The Sarah Palin political phenomenon is spilling over the border and into Canada. Not because she hunts moose — a favorite pastime of many Canadians, the present author included — but because she offers principled leadership on life and family issues. In short, she inspires Canadians concerned with these issues to demand better from politicians.
Americans are not the only ones going to the polls this fall. In Canada, voters will elect a new government come Oct. 14. Yet, Catholics on this side of the border face a difficult choice: How to choose between five officially pro-abortion political parties?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of Canada’s ostensibly Conservative party, has proven a bitter disappointment to life and family voters. As party leader, he blocked a grassroots initiative to outlaw partial-birth abortion. As Canadian prime minister, Mr. Harper undermined a vote that would have reversed the previous Parliament’s decision to legalize so-called same-sex “marriage.”
The most telling disappointment concerns unborn victims of crime. Despite proclaiming himself a “law and order” politician, one seeking stiffer sentencing for violent criminals, Mr. Harper has thwarted proposed legislation from his own party that would punish those who do violence to pregnant women and their unborn children. He has done so twice.
Yet, Canadian family-values voters were prepared to vote for Mr. Harper, albeit grudgingly, if only because his competition advocates policies even more harmful to life, marriage and the family. For instance, during the last election, one high-ranking Liberal politician advocated compulsory state-run day care for preschoolers. Children as young as three would be ripped from the home without any input from parents. Few societies survive the onslaught of abortion and homosexuality. Fewer survive an ideology that sees motherhood as a problem to be remedied, rather than as a vocation from God.
This same party also opposed Conservative legislation raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, despite the inclusion of a “close in age” clause to prevent teenagers from being charged with statutory rape. It would be unfair to homosexuals who lack the wider dating pool of Canada’s heterosexual majority, the other parties argued. Thus, one’s electoral choices were limited to Laodiceans on the one hand, and the proponents of Sodom and Gomorrah on the other.
Sarah Palin has changed these low expectations. Pointing to the Alaskan governor, Canadians are starting to demand better from their politicians. A common refrain among family-values voters this side of the border: “Where’s our Sarah Palin?”
This very question was the title of a recent National Post editorial. For American readers: The National Post is one of Canada’s largest nation dailies. The Sept. 5 edition contained an editorial where Kelly McParland wrote: “In a more thoughtful age, feminists would have adopted [Sarah Palin] as a great success story. But because she fights on the wrong side of the culture wars — which is to say, the one that values unborn children and human freedom — today’s left calls her a ‘hillbilly’ and turns up its nose.”
However, Canadian pro-lifers are not turning up their noses. Emboldened by Palin’s appointment in the United States, Canadian pro-lifers are speaking out this election. One such example is my friend Suzanne Fortin, a pro-life political activist and the mother of a special-needs child. She has blogged extensively about how abortion threatens children like her own, demanding that Canada’s elected representatives show leadership in protecting our most vulnerable citizens.
Others have set up Facebook groups and Internet discussion boards to put life and family issues back on Canada’s political agenda. They are touting Sarah Palin as proof that these issues win votes when politicians stand on principle. They are also sharing stories of bearing pro-life testimony to politicians who phone their homes or show up at the doorsteps. The message of these grassroots Canadians is clear: The Americans have done it; why can’t we? If you want our vote, take our issues seriously. This means protecting life, marriage and family.
In an election as close as ours, only a few votes separate a minority government from a majority. Harper is desperate to win this majority. His opponents are similarly desperate — they wish to stop him and retain the balance of power. Thus, Canada’s family vote is critical this election. As much as the parties loathe giving voice to this vote, neither side wishes to yield these voters to the opponent. This can only encourage family voters to speak out more forcefully.
In the end, pro-life voters in Canada owe Sarah Palin a debt of gratitude. She has rejuvenated our enthusiasm, emboldened our voice, and reenergized our activism. But most importantly, she has restored our political dignity and self-esteem. We now know that we are not just a voice crying out in the wilderness — a political wilderness to which we have been banished. One who shares our values is mounting a credible challenge for the second-highest office of our neighboring country.
Author Pete Vere is a canon lawyer and journalist in Canada.