The reconfirmation during the election that the Conservative Party will not legislate in the area of protecting the unborn again confirms that none
of the mainstream federal parties is pro-life. We continue
to be one of the few countries in the world with no laws
protecting unborn children.
This absence of protection is not supported by the majority of Canadians. Environics polls since 2002 have found the
majority of Canadians believe human life should be legally
protected some time prior to birth. Why then can a child
considered viable at 25 weeks’ gestation in one location
be purposefully killed in an abortion clinic across town?
What does it say about a society when debate about such a
profoundly important issue is considered a political liability,
even when most Canadians are open to change?
Christians are motivated to protect and care for the
vulnerable and the weak, including those yet to be born,
by the belief that life is a gift from God and that all humans
are created in God’s image. These beliefs cause us to affirm
the dignity of all, a norm that undergirds contemporary
notions of universal human rights.
Public discussion of issues like abortion and human
rights – and so many other issues – should cause us to ask
others about the beliefs and principles that shape their
positions on these issues. It’s a key question for all of us:
What are the sources of the norms that guide our laws?
How are these sources being nurtured?
If the principles that affirm the dignity of human life
are not affirmed and nourished, they will be unable to
sustain the life-affirming institutions and policies they
undergird (universal health care, for example).
sustain our Laws?
If we don’t nurture the principles that
sustain our social programs, we may
lose the will to maintain them.
Together for influence, impact and identity
The evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of
evangelicals gathered together for influence, impact and identity
in ministry and public witness. Since 1964 the eFC has provided
a national forum for evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical principles in life and society. visit us at theeFC.ca.
Conrad Black, while not talking about abortion, once
lamented the lack of a substantive debate on principles
that shape Canada, and I agree. He wrote: “Despite the lip
service still given to our Judeo-Christian traditions, most of
the political leadership in Canada, left and right, unctuous-
ly invoke the separation of church and state to debunk
any philosophical restraints on societal behaviour or the
prerogatives of government. Concerns that the bourgeois
values and religiosity that accompanied 19th-century in-
dustrialization and provided some conscientious limits to
it, or at least a receptivity to reform at times, are routinely
dismissed as atavistic humbug better ground to powder
in the gears of competing political and economic interests
played out in the political process.”
Let’s remember that these historic “values and religi-
osity” were the ones that animated the development of
hospitals, social welfare agencies and other institutions
cherished by Canadians today. Christian-based move-
ments were at the forefront because they applied biblical
principles that all Canadians recognized as wise.
Without social and moral principles to guide our interactions, especially with those vulnerable and unrelated
to us, we are prone to become self-interested and indifferent. Consider how many election promises focused
on enabling Canadians to care for themselves or their
But we also need public discussion about the principles that will sustain the willingness of Canadians to
care for others – a costly activity – especially in tough
times. Consider health care: as costs increase per capita
and demographic projections point to the increased tax
burden of an aging population, we must go beyond asking
about costs to ask if the next generation would be willing
to shoulder the financial and social responsibility of caring for the elderly.
Our historic and present-day Judeo-Christian traditions teach a strong work ethic, social responsibility, self-restraint, generosity and compassion, particularly for vulnerable people. As Canadian Christians, we cannot take
these norms for granted. We must continue to nurture and
proclaim our faith in Christ both in word and deed, a faith
manifest in loving God and our neighbour – also made in
God’s image – as we love ourselves. This critical part of
our witness undergirds our pursuit of laws and policies
that protect and nurture life. FT
bRUCE J. CLEMENgER is the president of The
evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Read more
of his columns at theeFC.ca/clemenger.