The annual March For Life received more media attention than usual this year. Normally the media ignores the event completely.
Thursday though there was a tempest in the Ottawa teapot. A pro-life flag was raised over Ottawa City Hall. It was quickly removed. Accusations were hurled. The Mayor was blamed (he’s pro-choice and says he had nothing to do with it). Seven councilors signed a letter demanding the flag be removed immediately.
That’s what got me annoyed. I know most politicians in this city are pro-choice. That is fine. Abortion is not a municipal issue. They have the right to be wrong. And it is questionable if city policy should have allowed the flag to fly in the first place.
However, I get incensed at the ignorance some politicians exhibit when it comes to the law. In their letter the councilors state that “Safe access to abortion is a fundamental and constitutionally protected right enjoyed by all women in Canada.” They are wrong about that.
I have read our Constitution. More than once. We have four fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association. The word “abortion” is not in the Constitution. Apparently municipal politicians don’t know that.
I understand the roots of their ignorance, even if there is no excuse for it. In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Criminal Code sections dealing with abortion were unconstitutional. It invited Parliament to enact new laws.
At the time no-one expected Parliament would not do so. Lack of political will and leadership has left Canada with no laws regarding abortion. It would be quite legal to kill an unborn child while the mother was in labour. That idea appalls most people, but the mere suggestion that abortion should have some limits placed on it results in squealing from some very powerful lobby groups. Add to that a group of politicians who make jellyfish look like vertebrates and you have the current situation in our country.
But that doesn’t make abortion a constitutional right, much as some Ottawa city councilors wish it was. I suppose it is too much to hope that those in political leadership understand the laws of the land.
It is kind of scary when you think of it though. On this issue, as on so many others, it is the blind leading the blind. No wonder it feels like our nation, our society and our culture have fallen into a giant pit and we can’t find our way out.