There is a disturbing reality in the modern political age, among leaders of all political stripes – rule by fiat, or decree, rather than by parliamentary debate and reason. We have seen this, particularly, in the issues surrounding abortion.

This reticence to debate the issue of abortion goes back decades but, recently, has transcended party lines to such an extent that today, in Canada, there is no major political party which will speak for the rights of the unborn. Not only is this true, but individuals within these parties risk censure or expulsion from cabinet for expressing pro-life sentiments publicly.

This inflexibility has been seen in our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who has been steadfast in his position that his government will not reopen the abortion debate. He has gone so far as to oppose his own backbenchers, such as Stephen Woodworth, who have tried to introduce pro-life private members bills.

Not surprisingly, the NDP has consistently taken a “hands-off” approach, stating as far back as the leadership of Ed Broadbent (1975-1989) that abortion is an issue between a woman and her doctor. There are no known pro-life NDP Members of Parliament.

“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.”

The latest move to stifle debate has come from new Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau. Speaking to the media at the time of the pro-life March in Ottawa in May, Trudeau declared that all Liberal candidates for the next election must be pro-choice, removing the previous freedom of conscience practiced in the Liberal party. In his own words: “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.”

This position statement immediately created backlash as there are currently several Liberal MPs who are pro-life. Trudeau clarified his position somewhat by declaring that current MPs would be able to run, but would be expected to vote pro-choice. He sent a letter to party faithful, assuring them that everyone had the right to their own views, then saying: “When it comes to actively supporting women’s rights, our party must speak with one voice.”

What the recent burst of news stories has succeeded in doing is shining a light on the dismal condition of the Freedom of Expression in Canada. The status quo – that a child in the womb can be aborted at any time for any reason up until the moment of birth – remains in place. Everyone who disagrees can line up somewhere outside of the chambers of power, your opinion does not matter.

We who are committed to the rights of the unborn have our work cut out for us.

By Tony denBok

(Photography by: Leah denBok Photography)