It’s the issue that won’t go away, the one most Canadian politicians try to ignore. No matter what position they take, some of the electorate are certain to be extremely opposed. That’s not good when you are looking for people’s votes.
I have, when writing about the current Canadian federal election, tried not to let my biases seep in. I have talked about the system and the processes rather than start analyzing the parties and their platforms. The reason for that is simple. I work for a Member of Parliament. That makes me somewhat partisan; my words could be considered biased. No matter how well founded my criticism, it will be seen by some as tainted by my concern for current and future employment, despite my attempts at objectivity..
That said, I am going to address a specific issue and a specific candidate today, one who managed to annoy me not for his position but for his misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the law.
The issue is abortion. The candidate is David McGuinty, Liberal Member of Parliament for Ottawa South, the riding where I live. He’s running for re-election and statements I heard him make on the radio this week guaranteed he won’t get my vote this time.
Abortion is not a hot-button issue for me, though it is for many Canadians. The four major parties are in agreement that they don’t want to change Canada’s non-law on the subject, that they don’t want to re-open the debate. On abortion therefore they are all the same, so it is other issues that determine which party I will support. So what upset me when McGuinty spoke about abortion? It wasn’t the party policy. It wasn’t the platform. It was that I saw his answer as delierately misleading. That sounds politer than calling it stupid.
The question came at the end of a call-in show featuring McGuinty as the Liberal party representative. The abortion issue was settled, he proclaimed, because abortion is a “Charter right.”
If you aren’t Canadian you may not know that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of our Constitution, adopted in 1982, that spells out basic rights all Canadians hold in common. The word abortion is not mentioned. Mr. McGuinty, a lawyer before entering politics is surely well aware of that.
Canada does not have any laws regulating abortion. In 1988 the Supreme Court struck down the sections of the Criminal Code dealing with abortion and invited Parliament to introduce new legislation on the subject. It did not declare abortion to be a “Chart right.” It specifically asked the legislature to do its job and take the matter under consideration. That successive Parliaments have failed to do so speaks volumes about the courage and duty of our legislators, but it still does not make abortion a right.
I don’t want someone as a Member of Parliament, as a lawmaker, who is so flippant about what the law is. Maybe Mr. McGuinty feels the issue is too complex for the average person, so he simplified his response to the point of saying something untrue. If so, shame on him. It seemed more to me though to show a certain amount of arrogance. He attempted to twist the law to agree with his party platform; the law is what he says it is. That is no way to run a country.
Or maybe that is my bias showing and it is perfectly all right for a Parliamentarian to misrepresent the law to bolster his agenda. You be the judge.