Monday, May 14, 2012

A very thin book: The Courage of Stephen Harper

What they say: "Mr. Harper, who has courted the vote of the social right, has given the more socially conservative members of his caucus wide latitude to express their opinions on such issues."

What they really mean: "They'll never be anything more than just opinions as long as Mr. Harper has any say." He's quite happy to have people think he's a Christian (although his biographical entry in the Canadian Parliamentary Guide has never mentioned any religious affiliation--in contrast to the entries of most MPs and Senators) and get the support of Christians (especially pastors), but he'll never do anything about the issues that are--or should be--most important to Christians.

As reported by Gloria Galloway in The Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 26, 2012 (updated May 10, 2012):

A motion by a backbench Conservative MP that aims to reopen the debate on abortion has been denounced by members of the opposition as well as senior members of his own party, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Stephen Woodworth, an Ontario Tory, wants the House of Commons to establish a committee to examine the section of the Criminal Code that declares babies to be human at the moment they have fully emerged from the birth canal.

In an impassioned speech to the House on Thursday evening, Mr. Woodworth said those who believe that a fetus becomes human at the moment of birth should have the courage of their convictions and be willing to expose them to an examination of the evidence.

But “most Canadians know that our existing definition dishonestly misrepresents the reality of who is a human being,” he said. “When you consider a child before birth, do you see a new human life with a beating heart and 10 human fingers? Or do you see the child as an object and an obstacle, even a parasite?”

Mr. Woodworth does not deny that his motion is an attempt to criminalize abortion. Canada has no laws to govern the procedure, and if a fetus is declared to be a human being, abortion foes could argue that killing it before birth would be tantamount to homicide.

Several other Conservatives agree with Mr. Woodworth’s efforts, but at this point, his motion would seem doomed to failure. Not only did the New Democrats and the Liberals oppose it, Mr. Harper and Conservative Whip Gordon O’Connor rejected it.

Mr. Harper said during the spring election campaign that a Conservative government would not bring forward legislation to restrict access to abortion and that any such legislation would be defeated. On Thursday he told the House that he considered the motion “unfortunate” and he would vote against it.

Mr. O’Connor delivered an even more blunt attack.

“I do not want women to go back to the previous era where some were forced to obtain abortions from illegal and medically dangerous sources. This should never happen in a civilized society,” he said. “I cannot understand why those who are adamantly opposed to abortion want to impose their belief on others by way of the Criminal Code.”

Mr. O’Connor’s statements followed indignant outcries from the opposition benches. François Boivin, a New Democrat from Quebec, said the motion frightened her to death. “Make no mistake about it,” she said, “this is a full-frontal assault on a woman’s right to choose.”

Hedy Fry, the Liberal health critic, asked if Mr. Woodworth would incarcerate women who wanted to have abortions to ensure that they carried their pregnancies to term. She accused the Prime Minister of allowing his MPs to do “through the back door” what he publicly opposes.

Mr. Harper, who has courted the vote of the social right, has given the more socially conservative members of his caucus wide latitude to express their opinions on such issues.

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