Catholic Social and Political Activism

How Colonel Sanders Ruffled Dalton's Feathers

by John Pacheco

Four o'clock rolled around. I had just finished preparing for my debate - going over my opening and closing statements, practicing my enunciations and the emphases I wanted to place in certain parts of my opening comments. Tonight was the night. I had to hit McGuinty hard. I was sick and tired of the soft approach to politicians who prostitute the Catholic faith for political brownie points while stepping on its most cherished moral beliefs - not the least of which was the sanctity of human life. I intended to tell Mr. McGuinty that and that's what I did.

I sat down in front of a picture of the Mother of God and I prayed. I asked for her intercession. I asked for all of the saints in heaven to pray for me. I asked for one thing: give me the courage to say what I have to say. United in the body of Christ where there is no separation, all of those prayers by the saints in heaven and the saints on earth came through in unbelievable fashion and in many ways. But that is another story.

My whole focus on the debate was to get under McGuinty's skin in the first 5 minutes during my opening remarks. The NDP candidate, James McLaren, was first to speak. He had a very nice and gentle opening first five minutes. I was next. The atmosphere changed from Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood to ACT UP Central. I got right down to business, bellowing:

This provincial election is really about ONE central issue: preserving the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. .

And boy, did I ever get a reaction. Click here to read my opening comments and the reactions to them.

After that, the gloves were off and it was World War III for the remainder of my opening comments. The moderator had to intervene many times between the Liberal drones on the one side and FCP supporters and other conservatives on the other side. During a few times during the debate, I had to pull in the microphone and speak a little bit louder :)

Throughout the question and answer period, I drew McGuinty's attention and his contempt. He did not like the fact that I pointed out his father's political integrity and McGuinty Senior's stellar pro-life and pro-family public witness. Comparisons are inevitable, you see. And Mr. McGuinty falls very short on both counts. On at least two occasions, and totally unexpectedly, Mr. McGuinty referred to his father and my reference to him. I was pulling some chains inside, and scoring some big irritation points.

As the evening wore on, McGuinty and I exchanged shots. At one point during the evening, someone asked about diversity and sexual orientation. Perceiving my opportunity to set the record straight, I told everyone this:

"Let make it perfectly clear that my campaign is NOT about hate. All persons - with homosexual inclinations or otherwise - have an irrevocable, inherent dignity before God because we were all created in His image. No one is entitled to attack human dignity. However, that does not mean that every expression - sexual or otherwise - upholds or magnifies that dignity. What our opponents and Mr. McGuinty needs to understand is that sometimes saying no to a person is the greater act of love."

It got mixed reaction. The drones droned and the thinking people clapped. McGuinty, coming fresh off of the Leader's debate where he accused Premier Eves of showing us his "ponies" and offering a "big fat juicy steak", was not to be out finessed in his vocabulary this evening. Instead of steak, he drew into his Kentucky Fried Chicken dictionary and let this egg drop: "Saying the Family Coalition Party is open to diversity is like Col. Sanders saying 'I'll take care of the chickens.'" And the drones just ate it up. But the rest of the crowd shrugged and thought to themselves how this man came to be the Leader of the Liberal Party. Then they remembered Jean Chretien, and that explained much.

During a question on mental health, I laid out my position which really was based on common sense:

"Strong families lessen problems in many areas of society: marital separations, child abuse, teenage rebellion leading to alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, runaways, school drop-outs, vandalism, theft and violence.

The Gentleman who chaired the Ottawa-West debate last week described how his son was brutally assaulted. He described the neighbourhood as ground zero for criminal activity including vandalism, car theft, Robberies and drug dealing.

Here's the message folks. It's not complicated: fix the family and you will see most of these problems disappear."

Education was also a very hot topic during the debate. Many constituents came forward and expressed their desire for education tax credits. McGuinty, a man who is clearly out of touch with reality, kept insisting that these credits were for the "rich". Yet all of the people who addressed this question were middle-class. One gentleman who wanted to have this option was employed as a civil servant making $38,000 per year! This gentleman wanted to know why he could not educate his children with his own tax dollars. McGuinty mumbled something about inclusiveness and strengthening the State's grasp over schools. When my turn came around at addressing this question, I let Dalton have it:

"Mr. Eves said it well at last night's debate: 'Mr. McGuinty still doesn't get it.' Education tax dollars belong to these people, Mr. McGuinty, and not YOU. The ultimate right and responsibility of education rests with parents. Should parents choose to delegate that responsibility to the State, that is their decision and the State should accommodate their preference. However, the decision on where children are educated and who educates them ultimately resides with the parents."

When the issues of class sizes came up, McGuinty defended his position to cap class sizes. I shot back:

"Mr. McGuinty, I think we should let the specialists have a say on the viability of your plan. Terry Sinzer, a spokesman for the Upper Canada School Board: 'If that kind of hard cap were instituted, with our current enrollment situation, for teacher salaries alone, our costs would increase by $6.05 million.' The chairman of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Mr. Joseph Carnevale, was very critical of the plan. He said it was not feasible and too expensive. He also accused Mr. McGuinty's advisor Mr. Warren Kinsella of trying to muzzle him. As an aside, I guess that's just another example of Liberal democracy in action, folks.

Try our plan. People will yank their kids in droves and then you won't have any more problem with class sizes."

Another gentlemen of Middle Eastern descent wondered why the Catholic School system should be given financial incentives while other faith minorities are not allowed even modest tax breaks. Sensing my opportunity to score against McGuinty's "Kennedy" Catholicism, I commented...

"Sir. I am Roman Catholic. And when I say I am Roman Catholic, I mean it. I don't know if you are or not. But regardless, I would favour allowing you to educate your children according to your own values instead of those values forced on the province's families by Mr. McGuinty."

The debate continued in like fashion until it was time for closing comments. I decided to keep it rather short and address the erosion of freedom and religion in this country. It was generally well received. Click here to read my final remarks for the evening.

Here are some comments from various supporters about the debate and its aftermath:

"Just wanted to applaud you for your tremendous performance last night. You were great, and most of all you were a powerful witness. I want to thank you for being such a bold witness to your faith. I can't help but be inspired seeing a story comparable to those I've read in the Lives of the Saints unfold before my eyes. Only the Holy Spirit could author such a story."

"While leaving the debate last night, just outside the doors were three older gentlemen who had just pulled out their umbrellas. This is what I overheard them say: G1:"How about that Family Coalition guy eh? Wasn't that impressive now?" G2: "Hell ya, he was unbelievable." G3: "Yes, very impressive indeed". Looks like you've got a few new fans!"

"My husband Justin and I went to the debate last night in Ottawa South to support John Pacheco who is running for the Family Coalition Party against Daltin McGuinty. I know Jesus was beaming at his son last night. John was making Him very proud. Even though John was subject to many boos from the crowds, John proudly stated his convictions with regards to the sanctity of marriage and the injustice of abortions among many other issues but not as important as those two. I pray that the Lord bless John richly for his stepping out in faith as he did last night and is known to do always."

"A brief interview on CFRA last night (11:00 news) had one spectator saying that he was impressed "with the Family Party candidate's passion". Another fellow in the hall (during the debate), speaking to someone on a cell-phone, mentioned to his conversation partner that "the Family Party guy is constantly haranguing (spelling?) Dalton...the debate is so much more lively than the leaders' debate"."

"Two young guys (one admitting he was homosexual, I suspect the other was too, perhaps 16-20 years old) dropped by the table and were honestly trying to understand why a group would be so adamant in condemning that sexuality as a major campaign issue. Yet he admired how you were taking the heat more than any of the other candidates for expressing what you believed in, and seemed wholly respectful of the democratic process for you to say this (it seemed as if no one had ever told him that homosexuality was a wrong thing)."

"One atheist woman seemed quite disturbed that individual rights were being trumped. "Don't atheists have rights?" A Chinese couple praised you for being faithful in proclaiming the truth. "One senior black woman said for you to just keep up what you were doing...that you were doing a fine job and that she shared many of your values." "Two men in their 50's, perhaps Lebanese, came out really interested in the Family Coalition Party and wanted to know more." "A young Arabic man really was impressed, and wanted you to know that you did a good job.

"Just wanted to let you know that you did an AWESOME job last night. You are an inspiration to Pierre and I (by the way Pierre says a lot of good things about you and really admires you). We need more people to be bold like you. It even made me reflect (probably many others too) on how I could be bolder with others and be less fearful when it comes to faith. Anyways, you spoke really well and made a positive impression on many people there. When Pierre and I left, there were three men conversing outside and we overheard a few words. They said something like "Who was that man from the Family Coalition Party?...John Pacheco...He was very impressive...yes, very impressive, very impressive." (They kept repeating that). :) SO WAY TO GO! Keep on doing what you do and don't ever give up no matter what!"

"I was surprised at the number of people who applauded you, especially your opening statement. I was late because I got stuck in traffic, and I entered the hall just as you were wrapping up and your were saying something opposing same-sex "marriage". I watched CJOH news coverage today, and the reporter said, verbatim, that the loudest boos were reserved for you for your "pro-life anti-gay stance". In fact, from my end, the applause for you sounded as loud as the opposition's. I was quite surprised at how many people applauded you-- it couldn't have only been FCPers, there had to have been some Tories and independents applauding as well. I was afraid I was going to be only one of, say, five people applauding you, but you had at least 10-15 people on your side all the time, often more. The room was packed with Liberal supporters. This is was not a non-partisan crowd.