Dr. Dawg

Abortion debate re-opened

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Government whip Gordon O’Connor distinguished himself last night on the issue of choice during the first debate on abortion that wasn’t supposed to happen. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he’d oppose Motion 312 when it comes up for another debate and a vote in a few weeks.

Those of us on the pro-choice side should not be encouraged by any of this.

Let me offer a little speculation for discussion—being called a conspiracy theorist by Kady O’Malley is a challenge I can’t ignore.

First, the notion that the PMO is innocent in this affair is ludicrous. Anyone who cannot grasp the control that is exercised over the CPC caucus should have a look at Garth Turner’s Sheeple. If the PMO—Stephen Harper—had not wanted this motion to go forward, it would have been stopped. Instead, the powers that be stood out of the way and waved Woodworth through.

There are various theories about motivation here: let me address two of them. The first is that the motion is doomed to defeat, and that Harper wanted to make that point to the so-cons in his party and in his base. By allowing the debate to take place, he was demonstrating to both that his hands are tied with respect to re-criminalizing abortion, while at the same time allowing his backbenchers to blow off a little steam.

While this theory has some appeal, I lean towards a second one: that Harper has achieved his first objective with a distant goal in mind. That objective is to have created a substantial political space for a debate that was not to be re-opened.

Harper is, after all, a strategist, not a demagogue. He knows that talk of re-criminalizing abortion now will set alarm bells ringing and red lights flashing. But if that were his ultimate aim, he’s made a solid first move. While he says he will vote against M-312, and his whip pulled out a speech last night that the Radical Handmaids could have drafted, the obvious point is that both are now fully participating in the debate that was supposedly never to take place.

The door has been opened, just a crack. Now it’s over to the so-con wing to twist Harper’s arm in Candice Hoeppner fashion.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 27, 2012 8:34 AM.

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