SEND ONLY ONE MESSAGE THIS ELECTION: MORE PRO-LIFE MPs.
By Scott Hayward
Some of you reading this may know Nathan Cullen. For those that don’t, Nathan is one of the longest-serving and most popular NDP MPs in the House of Commons today. During these troubling times for the NDP under Jagmeet Singh’s leadership, Nathan is often thought of as preferable alternative to the foundering Singh. Nathan, while beloved in his riding and by all accounts a very diligent and hard-working Member of Parliament, has a 0% pro-life voting record on abortion over the last 15 years. Not once has Nathan stood up to vote for life in the House of Commons.
Why does this matter?
In the 2004 general federal election, Nathan was running as the NDP candidate in the newly created riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. The new riding was created out of three other federal ridings. All three federal ridings had elected a Canadian Alliance (one of the two founding parties of the modern Conservative Party of Canada) Member of Parliament in the previous federal election in 2000. All three were pro-life.
In the 2004 federal election, Andy Burton (one of the pro-life Canadian Alliance MPs from one of the three former ridings that now made up Skeena-Bulkley Valley) was the Conservative candidate. Here were the results for election night:
The margin of victory of Nathan over Andy was 1,272.
Rod Taylor ran for the Christian Heritage Party, a part that since its founding in 1987 has not elected one Member of Parliament in nine federal elections over 32 years. Assuming that all 1,408 of his voters cast their ballot for the pro-life Andy Burton instead, then Nathan Cullen would not be the Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and we would have had another precious vote in the House of Commons over the past 15 years.
Why do I bring up this story?
Because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
According to most polling aggregates, the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada are neck-in-neck in most polls. Accounting for regional variations in polling and seats, currently there is approximately a 30 seat differential.
However, a few pro-lifers are upset at Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and may not cast their ballots for pro-life Conservative candidates in their ridings. Let’s take a look at the common arguments for not voting for pro-life Conservative candidates and provide reasons for why pro-lifers should cast their ballots for the most winnable pro-life candidate in the upcoming election in their ridings:
CLAIM 1: ANDREW SCHEER SAID THAT HE WOULD NOT ALLOW THE CONSERVATIVES TO RE-OPEN THE ABORTION DEBATE.
Andrew Scheer said that he would not re-open the abortion debate. Andrew Scheer is only one of 338 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Each non-cabinet Member of Parliament is allowed to introduce whatever legislation they want through a private members’ bill. A private members’ bill is legislation introduced by a Member of Parliament on their own accord and not by the cabinet, which is the government.
As a pro-life movement, we don’t need Andrew Scheer to personally introduce legislation. In fact, rarely has a Prime Minister ever moved a bill or motion on the floor of the House of Commons. As a movement, we have another 337 Members of Parliament, potentially, to choose from to introduce pro-life legislation.
- He would allow members of the Conservative caucus to introduce pro-life legislation
- He would not whip the caucus on the vote of pro-life legislation
- He would not whip the cabinet on the vote of pro-life legislation
Not all Conservative leadership candidates made such a pledge and not all Conservative leaders in the past have lived up to such a standard. For the record, this is not Stephen Harper’s policy, as Stephen Harper actively dissuaded Conservative caucus members from introducing pro-life legislation.
In fact, as Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer ruled against Stephen Harper when his government tried to control what pro-life Conservative caucus members could say in their SO-31s (this stands for Standing Order-31, which is a rule that governs the House of Commons proceedings that allows Members of Parliament to present one-minute Member Statements for 15 minutes prior to each Question Period on any matter they see fit).
CLAIM 2: THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA POLICY DECLARATION DOES NOT ALLOW FOR MEMBERS OF CAUCUS TO INTRODUCE PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION.
This statement often refers to Policy No. 70, which reads:
A Conservative government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion.
The common mistake is that people synonymize government with caucus. The government is simply the Members of Parliament and Senators that are sworn into the cabinet. Every other Member of Parliament and Senator is not the government, but simply supports the government, which is represented by the cabinet in the House of Commons and Senate.
At RightNow, we tried to eliminate this line completely in the policy declaration at the 2018 Conservative Party of Canada Policy Convention. However, we were 107 votes short of accomplishing that goal. As you can read here, it wasn’t that there were nefarious tricks being played against pro-lifers, we simply lost because we did not have enough pro-lifers at Convention. If you want pro-lifers to win, then you have to show up!
However, the Conservative Party of Canada policy declaration also contains many pro-life clauses such as:
Policy No. 7 (Free votes):
On issues of moral conscience, such as abortion, the definition of marriage, and euthanasia, the Conservative Party acknowledges the diversity of deeply-held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of Members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.
Policy No. 62 (Conscientious objection and palliative care):
The Conservative Party supports conscience rights for doctors, nurses, and others to refuse to participate in, or refer their patients for abortion, assisted suicide, or euthanasia.
The government should work with provinces and territories and professional medical groups to develop a National Palliative Care Strategy and adopt appropriate legislation to provide timely and equitable access across Canada to palliative care which affirms life, regards dying as a normal process and excludes euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAID).
Policy No. 71 (Euthanasia):
The Conservative Party will not support any legislation to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The Conservative Party of Canada opposes the extension of euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAID) to minors, to people who are not competent and people who live with psychological suffering.
Policy No. 73 (Maternal health):
Abortion should be explicitly excluded from Canada’s maternal and child health program in countries where Canadian aid is delivered, since it is extremely divisive – and often illegal.
Policy No. 81 (Sex-selective abortion):
We condemn discrimination against girls through gender selection abortions.
CLAIM 3: MAXIME BERNIER SAID THAT HE WOULD INTRODUCE PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION.
- Neither would introduce personally introduce pro-life legislation, or their cabinets
- Both would allow a pro-life private members’ bill from their caucus
- Neither would whip their caucus on votes on pro-life legislation (including cabinet)
However, there are some differences, personally, between Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier:
Such as Andrew Scheer’s pro-life voting record:
versus Maxime Bernier’s pro-life voting record:
Also, Maxime Bernier leads a political party (the People’s Party of Canada) that does not have any pro-life policies and he has stated that he would not adopt any pro-life policies for the party’s election platform for the upcoming general federal election.
CLAIM 4: VOTING FOR A PRO-LIFE PPC CANDIDATE OVER A PRO-LIFE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE IN MY RIDING WON’T SPLIT THE VOTE.
In Canada we operate on a first-past-the-post electoral system. That means that the candidate who wins the highest number of votes wins. The winning candidate does not need 50% + 1 of the votes cast in a riding or a certain margin between them and the second-placed candidate. They just need to win the most votes.
If you have a pro-life Conservative candidate in your federal riding and you are considering voting for another pro-life candidate, remember Nathan Cullen. Vote-splitting is a real occurrence and can actively block pro-lifers from being elected to the House of Commons.
The pro-life movement cannot pass pro-life legislation without pro-life Members of Parliament. Pro-life Members of Parliament cannot be elected if pro-lifers are not voting for them in their ridings. At this point in the electoral cycle, the People’s Party of Canada has failed to poll beyond 5% in virtually every riding, except Beauce where their current leader, Maxime Bernier, is the leader. Mathematically, voting for your pro-life PPC candidate over a pro-life Conservative candidate in the same riding will actively block more pro-lifers in the House of Commons.
This coming general federal election is projected to be extremely close, both in projected share of the vote and in seats. The last time an election was this close was in 1972, when the first Trudeau was reduced from a majority government to a minority government of 109 seats compared to Robert Stanfield’s Progressive Conservatives of 107 seats.
Out of the 9,667,463 votes cast in the 1972 general federal election, it came down to 36 voters in two ridings. In the riding of Frontenac, if 33 voters switched their votes for the Liberal candidate to the Progressive Conservative candidate and in the federal riding of Ontario, if 3 votes did the same, then Pierre Trudeau would have lost the election and Robert Stanfield would have been the prime minister.
Mathematically, it took just over 0.000003% of the vote in that federal election to determine who would be the prime minister of Canada.
In that federal election, the right-wing vote was split between two political parties: the Progressive Conservatives and the Social Credit. If you do a seat-by-seat calculation and combine the two split votes, the total number of seats that could have been won by a united conservative party would have been 138 seats, which is five seats more than the required 133 to win a majority for the 29th Parliament.
CLAIM 5: RIGHTNOW ONLY SUPPORTS CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA CANDIDATES AND NOT THOSE FROM OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES, LIKE THE PPC.
At RightNow our mission is to nominate and elect pro-life politicians, federally and provincially, across Canada. The reason for this mission is so that pro-life legislation can be introduced and passed in our federal legislatures.
Currently, of the 338 Members of Parliament, only 58 have a 100% pro-life voting record. That’s slightly over 17% of the House of Commons. We have a long way to go before we have elected that elusive 170 pro-life Members of Parliament to pass any pro-life legislation in the House of Commons. It will take more than the upcoming 2019 general federal election to build toward that pro-life majority.
This is the first federal election where the pro-life movement has had a deliberate, intelligent, and reasonable plan to build up the number of pro-lifers in the House of Commons. At RightNow we are targeting 50 ridings where the current pro-abortion Member of Parliament won by the slimmest number of votes. Since there are only two full-time staff members at RightNow (that is all we can afford, so feel free in becoming a monthly investor here so that we can hire more people and target more ridings), we only have the capacity to target 50 ridings.
Additionally, there is currently only one political party that has a mathematical probability of electing more than twelve Members of Parliament (the minimum that is required to be recognized as a political party in the House of Commons) that allows pro-lifers to run for nominations, introduce pro-life legislation, and vote freely on said legislation and that is Conservative Party of Canada.
At RightNow, we understand and recognize that there are a number of pro-lifers who exist in other political parties who elect more than one Member of Parliament, being the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. At this time, neither of these parties allow pro-lifers to run for nominations and any votes on pro-life legislation is whipped. However, that wasn’t always the case and that won’t always be the case.
As RightNow grows with your generous investments, we will grow our ability to identify, train, and work with pro-lifers in those other parties. By doing so, we can send enough pro-life New Democrats and Liberals to their policy conventions to reverse their stances on allowing pro-lifers to run for their nominations and whipped votes on pro-life legislation. This will, however, take a number of years and a few more election cycles.
We fully intend and have calculated a path forward with a timeline on electing a pro-life majority in the House of Commons. Not every member of that pro-life majority in the House will be a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, and such a pro-life majority (which will include members from other political parties) will take a few electoral cycles to achieve.
What we will not do at RightNow is invest our investors’ generous finances and our volunteers’ precious time into campaigns that do not have a mathematical probability of succeeding. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our board, our investors, our volunteers, and supporters to reach our mission as quickly and as effectively as possible. For the upcoming 2019 general federal election, that means working within the Conservative Party of Canada. For future elections, that could expand to other political parties in specific ridings across Canada, including the People's Party of Canada if they prove to be an electable entity.
CLAIM 6: THE POLLS ARE WRONG AND ARE NOT PICKING UP AN UNKNOWN PPC VOTE, JUST LIKE THEY DID IN THE 2016 AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
It is important to realize that polling methodologies have generally been quite different for polls in the Canada versus polls in the United States. There are many different ways to conduct polls:
- Online (the least expensive, but most inaccurate)
- IVR – interactive voice response (slightly more expensive, and slightly more accurate)
- Phone, no mobile (second most expensive, and second most accurate)
- Phone, with mobile (most expensive, and most accurate)
Why the differences?
They key in polling is that you want to have a representative sample. It is one thing to poll 4,000 people across Canada, but what if all of those people live in Calgary? Or what if all of them are over the age of 65? Or what if all of them are Hindu? You can see the problem of relying solely on numbers and not on representations. While individual anomalies exist in different demographics (i.e. age, geography, income, education, etc…), such demographics tend to share the same political affiliations as they share other traits in common.
So, to have a representative sample of the population, a pollster must ensure that the people they poll are in proportion to the voting population in general. Then they must ensure that the questions polled are answered honestly. That is more difficult to do online as opposed to a clerk in a polling firm having a conversation with someone over the phone. Now you can see why there is a difference in cost.
The problem with the American polling companies is that a lot of their polling data was focused on where the population lives, which is along the Democratic coastal cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Boston. However, the American presidential electoral college is based on the number of seats that states have in the House of Representatives (based on population) and the Senate (two per state, regardless of population). Now you can see why polling firms would fail to pick up the votes where they matter: suburban areas of rust-belt states in the mid-West.
In Canada, besides the 2013 general provincial election in British Columbia, most polling aggregates have been within a percentage point or two of assessing the popular vote of our federal and provincial elections in the last ten years. Using the CBC Poll Tracker for the most recent provincial elections in the three most populous provinces over the last two years, the average differential for the share of the popular vote is 1.66 percentage points and the average differential for seat projections is 3.09.
Using this data and applying the average error of the most recent general elections to the current People’s Party of Canada projections for the CBC Poll Tracker (which is one of many that we utilize at RightNow), this is what the best-case scenario would be for any additional PPC secret vote:
At RightNow, we base our decisions on numerical analysis and evidence, not on conjecture. We operate in a conjecture-free zone. So, when polling aggregates in Canada tell us that the People’s Party of Canada is polling between 1-3% nationally, and is not projected to win more than one seat, we are extremely disinclined to get involved in that political party at this time, just as we are disinclined to get involved in the Christian Heritage Party for the same reason.
CLAIM 7: RIGHTNOW WOULD ADVISE US TO VOTE CONSERVATIVE, EVEN IF THE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE IS PRO-ABORTION.
At RightNow we only support pro-life candidates. The mission of RightNow is to nominate and elect pro-life candidates, federally and provincially, across Canada to achieve pro-life majorities in our federal and provincial legislatures. We do not support pro-abortion candidates, even Conservative pro-abortion candidates.
If you live in a riding where your Conservative candidate is pro-abortion, but your People's Party of Canada is pro-life, we will not advise you to vote for the pro-abortion candidate, regardless of party affiliation. What we would advise, however, is if you live within reasonable driving distance of another riding where there is a pro-life Conservative candidate that has a reasonable mathematical possibility of being elected (particularly if the results in that riding will be close), then please take the time to go to that riding and help out that candidate. Your volunteer time investment in a pro-life Conservative candidate who has a far higher mathematical likelihood of winning in a tight riding will have a greater return on investment for the pro-life movement.
The pro-life movement needs more pro-life Members of Parliament, not to increase failing candidates' campaigns from 2% to 4% of the vote.
The only way that the pro-life movement can pass pro-life legislation is by electing pro-life Members of Parliament. For the 2019 general federal election, only one political party that is polling above 10% nationally and is projected to potentially form government will allow pro-lifers to run as their candidates, which is the Conservative Party of Canada. Not only are pro-lifers allowed to run as candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada, but they are allowed to introduce and vote for pro-life legislation.
Remember, a Conservative majority is not synonymous with a pro-life majority. Not every member and voter of the Conservative Party of Canada (or the People’s Party of Canada, for that matter) is pro-life, just like not every member or voter of the Liberal Party of Canada is pro-abortion.
As we saw in the case of Nathan Cullen and in the 1972 federal election, every vote counts, and splitting the vote can lead to dire consequences on the country for a very long time.
At RightNow, we are solely focused on nominating and electing pro-life politicians, federally and provincially, across Canada. That means we are only interested in encouraging pro-lifers to send one message this election with your votes: more pro-life MPs to Ottawa!