What’s next? Promoting abortion?
OTTAWA — Stephen Harper is ruling out re-opening a debate over abortion law for a future Conservative government, saying today there are too many other important issues to manage.
“We have a lot of challenges in front of the country,” the Conservative leader said this morning during an announcement about arts and fitness funding for children.
“We have a difficult world economy as we all know. That has to be the focus of the government and I simply have no intention of ever making the abortion question a focus of my political career.”
He said that some of his caucus members would like him to do so, and so would some Liberals: “But, I have not done that in my entire political career. Don’t intend to start now.”
“I have been clear throughout my entire political career I don’t intend to open the abortion issue,” he said. “I haven’t in the past; I’m not going to in the future.”
Andrea adds: I never had any expectation of Harper on abortion, something I’ve publicly stated before. What bothers me is this:
After today’s event, however, Mr. Harper’s spokesman Kory Teneycke clarified in an email to The Globe and Mail that Mr. Harper would “whip” his front bench so that none of his cabinet ministers would support any private member’s bills that could re-open the debate.
Whipping his cabinet? Ah, freedom of speech, apparently such a tenuous concept that even the party that was supposed to not be like the Liberals is, well, just like the Liberals. Get ready for some splashy new fountain to appear in Harper’s riding, maybe a small golf course… At least Chretien never pretended to be decent.
Rebecca asks: How has it come about, that we can’t even have a debate about this? Are feminists and “choice advocates” so insecure in their convictions that they fear an honest discussion? (And if so – what does this tell us?) Is there any other issue about which so many Canadians disagree, that is nonetheless off-limits politically in all parties?
Andrea is trying to think positive: At least he has not said the dreaded “I believe in a woman’s right to choose,” those special words that mean in point of fact that a politician has never given abortion any thought at all and is rather running scared from the likes of Judy Rebick.
Véronique adds: I’ll just say that I’m glad my Conservative candidate is pro-life: I can still vote for him even if the party at large is now officially pro-choice. About the matter of conscience and the issue of “whipping” your cabinet, nobody said having convictions was going to be easy: ask Michael Chong who gave up his seat in cabinet because he didn’t support the “Quebec as a nation” motion (wow, that’s snappy, I should write a song). I think that any cabinet minister with a backbone would rather resign — or refuse a seat in cabinet to start with — than being told what to vote on such an important issue.
Tanya has to say it: We all can’t fight every battle all the time. In my mind, Harper won’t win any election with pro-life guns-a-blazing. And then where would we be? Slow and steady wins the race. He’s setting the pace for eventual Conservative majority government in this country.
In the meantime, we need to keep up the dialog. We need to make sure no one gets away with calling this a closed debate. That being said, Harper, you don’t need to “open the abortion issue.” It’s already open. So please find some new wording for the arms length you choose to keep with it.