Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Christian right will find out soon- What a friend they have in Harper - Can PM keep abortion off the agenda

Stephen Harper finally has his majority, the third time was the charm.  Canadians, while perhaps not warming to the Conservative leader, did trust him sufficiently to let him rule without the burden of the leash that is a minority government. 

But in appealing to a broader base of Canadian voters does Stephen Harper risk alienating his Christian right base.  While everyone is dissecting the results: the demolition of the Bloc, the implosion of the Liberals and the explosion of the NDP....the Christian right is likely wondering when and if issues near and dear to their constituency will be addressed. 

Of course I'm talking about things like same sex marriage and the elephant in the room, abortion. 

It was issues such as those which gave birth to Preston Manning's Reform movement, and propelled the prairie populist pastor all the way to being leader of her majesty's official opposition. 

We all know that Stephen Harper has completely repudiated any notion that a government led by him will re-open the abortion debate. Which is exactly as it should be in my opinion, the issue is just too contentious and poll after poll suggests that Canadians are decidedly pro-choice on the issue.

But those who voted for Mr. Harper are probably hoping otherwise.  Charles McVety is likely a name known by just about every politically engaged evangelical Christian.  He's the president of Canada Christian College and frequently comments on issues of importance to fundamentalist Christian voters.  In a recent interview with the Globe & Mail during the election campaign he said of the abortion issue:

Perhaps by nudging the issue into public debate it will soften the ground to allow for some discussion and allow Stephen Harper to keep his base of support happy and on side.  Already there's a story on CTV's website:  Tory backers push for 'truly conservative' government, it talks of core Conservative supporters looking to push the issue.

The alternative for the Conservatives is the risk of another Reform type movement splitting the right.  

In the end it might be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.  Leave abortion alone and Harper runs the risk of his base abandoning him, open the issue and he'll lose the support of moderate Canadians who finally put him over the top. 

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