Thursday, April 26, 2012

Against the Woodworth motion

Obviously, I am against the motion brought forth by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth who is indeed reopening the abortion debate, despite Harper's blather that his government would not do so. That was lip service and to be expected. If Mr. Harper didn't want to reopen the debate and stir up divisive emotions in the country, he wouldn't be turning a blind eye when an MP of his brings a motion before the House of Commons. But here we are, debate reopened.

Note the way Woodworth is couching his motion:
“The abortion debate has actually never been closed,” Woodworth said Wednesday after a caucus meeting. “My motion is designed specifically to look at the question of how we decide what is a human being and who we decide is a human being. That debate has been left hanging by almost every court that has adjudicated on the subject.”
He is using a surreptitious framing that is intentional. When the discussion is channelled in this way toward "what is a human being" and when does life begin, etc., then the waters start getting muddied. People take their eye off the real issue which is interference with a woman's right to choose. The motion's request that a committee be struck to pursue the issue as entirely framed by Woodworth will further that muddying.

This motion does indeed seek to create a national parliamentary venue in which a Conservative controlled majority will choose the witnesses, skew the terms of the discussion toward the pro-life position and ultimately choose their preferred outcome: "the membership of the special committee consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair shall be from the government party..." Imagine watching that committee in action.

Read Woodworth's motion and you will see how skewed the questions are that he seeks to have a parliamentary committee spend public time and resources pursuing. It is crafty in that way in that a special committee would garner national attention, if it were to be struck, with all the attendant ability to start changing the national conversation. It is not so crafty though, in how lop-sided his terms of reference are. Putting aside any of the substantive issues, the terms of his motion are highly objectionable on that basis alone.

Of course, what would not be adequately presented in such a special so-con committee, the overwhelming view of Canadians who are pro-choice, recently put at a strong 2-1 margin. When the discussion is about a woman's right to choose, Canadian opinions are strongly in support and have remained so over a decade. This is why Woodworth obfuscates in framing all his public statements as he does above.

And needless to say, the Harper Conservatives are playing with fire, letting women and all pro-choice supporters twist in the wind while their backbencher appeals to the base.

I hope MPs from all sides will strongly reject this effort, whenever the vote occurs (June or September based on a few of the reports).