22 January 2006

I'm not going to beat a dead horse too badly here, but I was watching some of CBC's "Your Turn with Paul Martin" tonight. One of the questions regarded Martin's spur-of-the-moment idea to revoke the notwithstanding clause, and whether Martin actually supported the undemocratic idea of giving nine non-elected judges the authority to overrule the elected legislature without any possibility of Parliament being able to check that power. Martin's response: "Absolutely." Then he proceeded to drag out the abortion issue, because apparently the Harper folks have a "road map" to bring in legislation, and I'm firmly tongue-in-cheek here after reading Ann Coulter's recent column, to remove a woman's right to have sex with men they don't especially like. Now, I'm quite progressive on a lot of things, and I've stated in published comments that I'm in favour of same-sex marriage, but I'm personally opposed to abortion, and I know that a lot of other people in this country are too, including at one point in his life before he thought public opinion was in favour of abortions, Paul Martin. That said, the law is the law, and the Conservatives have no actual agenda to make overturning this law a priority. It's a ridiculous debate in the United States, to the extent that Roe v. Wade is the litmus test for whether or not a Supreme Court nominee will be approved/rejected by the Democrats/Republicans, and I really, truly hope that Canada can avoid turning its politics into that type of grotesque political theatre.

How is it that a man who once committed to eliminating the democratic deficit and making Parliament the setting for "the great debates" of Canadian public policy say such a thing? First, his newfound preference for judicial supremacy is based exclusively on the implication that the Conservatives will remove rights to same-sex marriage and abortion. The latter concept is bunk, since at this time its status in law is purely in legislation passed by Parliament, not the Constitution or the Charter of Rights. Laws can be repealed, and there is no necessary connection between abortion rights and Charter rights. Frankly, I don't believe that holding the right to killing the unborn should be on the same level as the right to freedom of expression. Second, a parliamentary debate on abortion is hardly within the confine of what I would consider to be "great." Perhaps it's because I don't really devote that much of my time to social/moral issues of this nature, and would rather talk about things like Canada's place in the world or how to best make this country great. I don't see how a debate on abortion contributes to either of those things. I'm glad that Harper has said that abortion is not on the agenda, and I truly hope that he sticks to that pledge after he is elected on Monday.

Update: apparently today (Sunday) is the "anniversary" of the Roe v. Wade decision, and just to give you an idea of how important an issue it is in the U.S., the NY Times has no less than 4 articles and op-eds about it, and that's just what I got in my morning news email.

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