Photo by Adam Scotti, obtained from the Flickr account of Justin Trudeau, under a Creative Commons license.

Stand on guard

One day before the annual March for Life, a pro-life event that drew an estimated 23,000 supporters to Parliament Hill in early May, the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party made it very clear where his party stands on the issue of abortion.

When it comes to selecting candidates for the 2015 federal election, only those supporting the party’s pro-choice position are eligible to gain the nomination.

“It’s not for any government to legislate what happens—what a woman chooses to do with her body, and that is the bottom line,” Justin Trudeau told the National Post. “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

He then clarified that during a screening process, potential nominees are asked about their stance on various issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Candidates who do not agree with the Liberal views will not be considered.

Ostensibly, if the Liberals end up with a good representation in the House of Commons, they could drive a very particular agenda that will shape our country’s moral landscape.

Screening applicants for federal party nominations is not a new concept. The screening process—the “Green Light Committee” in the Liberals case—ensures the party has people running who agree with their policies and platform.

And, one must remember that two years ago delegates at the Liberals 2012 national convention approved a resolution that endorses a woman’s right to choose an abortion, a position also held by the NDP. Trudeau isn’t breaking new ground here. The party has been, as he stated, “resolutely pro-choice” for some time already, even though there are a few within who remain true to their own pro-life views.

However, one must wonder why Trudeau would choose to make such a statement on the eve of the country’s largest pro-life march. His hard stance comes across as undemocratic, a breach of the freedoms the Charter protects. It smacks as a thinly disguised opportunity, off-the-cuff or not, to garner votes from a certain segment of society, piggy-backing on an event commemorating hundreds of thousands of innocent pre-born babies killed each year in Canada. And that’s not okay.

It seems a bit ironic then, that on the day after Trudeau’s remarks (and the same day as March for Life), he took part in the 49th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, where he read from the Bible, a passage on wisdom.

For all its irony, perhaps it is also apropos. For, as much as we disagree, even vehemently, with Trudeau’s tactics and the stance of his party on abortion, we do pray for wisdom. Politics is a tough, messy job, even for those with the very best intentions. All of our leaders are in urgent need of wisdom; we need to pray that God will speak to their hearts and minds, that they will make strong decisions for our country and the multitude of diverse individuals who live here. That they will respect life.

If the only thing we do is complain about the declining state of Canadian values and write off Justin Trudeau and his colleagues, nothing will change.

As people of faith, we need to stand up and be clear. Democracy means all of us—politicians included—are free to make a choice and to participate in the public square. We are free to stand up and be counted, to make our voices heard when it comes to protecting the pre-born and a myriad of other issues.

There’s a stanza of “O Canada” that we rarely sing, (and we’re no longer a “dominion”) but with the continued onslaught of these vexing issues, the following lines are worth consideration:

“Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better Day,
We ever stand on guard.
God keep our land, glorious and free
O, Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O, Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

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