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Donald Pennell is a political and religious activist in Ontario, Canada. He was the first leader of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, and has campaigned as a candidate for political office on several occasions.
He first ran for political office in the 1975 Ontario provincial election, as a Liberal Party candidate in Burlington South . He lost to Progressive Conservative incumbent George Kerr by just under 6,000 votes.
Pennell was a leading figure in founding the Family Coalition Party in 1987. This party was initially an extension of Campaign Life , an anti-abortion group based in Ontario. Pennell was chosen as the party's first interim leader, and subsequently as its first full-time leader. In addition to promoting a pro-life position on abortion, the FCP also promoted socially conservative views on other issues: in 1987, Pennell told a Toronto Star reporter that homosexuality was "against God's law". Pennell, who was 49 years old at the time of this election, also argued that voters were being called to make a choice between "Christ and barbarism".
Pennell ran in Burlington South as an FCP candidate in the 1987 Ontario election, and placed a distant fourth with 1,125 votes. He ran in the same riding in the 1990 election, and received 1,707 votes amid a minor increase in support for his party. He also contested a 1992 by-election in Brant—Haldimand , and received 2,056 votes.
In the 1995 provincial election, Pennell ran against sitting Premier Bob Rae in the Toronto riding of York South. The result was the worst showing of his career: he received only 305 votes, for a very distant fourth place. He stepped down as leader of the Family Coalition Party in 1997, and was replaced by Giuseppe Gori.
In the 2000 federal election, Pennell ran as a candidate of the Canadian Alliance in Burlington , provoking some political observers to express surprise that the former leader of a minor party would be allowed to stand for Canada's official opposition. Pennell received a career high of 11,500 votes, but still finished almost 11,000 votes behind the winner, Liberal Paddy Torsney. Ironically, Torsney had worked as a volunteer on Pennell's 1975 campaign.
He remained an advisor to the Family Coalition Party after resigning as leader, and helped select candidates for the 1999 provincial election.
Pennell has also been involved in a number of conservative Roman Catholic organizations. He now lives in Fort Erie, Ontario as the communications and public relations director of The Fatima Center, a devotional group based around the purported miracles in Portugal's Fatima Shrine. In 2004, he criticized a Hindu group for conducting a service on the shrine grounds.
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