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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Progressive Conservative Party on Abortion

For the Record, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada has not answered my three questions on abortion. (Neither have the Liberals or New Democrats.) I doubt they will, and really, who can blame them. But they are speaking about it in the media. But since I started this storm, I feel compelled to at least try to get information from other parties out there. Right now, all I can do is glean from the media and report.

This is what Alison Redford had to say about abortion and conscience rights this morning on CBC’s the Current.

Anna Maria Tremonti asked Redford about the Wildrose stance on abortion and conscience rights. (Start at 7:17 if you are listening to the clip above)
Redford: “I think Albertans are shocked to hear that that’s come back into the discussion. You know these are issues that were decided in Canada twenty years ago and I think Albertans are very proud of who we are as a community. It was very unsettling for me to hear this come up last week from that party as a legitimate policy position and I was just as disappointed to hear that the party itself would go further with respect to citizen referenda which really, I think, is something that concerns Albertans. It’s not where we, I don’t believe, should go. My sense from speaking to Albertans is that these are discussions that are incredibly divisive. Of course people should have their own personal beliefs, but when you start to talk about conscience rights it’s a very slippery slope. It upsets me that we seem to think, or that they seem to think,  that this is something Albertans want to talk about and quite frankly I think for a lot of Albertans it’s a little embarrassing for people in the rest of Canada to think that Albertans are still debating these as serious issues.

Tremonti:  You have spent years working in human rights and constitutional law. Does the concept of conscience rights even have a chance of going anywhere? Is it a red herring?

Redford: What I see this as is a legal construct that is brought forward by people with certain political beliefs when they don’t like the decisions that the courts have made.  Now, that’s a fairly technical legal argument, and I don’t think that we get very far by turning this into a debate between lawyers. But we’ve certainly seen in Alberta in the last couple of days commentary from legal scholars from our own University of Calgary saying that this stuff just doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t reflect the reality of the law in Canada, of the Courts in Canada, of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Okey dokey. Or is that okie dokie? 
I still want to know what you'll do to improve access to abortion services in the north and rural Alberta, but I'm feeling pretty confident you have no plans to de-list or to pose any fundamental challenge to a woman's right to choose or to make access to services worse. Also, in comparison to Wildrose and Danielle Smith's approach to this is in the media, this is very sane. No narrative of persecution here. I point this out to support my own contention that abortion only becomes an issue when you say something dumb about it.
I don't want to be a bummer or anything, but I feel compelled to mention that PC party is the party that brought in Bill 44. Would someone please ask whether or not they plan to repeal this? A watchful eye is definitely necessary here too.
I'm not going to get into health care funding generally and various positions on privatizing delivery. That wouldn't be fair because I didn't do it with the other parties. But if you're interested, it's something to find out about.
As a final note, I just want to point out that at the end of the interview, Tremonti notes that Danielle Smith had been invited to the interview but declined.
I'll try to find something just as concise from the Liberals and New Democrats too, and get that posted sometime soon. They're not getting as much media, so it's a little more difficult. So much for the liberal media bias claimed by Ms Smith.

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