Justin Trudeau has chosen to close his Liberal party’s nomination process to a significant portion of Canadians—those who are not in favour of a women’s unlimited right to choose an abortion.
CBC’s most recent At Issue segment covered Trudeau’s decision, and I noticed that Chantal Hébert cast the issue in a black-and-white manner. Hébert implied that those opposing abortion all wanted an outright ban. And, unfortunately for those of us who want some level of legal protection for fetuses, this seems to be the prevailing position of many who favour pro-choice.
Trudeau’s stand on the issue plays into the hands of those favouring this extreme position and pretty much excludes large segments of the population who do not want to ban abortion outright, but do want some limits placed on the practice. Canada, of course, has no law covering abortion, leaving unborn children unprotected (except by the ethics or personal morality of attending doctors), even those unborn children who have made it to a few minutes before birth.
The Roman Catholic Church—of which there are some 13-million baptized Canadian adherents—condemns abortion. Certainly a significant sub-set of these must see abortion as morally wrong. Moreover, there are many other Canadians who are not at all religious, but who want restrictions on late-term abortions and an end the practice of aborting a fetus just because it is a girl. Moreover, most democracies have some kind of legal protection for unborn children, especially those in late stages of pregnancy. For most Canadians, abortion is not simply a yes or no, black and white issue—there are moral implications, shades of gray to consider.
Why Trudeau would want to pretty much shut the door to so many is a mystery, for by doing so he pretty much puts an end to the notion of the Liberal party as a “big tent.”
Trudeau said in a speech a bit over a year ago he was “calling for open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding in the next election.” This was widely taken to mean that selection of Liberal party candidates would be open—that is to say, no special treatment for “star candidates” and the leader would stay out of the nomination process.
Obviously, Trudeau didn’t say what he meant or didn’t mean what he said, for it took only months for him to ignore his own policy.
First, we had Trudeau blocking Christine Innes from seeking the Liberal nomination in the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina because her candidacy might have interfered with that of one of his “stars,” Chrystia Freeland. I also learned then that Trudeau had some sort of central “green-light” committee for approving potential candidates—so control is not even at the local riding level, but rather, it is under party headquarters control.
Less than a month later, Trudeau’s selection, Toronto city councillor Adam Vaughan, was declared the Liberal candidate in Trinity-Spadina—again, no local control.
What’s more, Maclean’s website tells of “new accusations of favouritism.” That story is about Marc Miller’s—another Trudeau favourite—recent election as the candidate in Montreal’s Ville-Marie riding. The article is worth reading as it indicates there are other problems with the Liberal party’s nomination process.
At the time he made it, I wondered how long Trudeau’s pledge of open nominations would last. Surely political parties want a team of candidates who stand for the same platform. Otherwise, why bother with parties in the first place? I wouldn’t want, for example, to be in a party that had elected officials who did not believe in free enterprise.
On deeply held fundamental issues of personal morality, however, I believe some latitude is needed. Abortion and capital punishment are examples of issues on which a party should not use the whip. Even on a human right as fundamental to our lives as is free speech, our Charter allows some restriction. Why not some boundaries on the absolute right for abortion on demand?