Valk also warned that Ignatieff could be costing the Liberal Party Catholic votes. He called on Liberal MPs to reject Ignatieff’s claim to speak for the party, stating, “If his claim stands, many Catholics and other pro-life Canadians will not vote Liberal in a coming election.”

Contact Information:

The Hon. Michael Ignatieff

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Phone: (613) 995-9364

Fax: (613) 992-5880

E-mail: [email protected]

See related coverage:

Liberal MP Reproaches Conservatives for Keeping Abortion Out of Maternal Health Initiative

Abortion Not Part of Harper’s Maternal Health Initiative: Conservative MP

Canadian PM Calls for G8 to Tackle Maternal Mortality – Abortion Push Feared

Liberal Party of Canada Demands Abortion Push in Maternal Health Initiative

Canadian Liberal Leader Ignatieff Slammed as “Extreme” and “Divisive” on Abortion

Toronto Archbishop Slams “Sad” and “Negative” Proposal by Liberal Leader Ignatieff

Study Finds Canadian Catholic Vote Made Major Difference in Liberal Defeat


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