Au revoir (eventually), Maurice Vellacott

A prominent social conservative won’t seek re-election
Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott is shown in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Tuesday May 9, 2006. Canada’s justice minister says it is up to his Conservative caucus colleague Maurice Vellacott to explain why he recommended a Diamond Jubilee medal for a repeat offender jailed for harassing women over abortion.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Late last week, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott announced that he will retire when the next election is called. When he departs, the Conservative caucus will lose one of its most prominent social conservatives.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said he is disappointed to hear Vellacott is stepping down. “We’re going to miss him a lot,” said Hughes. “He’s done an outstanding job for many years. It’s going to be tough to replace him. I hope he will have a hand in choosing his replacement.”

… Hughes described Vellacott as “absolutely solid from the time he arrived,” and among the many Conservative backbenchers “who put it all on the line every time.”

In January, Mr. Vellacott was one of three Conservative MPs to write to the RCMP to ask that some abortions be investigated as homicides. Last year, he awarded Diamond Jubilee medals to two anti-abortion activists. Two years ago, he criticized the government’s decision to partner with Planned Parenthood.

This fall he plans to introduce a bill to enact the principle of “equal parenting“—he introduced a bill on this in the previous parliament as well. Rob Nicholson seemed to quibble with the concept in 2009. The Conservative party officially endorses a policy of shared parenting.

In his statement, Mr. Vellacott recalls what might seem a long forgotten controversy (or achievement) of the Harper era. “During my time in Ottawa,” he writes, “I have been able to see dollars withdrawn from some radical special interest groups.” This is a reference to the court challenges program, which the Harper government eliminated in 2006 (part of the program was restored in 2008). Ian Brodie, Mr. Harper’s first chief of staff upon becoming prime minister, studied the program as an academic.