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Capital punishment exists in Canada.

Opponents of capital punishment have been quick to underline the significance of the unanimous decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal to quash the long-contested murder conviction of Stephen Truscott in the 1959 rape and death of his 12-year-old schoolmate, Lynne Harper. Truscott would have been hanged for this alleged offence at age 14, had his death sentence not been commuted by the government to life imprisonment.

In a lead editorial on the case, The National Post recalled: "During the 1987 debate [in Parliament] on capital punishment, Brian Mulroney had this to say, and we believe it bears repeating: 'We uphold one principle--the inherent dignity of a human being, the inherent worth of human life. I will resist with all my strength, all my life, any action that would diminish that reality, that would lessen human value.' Amen."

Note the irony: Mulroney and members of the editorial board of The National Post avow that they uphold the inherent dignity and worth of every human being and will resist with all their strength and life any action that would diminish that reality. And to this end, they resolutely oppose the execution of convicted murderers. Yet neither Mulroney nor The National Post has shown any similar determination to resist the wholesale state-sanctioned slaughter of entirely innocent, pre-born human beings.

There is no excuse for such gross inconsistency. The scientific facts about the beginning of human life are indisputable. In a standard medical textbook, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th edition), two eminent embryologists, doctors Keith Moore and T. V. N. Persaud, unambiguously state: "Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm ... unites with a female gamete or oocyte ... to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

Mulroney was the prime minister of Canada in January 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its notorious Morgentaler decision that quashed the few remaining restrictions on abortion in the Criminal Code. As a result, Canada became the only democratic country in the world with the ignominious distinction of having no law restricting abortion at any time during a pregnancy right up to a few seconds before birth.

What, though, did Mulroney do in reaction to this calamitous 1988 Morgentaler ruling? In conformity with his affirmation of the sanctity of human life in the debate over capital punishment just a few months earlier, did he reiterate his unalterable resolve to uphold the dignity and worth of all human beings?

Alas, no. He did not even invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to overturn the immoral and unconstitutional ruling of the majority of the Court in Morgentaler. Instead, he and his Progressive Conservative colleagues introduced a new abortion bill that offered even less protection for the lives of pre-born human beings than the disastrous legislation adopted by the Trudeau Liberals in 1969 that originally unleashed the abortion licence in Canada.

As it turned out, the Mulroney government's abortion bill was defeated in the Senate. Canada still has no legislation to protect the lives of unborn children. Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative cabinet colleagues have no plans to rectify the scandal. To the contrary, Harper has pledged time and again that his Conservative government will introduce no legislation to curtail abortion.

On the provincial level, there is no less scandalous disregard for the sanctity of human life. While only Parliament can outlaw abortion, the provinces can defund the procedure and circumscribe it with regulations. Yet no provincial government--Liberal, Progressive Conservative or New Democrat--has shown any disposition to invoke provincial powers to safeguard the lives of babies in the womb.

Still, within every significant federal and provincial political party, there remain some politicians who uphold the sanctity of human life. Principled voters should back these pro-life politicians.

Correspondingly, any voter who is truly determined to resist with all his strength, all his life, any action that would diminish the dignity and worth of human life should also resolutely oppose any opportunistic politician who would seek power by sanctioning the unbridled evil of abortion on demand.

Rory Leishman is the author of the book Against Judicial Activism: The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada (McGill/Queens University Press, Montreal).
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Title Annotation:COLUMNIST
Author:Leishman, Rory
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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