On the feature today, former MP Pierre Lemieux, another exclusive interview with a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. This week, Al speaks with former Glengarry—Prescott—Russell MP Pierre Lemieux. Click here to read the transcript of the interview.
In the news:
A compromise on a court case involving Alberta homeschoolers. Click here for the latest in this ongoing saga.
An important parental rights case is going to appeal in Ontario. Click here to learn why one father won’t give up on his children’s education.
Some statistics on euthanasia in Canada in 2016. Click here for more from Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
And another illustration of why “we need a law” on abortion. Click here to learn why Canada needs to enact abortion legislation.
There is a truce of sorts in a homeschool education court battle in Alberta.
Late last year, the Alberta government pulled the accreditation for the Wisdom Academy and its related Trinity Christian School Association, citing financial irregularities. The government also stopped all funding to the organization. Wisdom won a temporary injunction against that suspension in November, in which it was allowed to continue to operate without funding. The case was back in court last week. But both sides told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice E.J. Simpson that they have now agreed to drop legal action, and agreed to a consent order which reinstates accreditation and funding. The homeschool group has also agreed to have a government-appointed financial adviser watch over its operations for at least a year. In the meantime, an RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency investigation of Trinity’s finances will continue.
A man in the Hamilton-Wentworth School District in Ontario has launched a legal appeal of a lower court decision on parental rights.
Dr. Steve Tourloukis, who has two children, took his local school district to court last year for the right to be informed about when his children were taught controversial topics, and to take his children out of a public school classroom when he deemed appropriate. He lost at the lower court.
His lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, says the lower court agreed that Tourloukis’ religious freedom was violated in the case because Mr. Tourloukis felt he had to shield his children from “false teachings, which he characterized as teachings which undermine or go against or contradict Biblical teachings.”
However, Polizogopoulos says, the judge also ruled that the School Board was being “reasonable” in refusing to allow Tourloukis to remove his children from the classroom because the Board needed to consider the Charter right to “inclusivity.”
Polizogopoulos says that is “not at all a Charter right. (The judge) came up with it in this decision. It (inclusivity) is not a Charter right. It’s not a Charter value.”
The appeal will likely be heard sometime this spring or summer.
The end of 2016 brought out some preliminary statistics on euthanasia in Canada. Parliament passed a new law on the issue in June, and since then, 744 people have successfully ended their own lives with medical assistance. Alex Schadenberg with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says the numbers are not all that surprising, because of the amount of attention the issue has been receiving. “When you’re in the media enough, it becomes normalized much more quickly,” Schadenberg says. “The fact is the Supreme Court of Canada made a terrible decision, and so we have a serious problem. Unless we overturn that decision, we will be left with some sort of euthanasia no matter what.”
Schadenberg adds part of the problem is political, because “we have a Liberal government that is likely in favour of even more euthanasia, rather than less.”
The 744 reported deaths didn’t include statistics from New Brunswick, the Yukon or Nunavut – those three jurisdictions didn’t release any data.
A disturbing abortion case out of Quebec: a pregnant woman in Montreal went to the McGill University Health Centre for an abortion. She was 7½ months pregnant and had discovered a health problem with her unborn child. The Health Centre originally denied her request for an abortion; the woman was forced to “shop around” before she eventually found a hospital that would perform the procedure.
Mike Schouten with We Need a Law says this case again illustrates the problem with Canada’s lack of any abortion regulations. “You have the medical community grappling with this reality that we have lawmakers in this country who refuse to provide a framework for the medical community to facilitate abortions; that’s why we’re seeing this tension.”
He says the case also highlights the question of why the government is refusing to impose any kind of regulations on the procedure. “Every country around the world has regulations. For example, France has rules that you can have an abortion up to 12 weeks, and if you want one after that – even in cases of fetal abnormality – you need extensive visits to doctors.” Schouten says this is a good illustration of the need for a so-called “international standards” abortion law. “If we’re going to live in a country that (allows abortion because) a fetus is deformed or… there might be something wrong with it, I think that’s a dangerous position to be in because then we’re accepting that there are some people who are less valuable than others, and their lives aren’t worth living.”
A legal defeat over the Christmas break for pro-life protestor Mary Wagner. Wagner was imprisoned after a peaceful protest at an Ontario abortion clinic in 2012. Wagner appealed that conviction in late November, arguing that the original trial was unfair because it failed to consider Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which allows justifiable force to protect “anyone” from assault, and that the term “anyone” should include the unborn child. The appeal essentially asked the court to declare the unborn child a human being, and abortion culpable homicide. The appeal was rejected. You can read the ruling here.
In a completely different and opposite ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that a woman who lost her baby during her pregnancy as a result of medical malpractice can sue the doctor for wrongful death because the unborn child is a human being. The case centred on a misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, and the mother sued for wrongful death.
The Alabama Court decided that the unborn are protected by the state’s wrongful-death statute because life begins at conception.
The feature this week is an exclusive interview with another Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate, Pierre Lemieux. Mr. Lemieux is a former member of Parliament and a retired Lieutenant-Colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces.
LN: In late December, you put out a press release saying it’s time to have the discussion on gender-selective abortion. You’re the first candidate that’s kind of led with his chin on this specific facet of the pro-life question. Talk to me a little bit about your perspective on this.
PL: Absolutely. So, I’ve based my campaign on three pillars. One of the pillars upon which my campaign is based is a pillar about which I feel quite strongly; it’s called democracy. What I mean by democracy is that here in Canada we have a strong and healthy democracy. And within that democracy, Canadians should be able to discuss within society – and debate within Parliament – any subject that is of importance to them. In an open and respectful way. And so I just find it very inappropriate – somewhat undemocratic – that politicians will say “this debate is closed”, “that debate is over”, “this debate will not be reopened.” I think we want to be in the realm of having open and respectful debate on any issue which is of interest to Canadians. And so this leads up to the announcement regarding sex-selective abortions whereby baby girls are aborted simply because they are girls; for no other reason than that they are girls. So I feel from my discussions with Conservatives – my discussions with Canadians – they want to have discussions about life issues, and this is a good example of a discussion that we can have.
LN: You say they want to have discussions about life issues. We just had Cassie and Molly’s Law; that failed in Parliament. There’s the whole broader discussion; I’m sure you’re familiar with the We Need a Law organization; one of the talking points is “there’s three countries in the world that don’t have any restrictions on abortion: North Korea, China, and the only democracy, us.” Would you, if you were to become the leader, expand the discussion on these issues beyond gender-selective abortions, or do you leave that to the caucus to bring forward, or what’s your thought?
PL: That’s a very good question, and that’s why my pillar on democracy is so important. Because I will not be one to say “well, that debate is over. We cannot have that debate here in Parliament. We cannot have that debate within Canadian society.”
So, the way in which debates come about can be quite varied. You can have an MP that’s representing – for example – his or her constituents, and they begin a debate, either within Parliament (or) within society where they have meetings with Canadians. They do press releases. They do outreach to start a debate or to start a discussion.
But you can also have groups within Canada – there are many, many groups that want to talk about life issues – these organizations and groups have memberships and they represent a wide cross-section of Canadians. That’s another way for debate and discussion to start. So there are many, many ways. I encourage all of it. And as I say, when I talk with Canadians – when I talk with Conservatives – there are life issues that they want to discuss, so I would be open to any of those kinds of discussions and debates, and I actually think it’s healthy within our Canadian democracy.
LN: Forgive me, but the specifics of the question were “would your government introduce legislation beyond the sex-selective thing?” I mean, is there a broader discussion to be had? You seem to be saying there is, but would the government initiate that or would that have to come via a Private Member’s Bill or Motion?
PL: No, no, the government could initiate that. For example, that’s what I’m proposing here, is initiating a discussion, but it’s based on input from Canadians on life issues which would include sex-selective abortions. But it could include other things as well.
I think, as you quite rightly pointed out, Canada is the only democracy in the world that has no laws at all protecting life before birth. And I think it’s 80 percent of Canadians don’t even realize that. They don’t realize that abortion can take place from the moment of conception right up until the 9-month mark, just before the birth process is completed. And when they become aware of that, Canadians are uncomfortable, and they want to see initiatives. And so part of the debate – part of the discussion on that – leads to solutions.
LN: Let’s go to more general stuff. I’ve talked to several other leadership candidates. We’ve talked about the state of the party post the convention. The definition of marriage was changed there. There seems to be a perception that there’s a bit of a rift going on within the Conservative party. Some social conservatives have left. Some are drifting back in now that we have some sort of so-con leadership candidates such as yourself.
What’s the state of the Conservative party that you would be taking over if you were to win the leadership, and how would you work to unite the various factions?
PL: This is such an interesting time for the Conservative party because there are several factors that influence the future direction of the party. One of them is of course the leader that is chosen, but the other one is also the membership. And the membership has a very vital role to play. My advice to people that have perhaps disengaged since the last convention would be to re-engage. Because what we want is a strong, healthy membership, and through this process of voting in the leadership race, members get to help determine the future direction of the party. For example, if there are people that value life – who want to have discussions and want to see initiatives on life issues – by all means join the party. You need to join the party. It’s only 15 dollars. With that 15 dollars, you will have an opportunity to vote for the leader that represents your values.
LN: I don’t want to put too sharp a point on this, but I asked Andrew Scheer the same question when I saw him a few weeks ago. You know, some of these leadership candidates are talking a fairly good game on the social conservative side. How do we know you’re not going to turtle and do a Patrick Brown on us when this is all over?
PL: When you look at my track record within Parliament, when I was elected I was a pro-life Member of Parliament. I was elected in Parliament for 10 years, and in many, many public debates and in voting, and statements I made, it was always in favour of life and in favour of life issues. So I believe in the value and dignity of human life from the moment of conception right through to natural death. I have spoken openly about this throughout my tenure as a Member of Parliament.
I’m also the father of five children, been married for 30 years, and life issues are important. I would say I’ve had the courage to bring forward an issue that highlights the interest that Canadians have in discussing life issues. Some of the other candidates would rather not talk about this, but I’m saying “no, we should be talking about this.” I’m trying to encourage people who value life to join the party, and to vote accordingly.
LN: Let’s move beyond the social conservative issues. What else does Pierre Lemieux bring to the table in terms of the leadership discussion?
PL: OK, so I’m running on a number of things. One of the things I’m running on is the idea of service. What I mean by that is service to country and service to Canadians. Canadians want a leader – and they want a Prime Minister – that will serve Canada first and serve them as Canadians. I have a very strong track record in service. I joined the military at the age of 17, and I served our country for 20 years. And then I also served as a Member of Parliament for 10 years. And I’ve served – of course – my wife and my family as a husband and father for 30 years. So I have a well-grounded record in service.
I’m also building my campaign not only on democracy – which will cover freedom of speech and freedom of belief, which I believe are under attack, and are eroding here in Canada – I’m also building my campaign on the pillar of family. Strong families lead to a strong society which leads to a strong Canada. We need to take action to strengthen our families within Canada.
And also on security. Canadians are concerned about security, both from internal threats and external threats. With my military background and my Parliamentary background, I want to address their security concerns.
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