I’ve written a few times about abortion. Each time I hesitated, concerned about provoking a backlash, since anger has become the default for handling policy disagreements in this brave new wired world. And abortion is the quintessentially emotional and contentious issue, on which even people of goodwill and some thoughtfulness can and do disagree vehemently.
But because my reach is so small, and because the folks who like the work I do on this blog are not typically given to vitriol, there’s never been a problem.
But now I have a problem. I’m as angry as I remember being about something the Canadian Federal Government is doing, and it relates to abortion.
The Prime Minister refers to it as a kerfuffle: This to describe the reaction to the Government’s decision to require organizations applying for grants under the Canada Summer Jobs Program to state that they agree with the Liberals’ position on what they call “reproductive rights,” to wit, abortion on demand.
Since 1988, Canada has had no abortion law.
In the present case, the structure
— the system regulating access to therapeutic abortions —
is manifestly unfair.
– Chief Justice Dickson
But the Supreme Court decision that struck down the then-existing law did not say that abortion on demand was a Charter right.
I don’t like abortion, especially sex-selection abortion and abortions after the point of viability. I believe that aligns with a majority of Canadians, but even if it doesn’t, I should be able to hold that point of view and to express it — politely, reasonably, without attacking anyone else — without any fear of reprisal from my Government. Even without being cut off from any taxpayer-funded program.
So should anyone, and any organization, be able to hold and to express an opinion contrary to the Liberals. That is an actual Charter right, as it turns out.
What the hell is the Government doing, requiring anyone – individual or organizational – to sign up to the governing party’s point of view on anything in order to access taxpayer-funded programs? Guys, it’s not your money: It’s ours. It’s not your government: It’s ours.
I hope I’d be as angry if the requirement were to formally acquiesce to a Government policy I agreed with. I hope I never need to find out. This should stop now.
This post is not about abortion.
If you have a National Post subscription, you can read more on this issue at the links below. For those who don’t, I’ve copied some of their salient points.
It’s clear Trudeau has overreached. He has achieved something few statesmen can boast about — unity among Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh organizations, albeit 100 per cent in opposition to him.
There is, presumably, some nervousness among his advisers that a sustained impasse could hit political support in communities that have, hitherto, been enthusiasts.
But such is the chauvinism on reproductive issues in Liberal circles, there is a refusal to believe in the legitimacy of any dissent from their orthodoxy.
There is a word for such behaviour – arrogance. It has killed Liberal governments in the past. It may do so again.
What shallow hubris engenders the sense that Mr. Trudeau, as through this both petty and profound intrusion he has, has the authority to undo the balance of citizens’ religious and moral beliefs and the political dispensations of a particular government? The Liberal platform of the day is not, as this government wildly seems to think, a synonym writ large for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But hey, it’s only a jobs program. Well, once started, why stop? Why stop at the grant-applying organizations? Why not question the students who are to get the jobs? Why shouldn’t they be asked to sign on the dotted line, tick the right boxes? Why shouldn’t they be asked as well if they endorse the Liberal readings on abortion, the carbon tax, diversity, NAFTA, refugee intake, the return of ISIL fighters?
On the principle underwriting the summer jobs policy, there is absolutely no logical reason why they should not be so interrogated and obliged.
Justin Trudeau keeps saying things like, “We are not limiting freedom of expression or freedom of belief in any shape or form. We are simply saying organizations with the explicit purpose of limiting and eliminating Charter rights like women’s rights do not qualify for government funding.” But the Charter does not protect unlimited abortion on demand.
People and organizations can oppose abortion and still be respectable, law-abiding citizens. It’s not clear whether the Prime Minister understands this distinction, or prefers to ignore it in favour of a less honest approach.
What Trudeau’s government is doing is to treat Liberal policy and pro-choice dogma as equivalent to Charter protection. It reflects the innate Liberal conceit that party policy inherently reflects national opinion, that if Liberals believe something, it must be right and true.
The effect of Trudeau’s position is to take federal funding and tie it to forced acceptance of Liberal beliefs.
One judge found a constitutional right to abortion in the early stages of pregnancy only: Madam Justice Wilson
Two judges found there was no constitutional right to abortion: Justices McIntyre and La Forest
Four judges found it unnecessary to decide whether a constitutional right to abortion exists: Justices Dickson, Lamer, Beetz and Estey