When the Great Canadian Wish List began, the CBC aired a promo segment telling everyone it was starting this project as an experiment. The hope was that Canadians would log on to Facebook, make their wishes known and do it “as loud as possible.” Mike Wise from the CBC teamed up with Taylor Gunn from Student Vote for this initiative, but they had no idea where it would take them.
On July 1, the number one wish was announced: “Abolish abortion in Canada.” It had just over 9,500 supporters at that time.
Dave Gilbert, creator of the “Abolish abortion” wish, is from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. He is happy with the results, but recognizes that the real winning is “the fact that people are talking about abortion. This is not a settled issue in Canada.” The CBC promised extensive coverage of the online contest. It wasn’t to be.
The most significant coverage of the Great Canadian Wish List was the hourly newscast that was promised. However, it aired once at 7:35 a.m. and rarely after that. The segment was 3 minutes, 15 seconds. Go to www.youtube.com and search “CBC Wish List” for the promo, mid-contest coverage and finale.
Gilbert is disappointed with the lack of coverage and says he was told it could be due to the fact that “it was a heavy news day, in between Canada Day, FIFA soccer, the Glasgow airport bombing and an update on soldiers in Afghanistan. The producers of the hourly newscast have to juggle their lineups based on evolving news stories and time constraints.”
The finale clip shows Amy Langstaff from Environics, a polling company, stating that, “The last time we measured approval for abortion, about two-thirds of the Canadian public thought that abortion should be available to women.”
Although it was said that there has not been any polling for seven years on this issue, Environics did do a poll in October 2006, commissioned by LifeCanada, and other polling firms have also surveyed Canadians on abortion in recent years.
LifeCanada’s press release in November summarized the results. Almost two-thirds of the 2,021 people surveyed by the Environics Research Group supported laws to protect human life before birth. In fact, “Only three in 10 support the current Canadian policy in which there is no legal protection for human beings at any stage of development before birth.” This was not mentioned on the CBC.
Cheating in the online contest became an issue with less than two weeks left in the project. This caused distraction from the original discussions, as everyone was eager to point fingers. Facebook and CBC acted quickly to fix the problem.
Some people are dissatisfied with the results. One comment on the cbc.ca/wish blog from Glynn Pearson in Calgary said, “This whole foolish unscientific poll was hijacked immediately by hateful radicals.” In response to sentiments such as this, Andrew John from B.C. wrote, “I myself am very strongly pro-life and strongly atheist.”
It might not have been the highest level of debate, but it showed that far from being a settled issue, abortion is on the minds of a large number of Canadians. Gilbert acknowledges that this is not an official poll, but “it does show that there are a lot of young people in Canada who care about this issue.” He hopes that “our politicians will take note of the fact that they do have support if they stand up for the life issues.”
For Wish Results go to www.cbc.ca/wish.