Canada Elects Its Obama: What Can America Learn?
Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sports personality, good looks, and the promise that any member of his Liberal Party who who questions his hard line pro-abortion stance will face serious consequences. Like Obama and Tony Blair before him, he is everything that the left has to offer. Sleek salesmanship without substance.
For all their rhetoric about tolerance and diversity, the left sure does have to resort to a lot of viewpoint-stifling in order to keep their agenda safe. What week goes by without the Christian CEO of a company getting boycotted or sued, a homeschool family being taken off the air for their views on marriage, or the so-called “Party of Jefferson” going after a county clerk in rural Kentucky?
At the end of the day, progressive policies tout great ideals and conservative policies tout what works in the real world. The only way for progressive ideals to win votes is for people to believe that common sense conservatism is not about finding realistic solutions, it’s about prejudice and bigotry. And in order for liberal elites to sell this to the voters, they can’t afford to let conservatives speak for themselves. They have to speak for us.
As a campaign junkie, former journalist, and constitutional attorney, I can’t begin to tell you the number of battles we’ve had to fight just to have a voice in the decision, much less win. I’ve litigated against school districts that denied after-school facilities to Christian clubs, even though the Supreme Court says they have to give us access just like any other club. I’ve been on MSNBC when they went after a conservative candidate for not playing their game of gotcha journalism.* Heck, one of the first things I did in politics was help with Prop 8 when the people of California settled the marriage issue as they wanted it, only to have the courts decide it for them.
But no matter how frustrated you are with the laws and court systems of this country, I’m here to tell you it’s better than public opinion.
Believe it or not, we still have a lot more of the western legal tradition alive in our legal system than the left wants you to believe. The residue of Judeo-Christian tradition and the English Common Law still echo through our precedents.
For all the times that churches and Christian-owned businesses get media backlash for taking a stand, the law has still been largely on their side into recent years. Van Orden v. Perry said you can keep the Ten Commandments display on the state capitol grounds. Good News Club v. Milford said schools have to keep facilities open to Christian events on the same terms as secular events. And let’s not forget Hobby Lobby’s victory under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
When the courts vote against free speech and free exercise, it’s usually when the leftist media and activist machine was stacked up against them to the point conservatives on the Court couldn’t hold them back any longer. At the end of the day, the left knows that rebuilding the court system in their image is still a long process. Sometimes they win, sometimes we win, but never as much as the left wants.
This is why it’s so critical to realize that the courts are often one of the last anchors to let go of our rights to have a voice. They hold the door open for our views at times when the media and political establishment would have closed it already.
If we want to see the future of these battles, both in the court of public opinion and the court of law, just look at other countries that are farther down the progressive death-spiral than we are.
I’m currently working as a fundraising consultant with Canada’s largest pro-life organization. They recently launched a legal department to defend the rights of pro-lifers across the country in the vein of groups like Liberty Counsel, ADF, or the ACLJ down in the States, which is why they wanted my help with the fundraising and constitutional law aspects of their mission.
Working on pro-life litigation in Canada has given me a whole new appreciation for our Bill of Rights. Not to say they don’t have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a constitutional form of government… on paper.
Take my involvement in the Conservative Party of Canada, for example, and my volunteer work for Prime Minister Harper’s knife-edge reelection bid against the Liberal and New Democratic leaders. Harper’s Conservative Party fell somewhere between Mitt Romney and Bill Clinton by U.S. standards.
Conservatives here in Alberta are getting pretty fed up with having no better alternative, which spawned a sort of failed TEA Party-style rebellion that managed to contribute more to the New Democrats taking the province than it did to advancing their cause. Alberta, the conservative, small business loving, cowboy hat toting Texas of Canada, elected a New Democratic Premier that echoes of Wendy Davis’ run for Governor of Texas. Red States take warning. You’re not invincible.
A pre-election controversy pitted the abortion lobby against Edmonton Member of Parliament Rona Ambrose, who served in Ottawa as the Minister of the Status of Women. Their petition for her resignation hit 6,100 signatures after she dared to vote for a motion asking a committee to examine the question of when life begins. Not even a bill to define life as beginning prior to birth, mind you, just to look into it. She questioned the fact that Canada is one of three countries in the world with no restrictions on abortion whatsoever (the others being China and North Korea). For that, she risked her career.
But back to our pro-life litigation here in the Dominion of Canada. Public opinion makes it hard to be pro-life here, but the court system isn’t much help either.
The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has picked a fight with the progressive bastions of the western world, university campuses. Carter Grant and Teresa Mervar, students at Ryerson University went to form a pro-life club on the campus. In the States, they would face some public opposition and possibly a fight with the administration, but there’s no question of their constitutional right to start that club.
Ryerson didn’t agree. Its student union denied club status and sent them packing. Now, we are fighting an uphill battle in the Ontario Superior Court to defend their Charter right to free speech.
Another campus battle launched just last month here in Alberta. CCBR intern Amberlee Nicol and other pro-life students are suing the University of Alberta with the help of John Carpay at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom. Pro-abortion students on the campus tore down their pro-life displays, physically blocked and harassed their demonstration, and insist they’ve done nothing wrong.
Pro-life rising star Amberlee Nicol wants the University to step in and stop the other students from harassing them and make them pay for tearing down 3,000 pro-life posters. But that won’t happen while the university does nothing.
The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform is fighting hard for pro-life students, and making great gains in an overwhelmingly pro-abortion country.
Their No-2-Trudeau campaign made media everywhere when its controversial use of graphic images brought the Liberal Party leader’s approval ratings down by double-digit percentages in key ridings. They’re fighting an uphill against both public opinion and the legal system, but they’re growing quickly and the largest pro-life campaign in Canadian history shows that their future is brighter than ever.
Conservatives lost the 2015 elections by overwhelming numbers. The Liberals swept into majority government territory in all but the Conservatives’ most secure base areas. In their coming years in opposition, the Conservative Party has a chance to choose a new leader, possibly one who will be a bit more solid on issues like life. For the first time since long before Harper came to power, pro-lifers have a champion in Ottawa in the person of Defence Minister Jason Kenney with a real shot at party leadership. He could be a force to be reckoned with in the meantime and change Canada forever when the Conservatives win a majority again.
The point of all this is to say that we can’t lose heart. What the progressives abroad have accomplished in Britain, Australia, and even as close to home as Canada, we can stop in its tracks. We have a Constitution, a Declaration of Independence, and a heritage like no other.
The very President who uttered those immortal words about tolerance and free speech also gave us the Declaration of Independence and America’s founding statute on religious liberty. He didn’t just talk about ideals, he joined a whole generation in pledging his life, fortune, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty.
Check out the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. Learn from what their battles can show us about not losing heart. Take inspiration from their goal to end abortion in Canada by 2030 (which is actually promising, since their abortion laws were passed by an Act of Parliament, as opposed to an activist Supreme Court decision). We can’t let the odds be our excuse.
Help them if you can and never give up, because what happens in the battle for liberty anywhere affects lovers of liberty everywhere.
Luke Douglas is an attorney and political consultant headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As an in-demand speaker and columnist, his experience in campaigns, lobbying, media, litigation, and scholarship put him on the cutting edge of conservative and libertarian battles across the U.S. and abroad. He holds a J.D. from Liberty University School of Law and a Bachelors in communications.
CCBR does not necessarily endorse the views of this editorial as it pertains to partisan politics. They are the views of the author alone.
*This author does not intend this as an endorsement of any particular Republican primary candidate, but only as an example.
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