The Pro-life Alberta Political Association's History
Here you will find the best possible history that APAH can find regarding the Pro-life Alberta Political Association. As is noted throughout the history, but we feel the need to repeat - we apologize that this history is not as detailed as the histories of other parties. We are actively working to find more information so that Albertans can be educated about every party, but unfortunately, the party has not made much information publicly available. We will update this as soon as we can.
The Pro-life Alberta Political Association is a bit of an oddity in Alberta politics - while the objective of the party might be pretty self-explanatory, its origins are a bit unusual. The party is actually the former Social Credit Party - a party that governed Alberta from 1935 to 1971 and existed as that party from 1935 until 2017, when the name was changed from the Social Credit Party of Alberta to the Pro-life Alberta Political Association. However, the party itself began changing directions the year before, when anti-abortion activists took over the party at the annual general meeting.
Considering the odd history of the party and the abrupt change in its direction in recent years, this history will largely focus on the last few years, as those are what really need to be looked at with this party - this history of the Socred Party going back to its origins in the 1930’s isn’t really relevant to the PAPA in the way that, say, the origins of the NDP going back to the CCF and UFA is. Think of the relationship between the Socreds and the Pro-life Association like buying an old car, replacing every single part over a couple years, and giving it a new paint job - in theory, it’s the same car, but in practice it’s so different that what it used to be or what used to be in it isn’t really relevant when describing the car anymore.
Lastly, before getting into the history, this is a disclaimer that information about the Pro-life Association isn’t exactly readily available - APAH will try its best to include everything that can be included about this organization and their history, but the Pro-life Association has not made many details clear. As well, since the party essentially came out of nowhere on the political scene, it’s hard to infer much about the party from its origins. Because of the party’s priorities, some of this history will also include relevant information on pro-life activism. It cannot be stressed enough that every effort has been made to make this neutral and present the information in a way that is informative but unbiased - the intent is to give Albertans a background and history for the Pro-life Alberta Political Association, and not support or denounce any political philosophy or ideology. With all of this in mind, please know that it is APAH policy that these histories are constantly updated with new information as it’s made available, and we will actively be keeping an eye on this party to make sure that when new information is made available just like with every other party.
With all of that established, it’s time to get into the short history of the Pro-Life Association. Prior to the takeover in 2016, the Socreds had been struggling for decades. After losing to the Progressive Conservatives in 1971, the party never regained momentum, steadily dropping until it lost its last remaining seat in 1982. Since then, the party hasn’t won a single seat and - outside of a brief resurgence under Randy Thorsteinson in 1993 and 1997, has failed to get more than 1.22% of the vote in any election. In the 2012 and 2015 elections, the party hit historic lows for the Socreds and gotten less than a thousand total votes each time - and since 2008, the party has not nominated more than ten candidates in an election.
All of this led to 2016 - after decades of languishing around the bottom of Alberta’s political system, people had largely stopped paying attention to the party. There were still members and supporters, but at some point, they became vulnerable enough that the party’s 2015 nominee for the Highwood riding - a pro-life activist named Jeremy Fraser - was able to overthrow the leader of the Socreds, Len Skowronski. Skowronski called it an “invalid takeover”. Fraser put out a message on Facebook shortly before the meeting reminding pro-life party members to come to the meeting and pointing out that memberships could be purchased at the door - as a pro-life activist, this was a call to party members but also to the non-party members who followed him as an activist but weren’t a part of the party yet who could come and sway the party firmly in favour of pro-life causes.
It’s important to note that in recent history Alberta - and, in fact, Canada - have had relatively little representation of dedicated pro-life politicians holding either provincial or federal office. There are no federal restrictions on abortion, but every province has its own standards and they can vary significantly, especially between private and public facilities. However, the trend in politics has typically been to lessen legal restrictions. Many parties both within the province and federally are either pro-choice or unwilling to commit to being pro-life - every major federal party falls into this camp (the Christian Heritage Party is the self-titled only openly pro-life federal party, but since it’s never elected a single MP, it’s also not done much for pro-life activists as far as legislation goes). In Alberta as well, while certain politicians and leaders have been pro-life, no recent major party has been actively pro-life or made restricting abortions a major part of their party platform, nor enacted significant pro-life legislation while forming government.
As a result, many pro-life activist groups have been feeling like their demands have gone unanswered and that their representatives weren't willing to listen to their priorities. Fraser capitalized on the feeling of disenfranchisement among pro-life people and welcomed them to a party that would support their philosophy. With the pro-life activists who came to the annual general meeting, Fraser was able to overthrow the remaining Socred executive and members to stack the party executive with pro-life activists and replace Skowronski as leader.
A year later, in 2017, the Social Credit Party of Alberta was officially renamed the Pro-life Alberta Political Association. In August of 2018, Fraser was replaced as leader by the party’s president, Murray Ruhl, in an uncontested leadership race.
Unfortunately, relatively little is known about Murray Ruhl - or, in fact, the party’s plan for 2019. APAH is working to learn more about Ruhl and his party to complete this history, but as of writing, the information simply isn’t out there - the Pro-life Association’s website has no information on candidates, Ruhl, or the party platform. PAPA has issued no press releases or had any advertising campaigns. Ruhl’s information (such as a picture or a biography) is not available on party sites and has not otherwise been found to include here, and the party’s most recent annual financial disclosure forms (from 2017) reveal that the party only spent five hundred dollars throughout the year, and had a total annual revenue of just four cents.
APAH sincerely apologizes for not having more information available here for this party, but would like to again emphasize that we are working to get more information as soon as we can. The lack of information here is in no way meant to be reflective of an attempt to sabotage the Pro-life Association. If anyone has information on the party that they feel needs to be included, please feel free to contact us.