My words were offensive to two people, at least and probably more and probably many, many more; I offended two people for whom I have the utmost respect. Their work in the past and present and what they will do in the years to come is immeasurable and at times, heroic. When I was living as a Catholic-in-name-only, they were fighting the battle. I did nothing to further the cause. I have offended them. It was out of ignorance, not out of malice and my opinion was ill-informed and I was wrong.
The whole gang at LifeSiteNews deserve our credit. While this was intended as a slight against LifeSiteNews or anyone there, certainly the good people there took offense, and rightly so; no doubt so have people at Campaign Life Coalition. I have been duly corrected and I am sorry for the offense which I caused.
It seems from the comments that I was not alone in ignorance of the history, particularly the betrayal by Canada's bishops.
With the permission of Steve Jalsevac, I am reprinting his emailed letter to me. It served as a wake-up call for me and for any in Canada that shared the same opinion, I hope it does for you too. Perhaps, as a few commenters indicated, Steve should write a book to document this pathetic history:
David, your evaluation of past pro-life efforts is distressingly uninformed. The view from the inside of Campaign Life Coalition and other groups is vastly different than the brutally harmful, inaccurate history that you present. The claim that the movement "has taken an "all or nothing" approach" generates a fury within me because some may actually believe that falsehood (I don't say it is intentional).
Unless you were right there with us you cannot understand all that was attempted and the devastating repeat betrayals, and destructive Catholic and other opposition and extreme disappointments that were experienced by the pro-life movement in this nation.
The situation in Canada is dramatically different politically, legally, religiously and culturally from the United States. So don't look to the US and say, if they did it there it should also have worked here. Some things did, but many did not simply because it was Canada. We have tried just about every US strategy and also developed our own unique approaches. As well, the US successes have been exaggerated. Sure they elected many pro-lifers and were thankfully able to pass a large amount of incremental legislation, but abortion is still very common in the US. Abortion stats are still huge every year. The culture of death is far from being ended, We are, however, much encouraged by the recent video exposes of Planned Parenthood and the strong pro-life calibre of many of the Republican leadership candidates.
Just try to get a Canadian pro-lifer nominated in Canada. The nomination wars are dirtier in Canada with the parties being tyrannical and blind to nomination rules when they have certain candidates that they want to be the nominee, which have never been pro-life. The Canadian political system is more amenable to tyrants than the US system with its stronger democratic traditions and checks and balances. However, freedom has deteriorated in the US under the Obama administration.
To state that incremental measures were not attempted betrays profound lack of awareness of what actually did take place. I myself was in a leadership position during attempts to gain some of the incremental advances (conscience legislation, defunding, parental rights) introduced. Exhausting work was put into consulting with MPs and MPPs and experts, preparing documents and legislative proposals and more, but with the mostly consistent result of the power elites ruthlessly shutting us down before we barely got to stage one or past the first vote. And of course you must be aware of Stephen Harper’s constant blocking of any chance of success of even the most reasonable incremental measures that the public overwhelmingly would support.
As you well know, there has been no religious leadership anywhere in Canada comparable to that in some quarters in the United States. In fact, terribly damaging, behind the scenes and also deliberate undermining of our efforts by Canadian bishops and the CCCB are one of the great scandals in the Church in Canada. The Catholic Church has far more influence in Canada than in the United States because Catholicism is the dominant Christian religion here.
As the result of a massive (that is no exaggeration), united effort by all the major pro-life organizations in Canada, we were extremely close to winning protection for the unborn in the Charter of rights. However, this was suddenly lost at the last minute because of Cardinal Carter's betrayal via a secret agreement with Pierre Trudeau that ensured public funding for Ontario Catholic Schools. We were devastated by Carter's betrayal. Grown leaders were in tears.
The omnibus bill that legalized abortion, divorce and more in Canada was quietly given approval to John Turner in a private meeting with the CCCB executive before the vote while the pro-life movement across the nation was vigorously opposing the bill. It was years before we learned of this betrayal.
The CCCB seriously undermined the huge, united effort of the entire Canadian pro-life movement to pass the motion proposed by MP Gus Mitges to amend the Charter to include the unborn, which had a good chance of succeeding.
The CCCB also actively undermined the efforts of the pro-life movement to defeat the Reproductive Issues Bill C-13 because of serious flaws in the bill.
It took several years for more than one retired bishop to come to the March for Life in Ottawa. Distributing flyers simply noting the positions of the various local candidates on the life and family issues is almost universally forbidden by bishops in Canada, whereas such distribution is very common and encouraged in many dioceses in the United States. So a crippling handicap that the Canadian pro-life movement has had all along has been roadblocks put in our way to prevent the most natural pro-life voting base from becoming well informed at election or even nomination times. Worse, most of the bishops have been strong Liberal Party or NDP supporters, no matter what the position of the candidate on the life issues.
It was Catholics who supported and elected lesbian Kathleen Wynne as an MPP. Friar Rick of St. Bonaventure's parish took her around door to door to homes in his riding promoting her election.
The Canadian media, political and religious culture is far more ideologically uniform than in the US which encourages a greater diversity of views. In Canada, rocking the boat of the established consensus is greatly frowned upon. Lukewarmness is considered a virtue that must be enforced.
Opposition to aborted baby photos is stronger in Canada. The United States has nothing like the enormous, negative influence of Quebec on religion and politics on the entire nation. The majority of PMs since the 60s have been Quebecers - a province of mostly faithless, rebellious, former Catholics who despise Christian morality. Thankfully, there were a good number of wonderful bishop appointments in the province under Benedict. But change will take a long time.
There was a pro-life caucus in the Harris government, but it was essentially shut down by the premier and his thugs. What was done to MPP Jim Brown who worked closely with us on a proposed conscience protection bill, and more, was like something out of a Mafia movie. That very good man was crucified by the party leadership simply for acting according to his conscience and they made him a nervous wreck who forever left politics. Harris welcomed gay activist Jaime Watt into his inner circle and from then on all pro-life, pro-family efforts were toast. A gay activist was appointed to head the Human Rights Commission and the Harris government, more than any other in the nation, led the way to eventual federal passage of same-sex "marriage;.
We worked very closely with the PC Family Issues Caucus and Ontario MPP Frank Klees to pass his parental rights on health care Bill 91 which would simply have required that parents be advised of health care treatments planned for their children. The bill was supported by 34 Tory backbenchers from the PC “family issues caucus". But Mike Harris and his cabinet thugs betrayed their own caucus members and joined with the opposition to vote against and defeat the bill. See my report card on the Harris government. http://www.theinterim.com/issues/abortion/ontario-tories-have-dismal-record-on-life-issues/
I have shown you only a tiny snapshot of all that was attempted over many years. Your readers deserve more than your personal opinion, limited by your own experiences within the political system and all the whispers and lies that occur in that environment, in order to accurately make their own evaluations of what took place in the past and what should be done now.
Sorry to be so intense about this, but your comments were so far from the truth (I don't doubt the goodwill in them) and potentially damaging to the good reputations of some of the most dedicated and selfless people I have known in my life, that I felt I had no choice but to respond. These kinds of comments have been going around for years from one person to another and I can tell you that they serve no good purpose at all, other than to cause more harmful division and confusion.