|Member of the Canadian Parliament
|Preceded by||riding renamed from
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
1997 – 2000
|Preceded by||new riding|
|Succeeded by||riding renamed to
September 29, 1955 |
Canadian Alliance (2000-2003)
|Profession||pastor and personal care worker|
Maurice Vellacott (born September 29, 1955) is a Canadian politician. He has served in the Canadian House of Commons since 1997, and is currently the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Saskatoon—Wanuskewin in the province of Saskatchewan.
Early life, viewpoints and career
Vellacott was born to a family in Wadena, Saskatchewan, and was raised in Quill Lake. He obtained a Bachelor's degree from Briercrest College, a Christian educational institution located in Caronport, Saskatchewan, and later earned a Master of Divinity at the Canadian Theological Seminary (affiliated with the University of Regina) and a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity International University, which is an evangelical Christian university in Deerfield, Illinois. Before entering political life, he was a pastor and personal care worker at a nursing home in Rosthern, Saskatchewan. He joined the Reform Party of Canada in 1990.
Vellacott campaigned in the 1995 Saskatchewan provincial election as a Liberal, and lost to New Democratic Party candidate Eric Cline in Saskatoon Mount Royal. He later argued that running as a Liberal was consistent with his political ideology, in that the provincial Liberal platform of 1995 contained several policies advocated by the Reform Party, which did not have provincial affiliates.
Vellacott was elected for Ward Two on the Saskatoon District Health Board in 1995, and served on the board for two years before his election to the House of Commons. He wrote an editorial piece about Canada's health care system in 1996, defending the public model as far superior to the "fragmented" American system in combating administrative waste, but also arguing that the system was in need of renewal and an infusion of funds. Vellacott suggested that Saskatoon District Health could impose a surchange on American health insurers for certain medical procedures given to American patients, "and in the process make money to inject back into the public system for the people of Saskatchewan."
In early 1997, Vellacott opposed a request by Saskatoon's Gay and Lesbian Health Services (GLHS) for health board funding. Gens Hellquist of GLHS had argued that homophobic intolerance was responsible for higher levels of depression in the LGBT community in relation to society as a whole, and that community-specific funding would address these and other concerns. Vellacott responded by suggesting that many homosexuals were inappropriately blaming their personal difficulties on homophobia.
Vellacott called for the removal of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) from the city, blaming them for an increase in health costs related to gambling addiction. His motion for a VLT plebiscite was defeated in May 1997.
Vellacott is a social conservative. He is a past co-chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, which includes Conservative and Liberal MPs. Vellacott supports young earth creationism and intelligent design.
In early 1997, Vellacott defeated Sam Dyck and Fred Wesolowski to win the Reform Party's nomination for Wanuskewin. Dyck later ran as an independent candidate against Vellacott in the 1997 federal election, arguing that Vellacott would try to "legislate morality" if victorious. Vellacott was nonetheless elected, amid a general gain for Reform in Saskatchewan. The Liberal Party won a majority government, and Vellacott served as a member of the Official Opposition.
Shortly after his election, Vellacott announced that he would introduce a Private Member's Bill to eliminate the national Court Challenges Program, which provides funding for groups that bring human rights cases before the Canadian courts. He argued that "some zealots" were "using our important tax dollars" for dubious ends via the program, and singled out an effort by Saskatoon resident Ailsa Watkinson to prohibit corporal punishment against children. Vellacott wrote an editorial piece in early 1998 describing Watkinson as a "social engineer" promoting an "extremist agenda", and accusing Canada's "unelected judges" of "judicial imperialism" in their interpretations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A supporter of Watkinson responded that Vellacott's piece was a "mixture of invective and innuendo", and argued that his defence of corporal punishment was based on flawed logic.
Vellacott supported other socially conservative initiatives. In late 1998, he brought forward a "conscience rights" bill to prevent nurses and doctors from being forced to perform abortions. He wrote an editorial against same-sex marriage the following year, arguing that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples because of its traditional role in the procreation and nurturing of children. He wrote that "homosexuals already have the right to marry, providing that -- like everybody else -- they marry someone of the opposite sex". He opposed granting spousal benefits for same-sex couples, describing supporters of the initiative as "activist liberal judges and a small but aggressive homosexual lobby".
In 1999, he criticized the Saskatchewan government's decision to force thirteen-year-old Tyrell Dueck into cancer treatment. Dueck's parents objected to continued cancer treatment at the Saskatoon cancer centre on the grounds that it did not appear to be working, and instead sought to access a more experimental treatment in Mexico. Vellacott supported parental discretion in such matters.
Vellacott also called for full compensation to Hepatitis C victims during his first term in Parliament, arguing that the government could overcome complicated legal issues around liability by issuing ex gratia payments.
Vellacott confirmed his support for Preston Manning's leadership of the Reform Party in 1998, after two other Saskatchewan Reform MPs called for a leadership review. He originally voted against the 1999 United Alternative initiative which led to the creation of the Canadian Alliance, but later changed his mind and supported it. In March 2000, he became the first Reform MP to endorse Stockwell Day's ultimately successful bid for the Canadian Alliance leadership. Vellacott said that he supported Day's "respect for life and his recognition of the family as the basic building block of society". He also defended the socially conservative Campaign Life Coalition during the campaign, after that organization was criticized for drawing attention to homosexual supporters of rival candidate Tom Long.
Canadian Alliance MP
Vellacott was re-elected by an increased majority in the 2000 election, as a candidate of the Canadian Alliance.
In January 2001, he argued that Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson had abused her office by sending a "best wishes" message to a newly married same-sex couple in Toronto. Clarkson's office responded that the letter was a personal courtesy, and was not a political statement.
Stockwell Day's leadership of the Canadian Alliance came under increased scrutiny in the summer of 2001, and several MPs called for his resignation. Vellacott remained a Day supporter, and described the critics as "backstabbers, hijackers (and) guerrillas". Day resigned late in the year, and declared that he would campaign to succeed himself in the following leadership contest. Vellacott again supported his candidacy. Supporters of rival candidate Stephen Harper criticized Vellacott for mailing out endorsements of Day through his constituency office, at public expense. Harper won the contest.
Vellacott continued to support socially conservative causes as a Canadian Alliance MP, and was a vocal opponent of embryonic stem-cell research in 2002, although he supports adult stem cell research. In the same year, he mailed out a controversial pamphlet opposing the addition of sexual orientation as a protected category under Canada's hate crimes legislation. Vellacott claimed the policy change "substantially interferes with the right of religious and education leaders to communicate essential matters of faith".
Also in 2002, Vellacott was the only MP to speak against a parliamentary motion recognizing an Armenian genocide as having occurred in 1915. He was quoted as saying:
- What the Turks so strenuously object to is the Armenian activists' one-sided portrayal of the tragic events to the world community and labelling them as genocide, using, in some cases, distortion or exaggeration of facts to further their political agenda of obtaining money and land from Turkey. While doing so, Armenians ignore the death and massacre of more than twice as many Turks at the hands of the Armenian revolutionary bands and the Russians whom they were helping during the First World War.
The Canadian Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003-04 to create the Conservative Party of Canada. Vellacott supported the merger, and endorsed Stephen Harper's successful campaign for the new party's leadership.
Vellacott won the Conservative nomination for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin in early 2004, defeating former Progressive Conservative Nick Bakker with 85% support. He faced a difficult challenge in the 2004 federal election from Chris Axworthy, a former federal New Democratic Party (NDP) MP and provincial NDP cabinet minister now running for the Liberals. Vellacott was returned with a reduced majority, as the Liberals won a minority government nationally.
After the election, Vellacott called for the trial of Saskatoon police officers Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen to be reopened. Munson and Hatchen had been convicted of abandoning an aboriginal man near a power station during freezing weather (the man in question did not suffer any injury). Vellacott said new evidence had been found, indicating that the officers dropped the man off within a short walking distance of where he told the officers he lived. He later established a defence fund for the officers. The case was not re-opened.
When the Saskatchewan judicial system approved same-sex marriages in 2004, Vellacott said it was "unfortunate that the Saskatchewan court has followed in the activist footsteps of other courts in this country". He later argued that marriage commissioners should have "conscience rights" to refuse to marry same-sex couples. During a 2005 rally, he said, "there is no such thing as a right to same-sex marriage".
Also in 2005, Vellacott called for legislation making it illegal to harm or kill the unborn children of mothers not planning to have abortions (such that killing a pregnant woman would constitute a double-murder). The suggestion won support from some, while others argued that it could eventually lead to restrictions on abortion.
When Belinda Stronach crossed the floor from the Conservatives to the Liberals in mid-2005, Vellacott suggested that she was prostituting herself for power and had "sold out for a cabinet position". Some criticized this as sexist, and Vellacott issued a "statement of regret" for his choice of words.
Vellacott was re-elected over Chris Axworthy a second time in the 2006 federal election, in a contest that was marked by extreme bitterness and controversy. During a live televised debate late in the campaign, a caller falsely suggested that Vellacott had been forced to leave North Park Church in Saskatoon after being accused of sexual assault on a church secretary. The call was subsequently traced to Axworthy's campaign headquarters. Axworthy described the allegations as "deplorable", and apologized to Vellacott for the situation. He denied that anyone in his office was put up to making the call, and suggested that a "mischief-maker" may have entered the office. Former long-term pastor Jerold Gliege indicated that Vellacott never served at or attended the church in question, which has been defunct since 1979.
Vellacott's campaign later produced an affidavit from Saskatchewan politician Tom Hengen, in which he "to the best of [his] knowledge and belief" named Axworthy campaign worker George Laliberte as the caller. Axworthy spoke to Laliberte, and reported that he vehemently denied making the call. Vellacott's lawyer later filed a defamation suit against Laliberte on March 22, 2006, in the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He won the lawsuit and was awarded $5000 in damages.
The national Conservative campaign accused the Liberals of a coverup, and called for Axworthy to withdraw from the contest. Axworthy declined, denying that he was responsible for any wrongdoing. Vellacott was re-elected with an increased margin of victory.
The Conservatives won a minority government in the 2006 election. Vellacott now sits as a government backbencher. In March 2006, he wrote an open letter supporting restrictions on abortion and calling for pregnant women to be informed of possible risks associated with abortion.
In April 2006, Vellacott attracted negative attention when he claimed that aboriginal people would travel to the outskirts of Saskatoon to drink in a shack around the same time that allegations surfaced that Saskatoon police were dropping off aboriginal people on "moonlight riders." Vellacott would admit that he never saw the existence of a drinking shack.
He was appointed to serve as chairman for the Commons' aboriginal affairs committee in April 2006. He attracted controversy one month later, after suggesting that Canadian judges consider themselves to have "god-like powers" when rendering their decisions. Vellacott claimed Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said that “when they step into this role [of supreme court justice] that suddenly there's some kind of mystical power that comes over them, which everything that they've ever decreed is not to be questioned." McLachlin, through a spokesperson, denied having made that comment. Vellacott later issued an apology, indicating that he did not intend to imply McLachlin had actually used the phrase "god-like powers". He added that he was alluding to comments made by McLachlin at a Lord Cooke Lecture, given on December 1, 2005 at the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. (Journalists noted that the "mystical power" quote does not appear in McLachlin's speech.) Vellacott also informed reporters that he regards judicial independence as a "fundamental aspect of a free and democratic society".
Vellacott resigned from his role as committee chairman following significant opposition from other parties. He now serves as a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment, and has called for the Canadian government to intervene against state-sponsored violence in the Darfur province of Sudan.
During his time in parliament, Vellacott has served as deputy critic for health, Human Resources Development Canada, and Indian Affairs. He has or has had involvement with several organizations, including the Canadian Club and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and is a supporter of Focus on the Family. He received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan in March 2006; both were automatic by virtue of being an elected Member of Parliament.
Vellacott was re-elected in the 2008 federal election.
In 2012, Vellacott nominated and awarded Queen's Jubilee medals to Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner, who had both been convicted of criminal offences related to their anti-abortion activism. Gibbons was arrested for repeated violations of injunctions against protesting in front of women's health clinics. Mary Wagner was serving time in jail for mischief and violating court orders regarding women's health clinics when she received her medal. When asked to comment on his decision to recognize these two women, Vellacott released a statement that referred to them as "heroines of humanity", and justified his decision by stating: "It's a pretty upside down world when we honour abortionists like Henry Morgentaler for killing over 5,000 babies and imprison precious women, like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who try to save babies from such savagery. They are the real heroes of humanity!" Vellacott's decision to bestow the Queen's Jubilee Medal on Gibbon and Wagner has been praised by pro-life groups such as the Campaign Life Coalition, and the Catholic Register. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae criticized Vellacott's statements as inciting anti-abortion activists to break the law, which is itself a criminal offence in Canada.
In 2013, Vellacott introduced Bill C560, an Act to Amend the Divorce Act and make shared parenting for children with separated parents the default outcome in courts, barring extraordinary circumstances. The bill was defeated at second reading.
|Canadian federal election, 2011: Saskatoon—Wanuskewin|
|New Democratic||John Parry||11,395||31.43||+7.07||–|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||36,256||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||134||0.37||+0.06|
|Canadian federal election, 2008: Saskatoon—Wanuskewin|
|New Democratic||Clint Davidson||7,898||24.36||+2.28||$20,679|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||32,420||100.00||$80,396|
|Total rejected ballots||100||0.31||+0.04|
|Canadian federal election, 2006: Saskatoon–Wanuskewin|
|New Democratic Party||Jim Maddin||7,939||22.09||+4.27||$35,098.35|
|Christian Heritage||Dale Sanders||307||0.85||-0.90||$1,552.99|
|Total valid votes||35,946||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||96||0.27||+0.03|
|Electors on the lists||53,513|
|Canadian federal election, 2004: Saskatoon–Wanuskewin|
|New Democratic Party||Priscilla Settee||5,770||17.81||-6.42||$38,635.22|
|Total valid votes||32,392||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||76||0.23||-0.03|
|Electors on the lists||54,366|
|Percentage change figures are factored for redistribution. Conservative Party percentages are contrasted with the combined Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative percentages from 2000.|
|Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
|Canadian federal election, 2000: Saskatoon–Wanuskewin|
|Canadian Alliance||Maurice Vellacott||17,404||52.57||+13.42||$59,707.59|
|New Democratic Party||Hugh Walker||8,022||24.23||-2.55||$34,545.31|
|Progressive Conservative||Kirk Eggum||1,709||5.16||-2.76||$0.00|
|Total valid votes||33,104||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||86||0.26||-0.08|
|Electors on the lists||53,862|
|Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
|Canadian federal election, 1997: Wanuskewin|
|New Democratic Party||Walter Kyliuk||8,793||26.79||$57,104|
|Progressive Conservative||Ron Meakin||2,602||7.93||$7,207|
|Natural Law||Patrick J. Coulterman||138||0.42||$61|
|Total valid votes||32,827||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||112||0.34|
|Electors on the lists||51,635|
|Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
|Saskatchewan general election, 1995: Saskatoon Mount Royal|
|New Democratic||Eric Cline||3,894||63.16|
|Progressive Conservative||Patrick Bundrock||488||7.92|
|Total valid votes||6,165||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||26|
|Electors on the lists||11,274|
All federal election information is taken from Elections Canada. All provincial election information is taken from Elections Saskatchewan. Italicized expenditures refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available.
- Peter Wilson, "Rookie MP learns to live in Ottawa", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 1 November 1997, C1.
- Official Maurice Vellacott website, "About Maurice" (accessed 27 March 2006).
- Alex Postnikoff, "Vellacott's changes confusing voters", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 2 April 2004, A10.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Political views consistent throughout career", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 21 April 2004, A12.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Creative thinking key to keeping health services", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 8 August 1996, A5.
- Betty Ann Adam, "[Saskatoon health district needs ...], Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 7 February 1997, A7.
- Betty Ann Adam, "Increased attendance at Gambler's Anonymous linked to VLTs", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 7 March 1997, A1.
- Dan Zakreski, "Health board rejects Saskatoon VLT vote", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 3 May 1997, A5.
- Lyons, "Disgruntled Reformer".
- Jason Warick, "Vellacott wants to end federal program that will pay for woman's battle against corporal punishment", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 24 December 1997, A1.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Courts wrong venue to settle spanking issue", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 22 January 1998, A5.
- Carol Schick, "Vellacott gets facts skewed", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 5 February 1998, A5. A Conservative Party government withdrew funding for the Court Challenges Program in 2006.
- "Anti-abortionists march in Ottawa", Calgary Herald, 15 May 1999, A14.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Same-sex marriages add to drain on treasury", Calgary Herald, 20 May 1999, A37.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Still enough time to let MPs know Bill C-23 unpopular", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 22 March 2000, A10.
- Betty Ann Adam, "Protesters lend support to Duecks", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 23 March 1999, A1. Dueck subsequently died, and many blamed his parents' decision not to accept treatment in Saskatchewan.
- Rosemary Spiers, "National Affairs", Victoria Times-Colonist, 28 April 1998, p. 1.
- Mark Wyatt and Murray Mandryk, "Reform MPs at odds over leadership vote", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 18 August 1998, A6.
- Joan Bryden, "Two more Reform MPs join chorus of UA dissenters", Ottawa Citizen, 6 April 1999, A9.
- James Parker, "Day's the man, say Sask. MPs", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 10 May 2000, A5. Vellacott's endorsement came minutes after Day declared his candidacy.
- Justine Hunter, "Day dares to mix volatile cocktail of social values, politics", National Post, 16 May 2000, A6.
- Robert Fife, "Canadian Alliance MP says it's OK for gays to work on campaigns - just don't give them special status", National Post, 26 May 2000, A7.
- "Clarkson's message was polite, not politics: Office", Toronto Star, 16 January 2001, 02.
- Darren Bernhardt, "Vellacott attacks `guerrillas' for sabotage attempt on Day", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 10 July 2001, A1.
- Tim Harper, "Day appeals to grassroots as he launches comeback bid", Toronto Star, 8 January 2002, A06.
- James Parker, "Sask. MPs join attack on Vellacott mailouts", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 5 March 2002, A4.
- Norma Greenway, "Anti-abortion forces rally to fight bill allowing stem cell research", Times-Colonist, 11 May 2002, A6.
- Thomas Knutson, "MP proves need for law he opposes", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 6 December 2002, A19.
- Bora Hincer, "Armenian 'genocide': Rewriting history for political gain", Kingston Whig-Standard, 6 June 2002, p. 8.
- Albert Kaprelian, "Those who deny genocide are real rewriters of history", Kingston Whig-Standard, 13 June 2002, p. 6.
- Sean Gordon and Tom Blackwell, "Alliance votes 96% to unite right", Ottawa Citizen, 6 December 2003, A3.
- "Vellacott wins nomination", Saskatoon Leader-Post, 21 February 2004, A2.
- "MP raps police conviction", Windsor Star, 12 August 2004, B7.
- Darren Bernhardt, "Vellacott establishes defence fund for ex-cops", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 27 August 2004, A1.
- Jason Warick, "Saskatchewan judge lifts gay-marriage ban", Time-Colonist, 6 November 2004, A8.
- Julie Saccone, "Marriage commissioner files complaint", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 29 January 2005, A4.
- Peter Kuitenbrouwer, "Thousands rally for marriage: Gay couples 'don't have capacity to reproduce'", Vancouver Province, 24 May 2005, A15.
- Lana Haight, "MP wants law protecting unborn from crime", Regina Leader Post, 22 July 2005, A4.
- Tim Naumetz, "Harper joins chorus of Tories with harsh words for Stronach", Ottawa Citizen, 18 May 2005, A4.
- Stephanie Classen, "Conservative MP offers 'regret' for comments about Stronach", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 24 May 2005, A4.
- Julie Saccone, "Tory MP outraged at sex assault allegation", Vancouver Sun, 20 January 2006, A5.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Axworthy caught second time practicing black arts of politics", campaign release, 19 January 2006.
- Tom Hengen, affidavit, 20 January 2006.
- Lori Coolican, "Dump candidate over false accusations", National Post, 21 January 2006, A5.
- "MP Maurice Vellacott wins defamation lawsuit". CBC News. February 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Tories demand Axworthy's ouster", Windsor Star, 21 January 2006, A6.
- Maurice Vellacott, "Time for limits", Calgary Herald, 10 March 2006, A25.
- http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/story.html?id=505b97fa-f1e7-4daf-9ede-4ff38aa594b0&k=60002 Vellacott Never Saw Shack
- Terry Weber, "Top court comments not those of government: Harper", Globe and Mail (Breaking News), 8 May 2006.
- "Supreme chief sees herself as just that", Montreal Gazette, 14 May 2006, A16.
- Sue Bailey, editorial, Canadian Press, 8 May 2006, 16:49 report.
- Tory MP resigns as committee chair, CBC News, 10 May 2006
- Mike Blanchfield, "MPs push for action on Sudan", Ottawa Citizen, 30 April 2006, A4.
- "About Maurice" (accessed 27 March 2006).
- CBC News http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/10/23/pol-anti-abortionists-queens-diamond-jubilee-medals.html
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- http://fairparenting.com/article/si-vis-pacem-para-pax Si Vis Pacem Para Pax Vellacott's Proposed Divorce Act Amendments