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CLC Blog

CPC nixes pro-life, pro-family convention resolutions

In an exclusive report online last month, The Interim published disturbing details about how four pro-life and pro-family resolutions proposed for the national Conservative Party Convention in Vancouver May 26-28 were nixed. The past few months, CLC has encouraged its supporters to get involved in the Conservatives' policy formulation process. There were riding meetings, regional meetings, and a website called Ideas Lab. Our supporters were successful in ushering six pro-life and pro-family resolutions to this third level of Ideas Lab. They included: conscience rights for health care workers, supporting a Born Alive Infant Protection Act (to protect children born alive after an induced abortion), adding the word “abortion” to an existing policy condemning gender selection, removing the existing policy that a “Conservative government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion,” adding a paragraph to the section on social policy that the party would not “support legislation on ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’ which grants biological males the legal right to access female bathrooms,” and recognizing the right of Canadians who “believe in the traditional definition of marriage” to be protected from workplace discrimination. At its April 22 meeting, the CPC's National Policy Committee, scuttled the resolutions on: protecting the employment rights of those who believe in traditional marriage; opposing transgender bathroom rights; and supporting the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. It allowed resolutions on conscience rights for health care workers and gendercide to proceed to Vancouver. The Interim reported, the committee "had not made a decision whether to allow a change to party policy that a Conservative government would not move to regulate abortion, Article 64 of the 2013 National Party Policy Declaration." At the urging of interim party leader Rona Ambrose, the committee had a conference call the next week to determine the fact of the resolution nixing Article 64 and in a 10-3 vote (in which almost half the committee did not participate), decided to kill the resolution.

To be clear, all six resolutions passed the first "triggers" of garnering enough riding support to be considered at regional policy meetings where, again, they were popular enough to make it to the next level, the Ideas Lab, where MPs, former candidates, and riding association presidents and policy chairs could vote. The six resolutions were among the most popular policy proposals voted on with five of them receiving 80% support or more. Policy Committee chairman Wayne Benson, who also serves on the CPC National Council, led supporters to believe that any resolutions that won 80% support would automatically be considered at the breakout sessions in Vancouver (where they would have to pass before being considered by the full convention). But he took it upon himself to have the Policy Committee have final say on all resolutions. Interestingly, an LGBTory-backed resolution seeking to rescind the existing policy that states the party believes “Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage,” and “we support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” which had more Ideas Lab votes against than for, was given the go-ahead to be considered at convention.

This is outrageous. The Conservatives set up a process that was supposedly democratic and open to the grassroots supporters but when a small group of people didn't like what the grassroots had to say, they ignored the wishes of hundreds, if not thousands, of party supporters who got involved in the process. It is also outrageous that Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nosehill) put pressure on the Policy Committee to kill the pro-life and pro-family resolutions and even more outrageous that interim leader Rona Ambrose exercised her considerable influence to force a special conference call to nix a resolution that had popular support. Getting rid of Article 64 would not have committed the Tories to a pro-life plank; it would simply permit a future Conservative prime minister the ability to address life issues if he or she felt the desire to do so. It would also remove the confusion that Liberal MPs who are not part of the government, some of whom believe that as members of the governing party they could not support pro-life legislation; Article 64 only addresses government-initiated legislation, not private member's bills.

The Conservatives sent a very clear signal that they are happy to collect membership fees and act like they care about the policies desires by the grassroots, but when they get the chance in the backrooms they scuttle these grassroots efforts. And then they wonder why people are cynical.

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