The Prime Minister at the World Economic Forum last week announced an initiative to put the health of mothers and children on the agenda at the G8 conference this summer.
Instead of cheering or at least giving an approving nod to a laudable policy topic, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff decided to make a rare pronouncement on policy. This time it was about abortion of all things.
Abortion has been a topic that is scantly discussed and rarely debated, if at all, within the realm of public policy in the last couple of decades. How it has come up now, represents an objectionable political goal for Michael Ignatieff. The Liberal leader is looking for a wedge.
To respond to politics, the Conservatives should consider responding politically. In this case, to neutralize the issue. Many Canadians feel strongly about the topic, but nothing but failure (for both sides) can come from playing politics with the issue.
Here’s what the Conservatives might say about Michael Ignatieff’s flirtation with abortion policy,
“Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t seem to realize that in the past 34 years, we Canadians closed the divisive debate on abortion in this country. This topic has split families and the debate has caused heartache for countless Canadians. We are saddened by Mr. Ignatieff’s attempt to reopen the topic for discussion and to callously use the philosophical debate over life and the exercise of reproductive rights as a political football to be tossed about carelessly.
Mr. Ignatieff we’ve moved past this. We will not allow you to bring the American-style politics of abortion to this country as a wedge issue to divide Canadians.
Canadians that we’re consulting these days are concerned about jobs and the economic recovery. While Mr. Ignatieff wants to hold university style seminar discussions about abortion, we’re focused on phase II of our Economic Action Plan.”
It should also be noted that the only leadership of any party to try and reopen the debate on abortion in recent memory has been that of the Liberal Party, mostly as a wedge issue to imply that the Conservatives have a hidden agenda on social issues. If merely revisiting the Canadian abortion debate is a slippery slope for pro-choice activists, why applaud Liberals when they keep bringing it up and condemn Conservatives for their non-agitation on the issue?
In reality, this move by Ignatieff reflects desperation. The abortion maneuver by Liberals is always done when the Liberals have nothing left to talk about. In this case, the Conservatives should deprive Ignatieff of oxygen on the issue and ignore it completely for the cheap attempt that it is.
“Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.” — LA Times
Arar is a case of rendition: the Torture Convention –Canada is a signator — forbids the rendition of anyone to confinement in a country where there is a reasonable chance that the person will be tortured. Arar claims he was tortured in Syria. But that’s not the only violation: the Americans can turn back a Canadian citizen to Canada, but surely have no right to deport him to a third country.
What I would like to see is obviously the United States government come clean with its version of events [Arar rendition], to acknowledge … the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case, particularly vis-a-vis its relationship with the Canadian government [Canada wants to hear that] these kinds of incidents will not be repeated in the future.”
Stephen Harper on same-sex marriage:
“I have no difficulty with the recognition of civil unions for non-traditional relationships but I believe in law we should protect the traditional definition of marriage.” — Stephen Harper interviewed by the CBC
For Liberals gay marriage is an equality issue. The [Liberal] government’s position gets the balance right. We will not compel religious communities to perform ceremonies that go against their beliefs, but we will not deny marriage rights to Canadians on grounds of sexual orientation.
“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix. … I am not somebody that promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions.
“As Posner and others have tartly pointed outif torture and coercion are both as useless as critics pretend, why are they used so much? While some abuse and outright torture can be attributed to individual sadism, poor supervision and so on, it must be the case that other acts of torture occur because interrogators believe, in good faith, that torture is the only way to extract information in a timely fashion. It must also be the case that if experienced interrogators come to this conclusion, they do so on the basis of experience. The argument that torture and coercion do not work is contradicted by the dire frequency with which both practices occur. I submit that we would not be “waterboarding” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — immersing him in water until he experiences the torment of nearly drowning — if our intelligence operatives did not believe it was necessary to crack open the al Qaeda network that he commanded. . Indeed, Mark Bowden points to a Time report in March 2003 that Sheikh Mohammed had “given US interrogators the names and descriptions of about a dozen key al Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting terrorist attacks.” We must at least entertain the possibility that the operatives working on Sheikh Mohammed in our name are engaging not in gratuitous sadism but in the genuine belief that this form of torture—and it does qualify as such—makes all the difference.”
“The Harper government knew prison conditions were appalling long before The Globe and Mail published a series of stories last April detailing the abuse and torture of prisoners turned over by Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan’s notorious secret police, documents released this week show.” — The Globe and Mail
“Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself … Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations.” — Michael Ignatieff on the Israel-Hamas conflict
“My view is that the United States’ special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction”
Stephen Harper on Israel:
[The] source of Israel’s strength and success, in my view, is its commitment to the universal values of all civilized peoples: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. …
… Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada, because, as the last world war showed, hate-fuelled bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all, and must be resisted wherever it may lurk.
In this ongoing battle, Canada stands side-by-side with the State of Israel, our friend and ally in the democratic family of nations. We have stood with Israel even when it has not been popular to do so, and we will continue to stand with Israel, just as I have always said we would.
I know that we all hope and pray that someday freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law will be a reality for all the peoples of the Middle East.
Stephen Harper on abortion:
“I will tell you that, as prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue of abortion” — Speech at 2005 CPC Policy Convention
Strong majorities of Canadians believe that while abortion should be rare, it should be a protected right for all women. … I am in politics to defend and develop this progressive achievement.”
Barack Obama on abortion:
“I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors, and their families and their clergy… When you describe a specific procedure [partial-birth abortion] that accounts for less than one percent of abortions that take place then naturally people get concerned, and I think legitimately so.” — Barack Obama
On Iraq, while I support the removal of Saddam Hussein and applaud the efforts to establish democracy and freedom in Iraq, I would not commit Canadian troops to that country. I must admit great disappointment at the failure to substantiate pre-war intelligence information regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president … But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion.
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.
He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.
I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. — Barack Obama, October 2nd, 2002
Citing the “wrong signal” it would send to Canadians to plead for mercy for convicted killers, the Conservatives said they would no longer attempt to convince the United States or other democratic countries to commute death sentences meted out to Canadians.
The government later said it would review such situations on a “case-by-case basis.” — Montreal Gazette
Canadians do not support capital punishment… I am in politics to defend and develop this progressive achievement.
Barack Obama on capital punishment:
“While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes — mass murder, the rape and murder of a child — so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment” — Barack Obama from The Audacity of Hope
OAKVILLE – Stephane Dion has challenged the Prime Minister to clarify his view on abortion, threatening to reignite the debate as Canada careens toward a fall election.
The Liberal leader issued his challenge to Stephen Harper while answering a question at a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in Oakville.
The event was billed as a discussion of Mr. Dion’s carbon tax plan, but a member of the audience instead asked his views on the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. The private member’s bill would make it a criminal offence to harm an unborn child during an attack on its mother.
Mr. Dion said he opposed the proposed legislation because it might infringe on women’s access to abortion.
“We need to protect everyone against crime, but, at the same time, it happens that I believe in the rights of women to choose and I have a lot of respect for the people who have a different view,” he told the crowd.
Mr. Dion then called upon Mr. Harper to state his own position on abortion.
And the latest in the Parliament Hill window series from Liberal MP Tom Wappel:
Is that a sign in Tom Wappel’s office? It looks familiar to another sign that sparked some controversy.
Is it really?
It is! Hooray for double standards!
Mr. Dion should ask some of his Toronto area MPs about their views. These photographs were taken today.
UPDATE: From Monday’s (8/25) Hill Times we learn that Tom Wappel took the sign from Rob Anders and put it up in his own window.
Re: “Tory MP Anders forced to remove ‘pro-life’ from East Block window” (The Hill Times, July 14, p. 1). Your article really intrigued me, as, in my 20 years as a Member of Parliament, I have never heard of a policy regarding what can or cannot be put in the window of Parliamentarians’ offices.
So I did a little digging. I contacted the Speaker’s office, the Sergeant-at-Arms Office, Canadian Heritage, the House Accommodation Services Office, and the Conservative Whip’s Office. Guess what? There is no policy!
Since there are signs in numerous other windows which were there before Mr. Anders removed his, and which are still there (e.g. “Veterans for Obama ’08 in the Confederation Building), I wanted to know why Mr. Anders’ sign (“Defend Life”) had been singled out for attention and removal. It turns out it was because someone had complained about it. Why? Since other signs remain in windows, it is clear that there have been no complaints about other signs. Thus the complaint has to be not about a sign in a window, but about a sign in a window which was assumed to be a pro-life sign in a window.
Well, I am proud to be pro-life. Being so is not a criminal offence (yet). Expressing my pro-life views is not illegal (yet). What can be more fundamental in the very seat of our democracy than our Charter cherished freedom of expression?
So, I have borrowed Mr. Anders’ innocuous sign and put it in my window in East Block, and there it will stay.
… — Tom Wappel
Why is Wappel free to express his views while Anders was rebuked? The Conservative “hidden agenda” narrative is ready to be resurrected by the media at a moment’s notice. It was a Liberal senate staffer that complained about the sign. What is her opinion of Wappel’s ability to express his opinion on the issue?