I Thought Harper Was a “Leader”

Ever since Stéphane Dion took over the helm of the badly listing Liberal ship following the party’s defeat in 2006 and a prolonged leadership contest that followed, we’ve been told by the Conservative party and its supporters that the former academic and cabinet minister is “not a leader.” By contrast, Stephen Harper has been touted as the embodiment of “leadership” — a principled man of conscience that’s unconcerned by the whims of popular opinion polls and is unafraid to stake out forward positions on a range of controversial issues. Or so the story goes.

Yesterday, in response to a question at a town hall meeting about the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, the pending bill that would make it a criminal offence to harm an unborn child during an attack on its mother, Dion stated that he opposed because it might infringe on women’s access to abortion. “We need to protect everyone against crime but, at the same time, it happens that I believe in the rights of women to choose and I have a lot of respect for the people who have a different view,” he told the crowd.

Dion then went on to ask that Stephen Harper to state his own position on abortion. “I think all Canadians have the right to know what the party leader thinks,” he said. “I gave my opinion. I want to hear the opinion of Stephen Harper.” A fair enough question it seems.

So how did our fearless “leader” respond? Harper had Darren Eke, some flunky in the PMO, send an e-mail distancing the government from the private member’s bill and further stating that the government “no intention to reopen the debate on abortion.” Wow. That was quite some “leadership” there. So much for appealing to the “silent majority” of social conservatives that have long been ignored by the media, but are supposed to living in what’s imagined will soon become “Harperland” after the next election.

16 Comments

Filed under Stéphane Dion, Stephen Harper

16 responses to “I Thought Harper Was a “Leader”

  1. “no intention” isn’t exactly a commitment is it? Nicholson said the same line about the death penalty.

    “no intention” – at this time. No commitment here.

  2. Ti-Guy

    Wow. That was quite some “leadership” there.

    “Conservatives” call that “playing chess,” which is the most sophisticated leadership strategy in the history of civilisation. As we all know, anyone who’s good at chess knows instinctively how to inspire the masses.

    …provided the masses move in very predicable ways and are made out of plastic.

  3. Pingback: » Friday Bits and bytes Scott’s DiaTribes: My personal opinions on social and political issues from a progressive standpoint.

  4. It seems more than a little precious to be expressing solidarity with pro-life groups and happily taking the contributions of social conservatives while maintaining that their number one issue won’t ever be on the table… Is that believable? Does it make sense?

  5. gee

    Dion glossed over his opinion. He did not explain whether he supports unlimited abortion on demand, up to and including partial birth abortion. He should also elaborate as to whether his version of the right to choose (something else, obviously) applies to prostitutes and drug addicts. And, since some rights, as he sees them, supersede others, maybe he should provide a list of rights in order of precedence.

    As for the actual crime bill … currently, if a pregnant lady was repeatedly punched in the stomach until there was no longer any sign of life inside her womb, what offence was committed? Common assault?

  6. What sentence did the offender receive in that case? Not a trick question or anything, I really don’t know.

    As for Dion’s opinion on abortion, yes, you could say that he “glossed it over” given that a detailed explanation of his views on the matter wasn’t really asked for but generally speaking informed his opinion on the bill in question. It would be interesting to know both of their opinions in detail.

  7. Ti-Guy

    He did not explain whether he supports unlimited abortion on demand, up to and including partial birth abortion.

    Why should he? No one can *demand* an abortion right up until the expected delivery date.

    For the millionth time….get your facts straight.

  8. You guys are probally dreaming of a Dionland or Laytonland! For far too long Canada has been known as Liberalland!

  9. I really don’t think of the government in those terms. The idea of “Harperland” is just completely asinine in my opinion. So are the other “lands” for that matter.

  10. gee

    Published in The London Free Press:

    Canada’s abortion laws shameful
    By RORY LEISHMAN

    “If a mother decides, for whatever reason, she no longer wants her baby, it is lawful in Canada for an abortion doctor to kill that baby at any time during the pregnancy.”

    I retract anything that I wrote that was factually incorrect. I just assumed that this guy knew what he was writing.

    Facts aside, I was trying to illustrate that the abortion debate is an incredibly complex one, combining health, moral, and religious issues, and that Dion gave it the short shrift when he summarized it into a sound bite combined with political one-upmanship.

    p.s. thanks for giving me credit for 999,999 additional posts, but I really don’t deserve it.

  11. Maybe he did, but perhaps he got the ball rolling. I presume that was his intention…

  12. Robert Gibbs

    “Hey Canada, I’m Stevie Harper and I’m a celebrity too. I want Canada to know that I’m, like, totally ready to MIS-lead.”

  13. There are no laws that prevent 3rd trimester abortions from occurring but the policies of the various provincial physician colleges make 3rd trimester abortions for non-medically necessary reasons unavailable.

    As an FYI, 0.8% of abortions occur after 20 weeks gestation in Canada, almost all because of serious foetal or maternal health problems. In the U.S. where these laws exist and the social climate is more conservative 1.4% of abortions are carried out after 21 weeks. Late term abortions are more common in the US than Canada despite the stricter laws and attitudes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion (See incidence of late term abortion section.)

  14. Ha. Thanks for clearing that up. I know the pro-lifers always seem to focus a good deal of their attention on late-term abortions which, as you’ve pointed out, are quite rare and usually dictated by medical necessity.

  15. Quite rare indeed. I think the stats are less than 1% of all abortions performed are in the third trimester and are performed because the pregnant woman’s life is in jeopardy. The whole partial birth abortion MEME was created by right wing anti-choicers to scare well meaning public into thinking that women in their 7th or 8th month of pregnancy would suddenly decide that they are no longer interested in giving birth to a viable fetus. If such extreme cases can be proven to exist, I would say that (a) the person is probably suffering from some serious emotional problems, or (b) she never wanted the pregnancy and was denied access all along (these women would fall into the category of self-induced abortions that the US anti-abortionists often cite in their literature).

    As for Harper, he is a liar and hypocrite. He can evade the question all he wants but the truth is that except for four members of his caucus, he and his fellow retrogrades voted for Bill C-484 at second reading. That tells you where he stands on abortion. All sorts of reputable groups, the CMA most recently, have called Bill C-484 a back door attempt to criminalize abortion.

  16. That’s certainly the way I read the bill. Despite what its advocates claim, I really don’t see how it’s possible to grant human rights to a fetus “at any stage of development” in one piece of legislation and then claim it has no application in the law outside of that by simply saying that it doesn’t. It seems absurd to me.

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