What happened to the social conservative issues?
I was going through various interest group web sites, looking to see what they had to say about the election when I came to the website of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, a group of Christian social conservatives. They don't endorse any particular political party, but they identify five key issues for the election: abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, human cloning and stem cell research. What struck me about this list is how absent these issues have been from the campaign.
Euthanasia, human cloning and stem cell research haven't been central issues in any Canadian election, but the abortion issue has lurked in the background in 2000, 2004 and 2006. Same sex marriage was a central issue in 2004 and 2006. Both of those issues have been conspicuously absent this time. In the last couple of elections, the Liberals tried to raise the spectre of recriminalizing abortion as part of Harper's "hidden agenda." Same sex marriage was big as well. The fact that these things aren't issues this time shows how the Conservatives have moderated their image and how skillfully Stephen Harper has managed to steer the agenda to other issues. Of course, I hear grumbling from some social conservatives that Harper is a sell out who has had an opportunity to do something and failed to act. It appears, though, that these issues have been laid to rest for the time being.