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Universities fail to uphold freedom of expression

Below in an article by John Carpay, taken from Pages 5 and 7 of The Lawyers Weekly article, 29 October 2010.


The arrest of five pro-life students at Carleton on October 4, 2010 is a repudiation of the university’s mission is to pursue truth, which necessarily requires vigorous debate and uncensored speech.  Yet students Ruth Lobo, James Shaw, Nicholas McLeod, Zuza Kurzawa and Craig Stewart were handcuffed and driven off in paddy-wagons while attempting to set up their pro-life display on a prominent place on Carleton’s campus, in an area where numerous other student groups have been allowed to express their views freely.

Carleton asserts that “the students were in no way denied the opportunity to express their views or to mount their exhibit.”  But Carleton expressly refused to allow the pro-lifers to use the same well-travelled location on campus (Tory Quad) which other Carleton students are allowed to use to express their views.  This past August, Carleton official David Sterritt told pro-life students that they could not set up their display outdoors because “the Genocide Awareness Project uses promotional materials which are disturbing and offensive to some.”  Carleton offered the pro-lifers an inconspicuous indoor space (Porter Hall) which has no walk-through traffic.

Would Carleton deny a prominent place on campus to gay or Muslim students, just because some people might find their speech offensive?  If other groups wanted to use disturbing photos to expose the injustice of spousal assault, genocide in Darfur, cruelty to animals, or impaired driving, would Carleton limit those groups to an out-of-the-way place?

The Carleton pro-life students could have accepted the university’s discriminatory offer to allow them to set up their display where few would see it.  But like Rosa Parks rejecting a second-class bus ride, these students defied the university’s attempt to appoint itself the arbiter of which views are acceptable enough to be proclaimed openly, and which views can only be expressed in a back room.  As one of the arrested students, Nicholas McLeod, explained it: “The point of a protest is for people to see it.  Limiting an exhibit to an inside room is like telling Martin Luther King that he couldn’t march through white neighbourhoods.”

Like Carleton, the University of Calgary has also attempted to censor pro-life speech on campus while proclaiming that “everyone must obey the rules.”  In 2006 and 2007, the Genocide Awareness Project was displayed on campus for eight days.  The U of C posted its own signs nearby, proclaiming the exhibit was protected by the Charter.  The exhibit generated discussion and debate on campus, without problems or incidents. But in 2008, the U of C started demanding that the students’ signs be turned inwards, such that no person walking by can see the signs.

The “law and order” claims of Carleton and the U of C are fundamentally dishonest because the rules are not being applied equally to all groups.  Arbitrarily denying one group an outdoor place, or ordering a group to hide its signs from view, are forms of censorship and viewpoint discrimination.  Claiming that pro-life groups at Carleton and the U of C enjoy free speech is like claiming that Blacks in the segregated South could attend school, and ride on the bus.  The claim is disingenuous because it’s true only on a very superficial level, while masking the injustice of blatant discrimination.

(Page 7 continuation of The Lawyers Weekly article)

At its core, the right to free expression is a right to offend other people.  Anyone in any country, no matter how oppressive its regime, can say anything they wish so long as it doesn’t offend anyone.  This was true of the old Soviet Union and is true today of China and Iran.  Indeed, these countries will insist that their citizens are completely free to express themselves, provided they don’t say offensive things.  But a truly free society – which Canada purports to be –  is one where people sometimes have to hear and see the things they hate.  For the U of C and Carleton to restrict free speech arbitrarily because some unnamed person or persons might be “offended” or “disturbed” is to place subjective feelings ahead of Charter-guaranteed constitutional rights.

Further, the right of free speech belongs not only to the speaker, but to potential listeners as well.  While claiming to protect “the rights of others” by suppressing unpopular and controversial speech, the U of C and Carleton are trampling on the rights of university students to be exposed to diverse voices.

Recently the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Pridgen v. University of Calgary (October 13, 2010) rebuked the university for its bullying and censorship tactics.  In 2007, Keith and Steven Pridgen (and other students) used a Facebook page to criticize one of their professors as incompetent.  The U of C found the students guilty of non-academic misconduct, and threatened them with the possibility of expulsion unless they apologized.

When the Pridgen brothers challenged these disciplinary proceedings as violating their Charter rights, the U of C tried to rely on McKinney v. University of Guelph, [1990] 3 SCR 229, which held that the Charter does not apply to a university’s dealings with its own employees, by way of a mandatory retirement policy.  However, the Court in McKinney also held that the Charter could apply to university action that is sufficiently governmental in nature.  Applying Eldridge v. British Columbia, [1997] S.C.R. 624, Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf held that the Charter applies in respect of disciplinary proceedings taken by a university against its own students, pursuant to Alberta’s Post-Secondary Learning Act.  Justice Strekaf held that the U of C is “an agent of the provincial government in providing accessible post-secondary education services to students in Alberta” and is “not a Charter-free zone.”  The Court held that “while the university is free to construct policies dealing with student behaviour which may ultimately impact access to the post-secondary system, the manner in which those policies are interpreted and applied must not offend the rights provided under the Charter.”

The Pridgen decision bodes well for pro-life students at Carleton and the U of C, who have courageously resisted the university’s arbitrary censorship.

John Carpay is a Calgary lawyer.  Among his clients are University of Calgary pro-life students who are resisting the university’s censorship demands.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 29, 2010, issue of The Lawyers Weekly published by LexisNexis Canada Inc.

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From the IMFC: 10 Questions about Bill C-510

For your general information:

The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada has put out the below Q & A sheet to help people understand Roxanne’s Law, or Bill C-510.

Ten questions about Bill C-510

Life is busy. A cheat sheet to understand the basics about one bill being discussed on Parliament Hill

By Andrea Mrozek, Manager of Research and Communications, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada

1. What is Bill C-510? 

Bill C-510 is a private member’s bill that aims to add coercing or attempting to coerce to have an abortion as an offence to the criminal code. 

2. Why is it also called Roxanne’s Law?

Bill C-510 is named after Roxanne Fernando, a Manitoba woman whose boyfriend viciously beat her and left her in a snow bank to die because she would not have an abortion. She died in 2007 at age 24. 

3. Why do we need this bill?

In Canada today, we overwhelmingly sanction and support the abortion choice in the following ways: the legal void on abortion, meaning that a woman can freely obtain an abortion for all nine months of her pregnancy, private abortion clinics funded by taxpayers, “bubble zone” laws around clinics, which force protestors to keep a distance, public funding for Planned Parenthood, among others. This bill offers support for women who want to keep a pregnancy to term in face of intimidation and violence. 

The bill also identifies  threatening a pregnant woman as a unique form of intimidation, one we should expressly identify is wrong. Faye Sonier, legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada explains in one media interview: “You could compare, for example, to the crime of assault. In the criminal code it’s broad; it includes all forms of assault. So one could easily ask why do we have a section dealing with assault with a weapon, or sexual assault or aggravated assault? It’s because the legislator and Canadians want to single out some crimes as being specifically worthy of condemnation. So for this case we want to make it clear that it is wrong to try and force a woman into aborting a child she wants to keep.” 

4. Who brought it forward?

This bill was brought forward by Conservative Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, Rod Bruinooge. He is also chair of the parliamentary pro-life caucus. Mr. Bruinooge does not have the support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Bill C-510.

5. What is a private member’s bill? 

A private member’s bill is a piece of draft legislation brought forward by a Member of Parliament who is not a Minister of the Crown or a parliamentary secretary. The order in which they are debated is subject to a random lottery. Following introduction in the House of Commons, there are two hours of debate on two separate occasions and then a vote. If the vote passes, the bill progresses to the committee stage where it is studied and changes are suggested. Once through the committee stage, the bill returns to the House of Commons for a final vote. It is then introduced in the Senate. 

6. What stage is Bill C-510 at?

It has just had its first hour of debate in the House of Commons on November 1, 2010. The second hour of debate will likely be December 6 or 7, followed by the Second Reading vote on December 8. If it passed on December 8, it would go to committee. 

7. Is there precedence for Bill C-510?

Germany, Italy, France and 13 U.S. states have similar laws.  

8. What chances does this bill have of becoming law?

There’s no real way of gauging this and support or opposition shouldn’t be based on a preconceived idea of whether the bill will pass or not. Historically, private member’s bills have had a harder time passing into law than other bills. 

9. What is accomplished if Bill C-510 doesn’t pass?

First of all, it honours the victim of a terrible crime, Roxanne Fernando. Were it not for Bill C-510, many of us would not have heard of her. Secondly, it raises the point that pregnant women can be more vulnerable, and may need additional protection be it under or outside the law. Thirdly, it raises the issue of how to protect pregnant women—a positive framing of a question we hear less and less. Finally, this bill is generating public discussion on abortion. 

10. What are possible areas of opposition? 

Some (those who are pro-abortion) have expressed concern that this bill is intended to be a first step in recriminalizing abortion. 

Others are concerned the language in the bill is too vague, and that it would be too difficult to enforce, also that our criminal code already has provisions to deal with intimidation.

Still others (those who are pro-life) are concerned about section four in the bill, which expressly states that the bill does not apply to doctors who counsel women to have an abortion to save their health or life. “This section does not apply in the case of a physician who attempts to convince a pregnant female person to have a medical intervention that results, or may result, in the death of the child when, in the physician’s best medical judgment, that medical intervention is necessary to avoid a serious threat to the female person’s physical health.”

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Roxanne’s Law: The First Debate

By Garnet Van Popta

Garnet Van Popta is an alumnus of uOttawa Students For Life and a guest blogger for NCLN.  He is currently studying at Humber College.

Yesterday, November 1st, Bill C-510, Roxanne’s Law was debated in Parliament.  The bill had its second reading, and the debate was on the topic of whether or not the bill should be “sent to committee” where it will be tweaked and adjusted before a third reading in the House of Commons.  The actual vote to decide whether it will go to committee is scheduled for early December.

MP Rod Bruinooge spoke first.  He told Roxanne’s story (which you can learn more about at roxanneslaw.ca), and explained why this bill is needed in Canada.  He said,

“Bill C-510 would communicate to all Canadians that coercing a woman to end her pregnancy against her will is wrong and unacceptable in a nation that values compassion, justice and human rights.

Roxanne’s Law would not affect women’s access to abortion in any way. With this law in place, Canada will continue to have no legal restrictions on the procedure permitted in all nine months of pregnancy. However, for those women who choose to have their baby, this law would give them added protection to fulfil their hopes and dreams of having a family.”

Conservative MP David Anderson spoke briefly, asking for clarification on whether the bill will restrict state coercion or personal coercion.  MP Bruinooge replied that the bill dealt with personal coercion.

Next, Bloc MP Nicole Demers spoke against the bill. According to her, the abortion debate is over (a line I’ve heard a few too many times).

“They can try to dress this bill up and manipulate people in all kinds of ways, but the fact is that it would restrict access to freedom of choice. That debate is over. We do not need to talk about it again. It was clear last year when we debated maternal and child health.”

Wait a minute.  The debate on maternal health last year proved the abortion debate was over?  Didn’t Parliament decide not to fund abortion overseas? I would argue that this proved the abortion debate was (and is) not over.

NDP MP Irene Mathyssen argued next that this bill is another anti-women initiative by the “Harper Conservatives”.

“Bill C-510 will do nothing to reduce violence against women. Like the other anti-choice private members’ bills introduced by government backbenchers, it is a Trojan Horse.”

The reason MP Mathyssen believes this is because the bill refers to an unborn child as a child, not a fetus.  This, according to Mathyssen, translates into fetal rights and infringes on the rights of women (quite a leap, according to my thinking).  MP Bruinooge pointed out in his introductory speech that using the word “child” is consistent with the rest of the Criminal Code, in which the word “fetus” does not occur.  This would be something, according to Bruinooge, that could be addressed by the committee.

Conservative MP Daniel Petit spoke against the bill because, according to him, it does not define some terms well enough, and is too vague.

Liberal MP Marlene Jennings also opposed the bill because of a perceived redundancy.  According to Jennings, coercion is already prohibited by law, and therefore another bill is unnecessary.

Another MP, NDP Jean Crowder, was basically a mouthpiece for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC).  Almost her entire speech was made up of quotes from press releases of the ARCC.  Take a look at this quote:

“The right to autonomy includes both a woman’s right to choose to have children and a woman’s right to choose not to have children. In both circumstances, we would look to the state to provide the tools and resources to support women in their decisions.”

This seems to argue in favour of Bill C-510.  Roxanne’s Law would certainly be a tool of the state to support women in their making of autonomous decisions.  It’s really quite clear.  Crowder outlines several reasons, as taken from an ARCC press release, why this bill is not needed.  One reason is as follows:

“…counsellors already screen for possible coercion in women seeking abortion. Clinics do not perform abortions on women who are conflicted or being coerced. That protection is already in place.”

I find it hard to believe that the ARCC and MP Jean Crowder say this.  Even if women are not often coerced into having an abortion, one cannot say it never happens, as Crowder does here.  As Andrea Mrozek, Manager of Research at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada as well as a blogger at ProWomanProLife.orgwrites in the Calgary Herald,

“There are even those who report similar stories from the pro-choice side. Antichoice is anti-awesome is the blog of a volunteer co-ordinator at an abortion clinic in New Brunswick. In February 2010, she wrote about a woman who was being forced to abort by her parents. ‘The patient clearly did not want to have an abortion; while in to have her ultrasound she freaked out about the finger prick test, and then told the nurse, her mother and anyone who would listen that it was a blessing to be pregnant, a beautiful gift from God,’ she writes.”

Coerced abortion does happen, and that is why Bill C-510 is needed.  I am glad Conservative MP Kelly Block spoke last, since she accurately described the purpose of the proposed law:

“When enacted into law, Bill C-510 will send a clear message that coercing a woman to end her pregnancy against her will is wrong. It will send a message to women that the law is there to protect them, so that if someone attempts to coerce a woman to have an abortion she does not want, she can press charges before it is too late for her and her baby.”

I would like to end by quoting Andrea Mrozek again.  I believe her article, “An abortion law we can all choose to support” (Calgary Herald, Nov. 2, 2010) very accurately frames this issue.  I especially like her last two paragraphs:

“Many women who experience an unplanned pregnancy would keep the child if they thought they had support — physical, financial or emotional. And all too often that is absent. ‘It’s your choice,’ is just another way of saying ‘I don’t care.’

No law can prevent the myriad soft coercions that push a woman toward abortion. But Roxanne’s Law is a small voice empowering at least some women who, in the face of overwhelming odds and even violence, choose to say no. That’s a choice we can all support.”


All quotations from the debate taken from a transcript of the debate on OpenParliament.ca.

N.B.  The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

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Brock Students For Life                              : The “Pridgen Precedent:’ The Charter Does Apply to Universities

This post was written for Brock Students For Life                               by Brock Students for Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

As posted by Rebecca Richmond on the National Campus Life Network webpage.

—–

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

Yesterday’s ruling by Madam Justice J. Strekaf in Pridgen v. University of Calgary did not concern abortion or pro-life university students.  But I still cheered when I heard the news that Keith and Steven Pridgen had won their case.

Why?  Because the ruling clearly states that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does protect the freedom of speech of students on their university campus.

As Justice Strekaf said,

“I am satisfied that the University is not a Charter free zone.  The Charter does apply in respect of the disciplinary proceedings taken by the University against the Applicants [Keith and Steven Pridgen]….While the University is free to construct policies dealing with student behaviour which may ultimately impact access to the post-secondary system, the manner in which those policies are interpreted and applied must not offend the rights provided under the Charter.”

For more information on the specifics of the Pridgen’s case, see the Calgary Herald’s article.

The ruling is good news for the Pridgens.  It’s great news, as well, for pro-life students across Canada who have faced, or will face, discrimination from university administrations and student unions because of their pro-life message.

University administrations and student unions should take note of this ruling – especially the University of Calgary and Carleton University, which seem to have a particularly hard time respecting free speech rights of students, at least when it comes to pro-life students.  Justice Strekaf’s ruling sets a clear precedent.  Students do have free speech rights on campus and they have the law on their side.


Read the comments at the Brock Students For Life                               website.

Brock Students For Life: What Else Is At Stake?

This post was written for Brock Students For Life by Brock Students for Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

By Margaret Stephenson

After 5 students were arrested at Carleton while setting up a pro-life display on campus it seems that our knee-jerk reaction is to denounce the university administration for censoring pro-life rhetoric on campus.

Such censorship should be condemned.

A clear message was sent by Carleton University’s administration: abortion is taboo. Don’t mention it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t protest it. And for heaven’s sake don’t show pictures of it!

But something else is going on here, something that bloggers, on-lookers, and protest-participants decried immediately. Carleton University infringed upon the students’ right to exercise their freedom of speech.

I first heard news of the arrests from my sister (president of uOttawa Students for Life) on Monday morning, just before 10am. I was shocked but not surprised. After all, I had just spent the weekend talking about such incidents with a group of incredible pro-life students from across Canada (where I had the privilege to meet 2 of the brave students arrested). But how frustrating to be in St Catharines, dependent upon sporadic text messages for news from the “front,” instead of in Ottawa! 

I couldn’t help but talk to nearly everyone about the arrests. The first friend I encountered on campus got an earful about the goings-on at Carleton. Much to my annoyance (profound annoyance) her support for the students vanished as soon as I mentioned it was a pro-life protest. …so then does the content of the speech/expression determine whether or not it may be freely spoken/displayed?  Or do we live under a stable, democratic, constitutional monarchy that provides for the freedom of expression?

Today Michael Coren invited his panelists to discuss just that question on his TV show. It’s worth a watch: http://www.ctstv.com/michaelcoren/


Read the comments at the Brock Students For Life website.

Brock Students For Life: Getting the Discussion Started

This post was written for Brock Students For Life by Brock Students for Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

I’ve been thinking of a topic for a blog post since Margaret kindly came up with this concept for our club. It has been difficult for me, to say the least. To be perfectly honest, I do not have much experience in expressing my pro-life view with words. I have always known that abortion is wrong, but I haven’t given much thought to why, exactly. Certainly it isn’t a bi-product of partisan politics, since I was pro-life long before having any conservative political views (in fact, I was a self-described communist/anarchist during most of my teenage years). I suppose what really made up my mind was the fact that in Canada we do not have any laws regulating when exactly a fetus becomes ‘viable’ and therefore a human being.

It is a troubling thought that a full-term, 9-month old fetus can have its head impaled and be ripped out of the womb by a doctor who, presumably, feels absolutely no moral reprehension regarding this greusome ending of its life. Such is the case in Canada where such late-term abortion legal. I have not read any polls on the subject (much as I have faith in Canada’s professional pollsters, I doubt many would take on such a job), but I’m positive that the majority of Canadians would find this sort of late-term barbarism appalling. I’m also positive that any such poll would reveal that the vast majority assume that cases of full-term abortion are illegal in Canada, as they should be.

Therein lies the key for the pro-life movement as I see it in this nation. Once we get people thinking about the utter wrongness of full-term abortions, the next logical question is when exactly a fetus should be considered a viable human being. Of course putting an exact figure on that, as they do in most Western countries, would then raise the question of what that means for the fetus only one day short of the cutoff date. Is the 22-week 6-day fetus no less a person than the 23-week fetus? And what about the 22-week 5-day fetus? And so on. If only a person looks at the situation with such logic, the only fair position to take would then be to side with life in all cases, as we in BSFL do.

This, my first humble post among such intellectual giants as Matt, James (and James), Andrew, Stephanie, and Margaret, will hopefully not be my last. The important thing is getting the discussion started. Right-minded Canadians will do the rest of our jobs for us.

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Read the comments at the Brock Students For Life website.

Brock Students For Life: Are you “in” or “out”? Your life may depend on it.

This post was written for Brock Students For Life by Brock Students for Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

By Andrew Korchok

I recently read an article about a woman in Vancouver who was charged with the murder of her two newborn sons, both killed shortly after their birth, their bodies hidden and left to rot. One quote that particularly struck me was from Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, who said “Few incidents are more tragic than the death of a child but when that death is allegedly at the hands of the mother, it is unimaginable. And when it is two children, it is incomprehensible,” True words indeed; our society abhors and decries the senseless murder of our children  – born ones, that is.

The article goes on to mention that the suspect is facing second-degree murder charges, which hold a maximum sentence of life in prison, rather than infanticide, which only holds a maximum sentence of five years. Yes, this is so heinous and deplorable a crime that it carries the possibility of life in prison. And well it should! What mother could possibly be so evil-minded as to take the lives of two of her newborn babies? Why, she ought to be put away for all eternity!

I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this. Despite reviling in disgust at the thought of a mother killing her own newborn sons, we still turn a blind eye to the thousands upon thousands of abortions performed every year in hospitals and clinics, leaving one to ask what, exactly, is the difference? Why do we shake our heads in abject shock, mouths agape, at the bone-chilling sight of a police officer carrying a body bag the size of a purse, and yet at the same time defend with great ardour a woman’s right to reach inside her womb and choke out with the hand of hypocrisy the vibrant growing life within her, leaving only the dead, rotting remnants of a terminated life in it’s place? Are we truly arrogant enough to believe that the walls of a woman’s womb can shield our eyes from the culture of death we’re promoting?

Or do we believe that there truly is a difference between those still safe and protected in their mother’s bellies, and those who have been thrust out into this world of harm and danger? The victims of this horrible murder were not pre-schoolers or toddlers. They could not speak, nor walk, nor feed or sustain themselves. They were helpless, defenseless newborns, physically no different from when they were in their mother’s womb. Are we expected to believe that this child has every right to live in a world of death and danger, and no right to live in the world of his mother’s womb, a world of safety, protection and new life?

Logically, it makes little sense. But of course the paths of humans and those of logic rarely, if ever, meet. We are not swayed at heart by twisting reason or philosophical arguments. We are swayed when we are faced with stories like this. We are moved when we are confronted with the ugly face of death and murder, replete in all its publicized glory which only serves to make it that much more palpable. We are convinced when we feel in our hearts and see with our eyes, the loss of human life and the grief that it brings.

This is why we as pro-lifers must never lose sight of the humanity of our situation. Abortionists will use every tool in their arsenal to deprive the act of abortion of all humanity. They hide behind medical terms and quaint euphemisms that reduce the act of murdering a child to a simple and routine medical procedure. They hide behind the walls of hospitals and clinics, places of healing and life-saving, all in an effort to convince the world, and themselves, that the act of abortion is a safe, effective and acceptable way to improve and control their own lives. The children they terminate are not worthy of such a title. After all, they cannot hear a fetus’ screams; they cannot see the unborn being carried away in body bags; they cannot see the look of terror and regret in the mother’s eyes as she is paraded before the media, her heinous crime broadcasted for all the world to see and condemn. All of this is hidden behind sterile hospital doors and euphemistic medical terms.

We however, must cling to our humanity, and attempt to share that humanity with others. We must expose to the world the true casualties of abortion: those whose lives have been shattered, and those whose lives have been erased. We must reach out with heartfelt sympathy to those women and those families who have been hurt by abortion, as well as those who are about to be hurt by it. We argue our case most effectively not when we resort to logical, moral and philosophical arguments in an attempt to confound and confuse our opponents, but when we put on display our love for humanity and our love for life. We do our job best when we show the world that we’re not here to win an argument; we’re here to save lives.


Read the comments at the Brock Students For Life website.

Brock Students for Life: Abortion in the News

This post was written for Brock Students for Life by Brock Students for Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

By James Carnegie

If you haven’t noticed lately, the issue of abortion is gaining more and more coverage in our country each day. While abortion has never been a ‘quiet’ issue, its public and political discussion has reached somewhat of a peak recently, which is ironic considering Prime Minister Harper’s intention to keep the abortion debate silenced with regard to Canadian politics. What sparked this increase in discussion? It could easily be pinpointed to Liberal Party leader Ignatieff’s recommendation that abortion be included in the G8 plan as a form of maternal health and Harper’s subsequent denial of the suggestion. But, south of the border abortion has been an area of contention for months now as President Obama moved to create health care, including publicly funded abortion, in the United States. Although it has been made to appear otherwise, the health care bill does include abortion.

And now, a few months after the passing of the health care bill in the US, the abortion debate has found its way into Canadian politics. Perhaps Ignatieff was trying to use abortion as a political tactic, having seen its success in Obama’s presidency with its inclusion in the health care bill. Harper’s approach seems to be the opposite in the sense that abortion could lead to the weakening of public support for his Prime Ministership. While there are certainly other factors affecting our politicians in their decisions concerning abortion, abortion has primarily become a political device, having been stripped of any moral implication.

When Prime Minister Harper refused to include abortion in the G8 plan it seemed to be a step in the right direction but more recent statements have shown that this was not the case. A recent bill introduced by Rod Bruinooge (MP, Winnipeg South), called Roxanne’s law, is meant to protect women against coercive abortion. Bill C-510 would make it illegal to force women into having an abortion against their will. Roxanne Fernando, from whom the bill takes its name, was an immigrant from the Philippines who was was beaten to death by her boyfriend and two of his friends because she refused to abort her child. While this bill is not directly an attempt to protect the unborn, it would protect the pregnant woman who wishes to to keep her child. In the heat of debate and the introduction of Bill C-510 , Mr. Harper has said, “I will oppose any attempt to create a new abortion law.” With this statement the PM is officially opposing the protection of both mother and child, furthering the abortion-debate-as-political-device argument.

While the abortion debate has certainly been mistreated, the introduction of Bill C-510 by Rod Bruinooge, chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, and the existence of the Pro-Life Caucus itself are signs that there is a need for change in Canadian law concerning issues of life. The recent defeat of a Liberal motion to include funding for abortion at the G8 Summit by the Conservatives, including some Liberal votes, is another hopeful sign. Furthermore, we as Canadian citizens are not merely onlookers to the decisions made in parliament but can play an active role in how our Members of Parliament vote. We are represented by our MP’s and so it is prudent to inform your MP of your opinion on life issues through letters, e-mails, and by signing petitions.

LifeSiteNews article quoting PM Harper:“Canadian PM Harper Opposes Law Protecting Women from Coercive Abortions”

Learn about Roxanne’s law: http://www.roxanneslaw.ca/

Sign the Roxanne’s Law Petition: http://roxanneslaw.ca/WhatYouCanDo.html


Read the comments at the Brock Students for Life website.