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First Tory disgraced

Vellacott reveals underbelly of Conservative caucus

Throughout the winter election campaign, Conservative leader Stephen Harper managed to stifle any bloopers from fundamentalist candidates and the deeply homophobic and pro-life party activists. Since then, his office has tried its best to keep a lid on the lunatic right within his caucus.

But you can’t keep some people down. Maurice Vellacott, an extremist from rural Saskatchewan, put both feet in his mouth in early May when he accused judges of playing “the position of God.” And he misquoted a speech by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in which she supposedly spoke of having a “mystical power” so that “everything that they’ve ever decreed is not to be questioned.”

When the members of the Commons committee for aboriginal affairs threatened to remove Vellacott from his position as chair (and this is a guy who defended cops who were dumping First Nations people on the outskirts of a Saskatchewan city in the middle of winter), Vellacott pre-empted them by resigning first.

A few days later, Vellacott was again in the news, this time as the sponsor of a visit to Parliament Hill by LifeCanada and Canadians For Life on May 10. The next day, thousands of pro-life protestors marched on the hill and held a rally to mark the anniversary of the 1969 bill that lifted some restrictions on abortion. Vellacott is co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, a group of anti-choice MPs from different parties.

Though Harper has said he will not bring in anti-choice legislation, and his party endorsed that stand at its March, 2005 policy convention in Montreal, pro-lifers hope to build support in the Conservative caucus. Vellacott hinted at a May 11 news conference that pro-life MPs might introduce a private member’s bill banning abortion.

And at a rally, he suggested women are being forced into abortions by the men in their lives.

“We are opposed to unwanted abortions that do happen in this country where women are coerced, pressured, harassed, badgered if you will, by a boyfriend, by a husband, by a doctor, an employer, friends, family circumstance,” the Globe And Mail quoted him as saying.

Vellacott and Liberal MP Paul Steckle appeared in public with Angela Lanfranchi, a New Jersey surgeon and anti-abortion activist who claims abortions cause breast cancer.