Saturday, July 12, 2008

Coyne on Abortion

Andrew Coyne has written a compelling piece on abortion for Maclean's. Coyne argues that, after twenty years of having absolutely no law on the subject (through what he describes as a political fluke), it is about time to have a real debate on abortion and finally get some sort of law on the books even if the law merely reaffirms the status quo. Coyne seems to be pulling out his hair over the lack of democratic oversight on this issue. While I theoretically agree with Coyne's concerns, I must say that the abortion debate or lack there of seems to fit well into Canada's current political climate. Think about it. It's been over twenty-five years since the first voices began speaking of the urgency of getting Quebec's signature on the constitution. Canadians are deeply divided on free trade and have voted both ways on it (people forget that the Liberals opposition to free trade remained through the 1993 election when they promised to renegotiate NAFTA) but we no longer debate the issue. Health care has gone from an urgent issue to a non-issue. Why? Politicians realized that they couldn't do anything about it or at least not anything that would win them votes. So, they continue to throw money at the problem and call royal commissions. The chattering classes (mostly the right wing of it) are upset about human rights commissions and free speech. Any politicians touching that issue with a ten-foot pole? As sad as it may seem, there is nothing more Canadian today than to push our biggest problems and debates to the backburner. I can only guess that Canadians are divided enough by other things that they can't really stomach any more federation threatening national debates. Thus, while Mr. Coyne raises a valid point, don't expect anyone to reopen the abortion debate this millenium.

Side Note: Abortion will likely remain off the table for two more practical reasons. The Tories see at as a losing issue. The pro-life crowd already largely votes Conservative and the few pro-choicers they have are crucial to staying in government and winning a majority. The Liberals are divided on the issue. Having gone through, at the focused prodding of the court, the same-sex marriage debate, the Grits are in no mood to open up internal wounds.

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