Followers of Canadian politics will know that a no-name, backwoods, back-bench MP, Stephen Woodworth, has proposed a private members bill that would form a committee to look into the definition of when a person becomes a ‘human being’ (e.g. at the moment of birth). The obvious end-goal of the motion is to lay the groundwork for a rollback of reproductive rights in Canada.
Note that Canada is one of the few countries in the world withnolaw governing abortion.
I’m less interested in the motion though, and more in the reaction it’s prompted. The Prime Minister announced, pretty much immediately, that he didn’t support it, that he’d vote against it and that he had nothing to do with its introduction. Obviously, many of us were skeptical. He’s used private member’s bills before to push the government agenda (read: Gun Registry).
But then the Chief Whip, Gordon O’Connor, a Harper loyalist despite his various fumbles, was sent out to deliver a speech that seemed to make it clear that the Abortion debate was not being opened at Conservative Command’s behest. This has continued, and it’s now pretty well accepted (outside of the rabid partisans, at least) that Harper is not behind this.
So what, then?
Free speech in the Conservative caucus?
At the very least, we have some assurance that Parliamentary democracy is not completely dead in Canada. Though relying on our tiny Christian Conservative fringe to keep it alive is probably not healthy. Especially since Harper’s Iron Fist, but definitely for years before that as well, the lack of dissent, the “If I want to be in the Cabinet I need to keep my mouth shut and my hand down” attitude has been incredibly detrimental to the political process and to the exchange of ideas.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if it was Harper’s pushing our system to the brink that ended up forcing its renewal?