A few years ago I was watching a biography of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. They interviewed political friends and foes alike on the Little Guy’s political acumen. One of those interviewees was Stephen Harper. While no fan of Chrétien, Harper did talk about how impressed he was with how wily Chrétien had been on his election promise and subsequent flip-flop on axing the much-hated GST.
He made much ado about how Chrétien, while giving the impression while in opposition and on the campaign trail that he would cut the GST once elected, never actually said the words, in sequence, “Once elected Prime Minister I will abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST)”. Harper pointed out how Chrétien has uttered many variations on the theme “We hate it and we’ll cut it” while never specifying what ‘it’ was.
As all Canadians know, Chrétien did become Prime Minister and he did NOT, in fact, abolish the GST. He had never really said he would, Harper said. Not really.
I never forgot this grudging praise for such a slimy move from a political opponent. Oh, yes- the tactic made a big impression on our current Prime Minister back in the day. Harper is many things but he’s no dummy. He recognized the bait and switch as a stroke of political (deceptive) genius.
And he took notes.
Fast-forward to today. Federal election number 41 has delivered a majority Conservative government in Canada. The people have spoken. While it’s the outcome I predicted, it is most definitely not the outcome I had hoped for or that is good for Canada.
I want to find a silver lining (possibilities of electoral reform, of grassroots uprising, the death of apathy and uniting of the left) in all of this, because there is hope. Always. But right now, I need to feel out the dark spaces into which this election has forced me. I’m scared senseless and deeply, deeply sad. The Canadian electoral system, such as it is, has permitted the political party loaded (not entirely but disproportionately) with sexist, racist, misogynist, bigoted, contemptible, paternalistic, cynical and well, just plain mean MPs to win fair and square.
Good grief, MomForChoice! That’s awful.
As feminists and pro-choice advocates, what can we expect from this government in the next five years?
I’m glad you asked.
Back to Stephen Harper and his parliamentary education. We have heard him repeat time and time again, especially on the campaign trail, “As long as I am Prime Minister, we will not re-open the abortion debate.” Now think on what he learned from Chrétien’s GST deceit. What conclusion can we draw?
No, he or his whipped party member won’t re-open the abortion debate. In their minds, there is no debate! They oppose abortion. Period. Full stop. End of discussion that will never be had.
There will be no debate, but there will be legislated changes to abortion laws and laws governing access to reproductive services. They have a majority, now. They can do this.
Harper will not re-open the abortion debate. He said so himself.
I want to know what you think. Am I over-reacting? Am I fear-mongering? Will you join me in this fight to preserve women’s reproductive rights in this kick-ass country of ours?