Stephen Harper Will Not Re-Open the Abortion Debate and Why That Scares the Crap Out of Me

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.

I know!

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?

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Voter Apathy? No Frickin’ Wonder.

I am an Acadian woman. Acadienne and damn proud of it. I eat fricot and chiard and I talk trash and I cry every time I listen to Zachary Richard. That means I am a francophone living outside of Québec. While I am loathe to describe myself via a negative, here goes nothing: I am NOT Québecoise. Are we all perfectly clear on that point?

Good.

Our country is in the midst of an election campaign and this past week saw the leaders of the four federal parties duke it out in televised national debates. True to Canada’s linguistic make-up (as dictated by our Constitution but not reflective of languages that were here prior to European colonization) there was a debate in English and a debate in French. They dubbed the latter “the French-language debate”.

Oh, really?

The questions brought forth in each debate came from Canadian citizens. I don’t know how they were vetted by the journalists in charge of the debate. I do know, however, that the English-language debate fielded questions from across the country. I also know that the French-language debate featured questions from residents of – wait for it- Québec only. Nothing from Acadie, Franco-Ontario, Métis, Franco-Manitoba…I could go on but you get the idea:  NOTHING.

*screams primally*

How the hell is that acceptable in a French-language debate? How do you justify excluding an entire swath of the country’s population in favour of the province whose residents repeatedly and in great numbers tell us that they want no part of that very country?! Just sayin’.

*bangs head against wall*

But we do know why, don’t we? All the francophone communities outside Québec put together cannot possibly affect the results of the election one way or another. The same as tuition fee hikes don’t matter because students don’t tend to vote in great numbers. The same as there aren’t enough informed and engaged women to rally against the Harper government’s assault on women’s equality programming. The same as how Métis, First Nations and Inuit continue to struggle with poverty, inadequate housing, food insecurity and unsafe drinking water: there aren’t enough of them to make or break anyone’s political aspirations and the rest of Canadians are too bigoted to care, anyway.

It’s a game of numbers. I understand that. And I hate everything about it.

No wonder people are apathetic. Every time we turn around we’re being told by our so-called leaders and our complicit media that we simply do not matter.

So, here’s an idea oh-holy-media-consortium-that-sets-the-rules-for-these-debates: how’s ‘bout next time you call the French-language debate what it really is? The Québec debate.

If I don’t matter to you or to this ever-decaying democratic process, just tell me. At least then I could respect you for being honest and I could tune out for once and for all.

*slams door*

(Well, it’s a virtual slam of a virtual door, but you know what I’m getting at)