In the second installment of this series of editorials—a series in which we make the case why each of Canada’s national political parties should be pro-life—we turn our attention to the New Democrats. Last month, readers will recall that the we argued that the Liberal Party should make an about-face and embrace the pro-life position because its long-standing (and endlessly repeated) commitment to “rights” requires it. So too should the NDP repudiate the brutal practice of abortion since the party claims to advocate for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
The NDP is, after all, a party of the Left. In America, this end of the political spectrum has had little presence in mainstream discourse until quite recently. Before the ascendence of radicals like Bernie Sanders, this brand of politics was known outside of the ultra-liberal redoubts only because of names like Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. In postwar Europe, on the other hand, left-wing parties have frequently exercised political power because the splintering of their parliaments often allows left-of-centre coalitions to form legislative blocs.
Canada, by contrast, has (unlike the U.S.) long had a mainstream left-of-centre political party but (unlike Europe), it has almost never held the balance of power; our current parliamentary arrangement is an exception that proves this long-standing rule. Traditionally, the NDP has acted as both a voice and a ballast: it has been the advocate for social ideals—deploying lofty language about workers, solidarity, and socialized public services—tipping the Liberals further to its position, even as this very advocacy casts the Liberals as a pragmatic, centrist party.
There is, however, no shade of difference between the Liberals and the NDP on the question of abortion. For reasons which are similar to the ones which have guided the Liberals on this issue, the NDP has, for decades, betrayed its own vision in its regrettable embrace of abortion-on-demand. By falsely casting women as victims menaced by the oppression of pregnancy, the NDP in particular—and the global Left more generally—has marginalized, to the point of murder, a group which they should be working tirelessly to protect.
For the unborn are the proletariat of demography; the weakest and most vulnerable members of the population pyramid, they represent not the working class from which labour (and its value) is extracted, but the pure possibility of labour in the productive lives that they promise. If children are, by definition, poor—since they are totally dependent on others for shelter and sustenance—the unborn are, as it were, the maximally poor, in possession of life but totally deprived of even bodily autonomy or independence. If this condition endures after birth and persists, in some form, in inequitable social arrangements, it is nevertheless the case that the indigence of childhood, infancy, and even gestation are the earliest and purest forms of the condition which leftist politics seeks so ardently to ameliorate.
But the Left, in the early 20th century, made a tragic (and decidedly capitalist) mistake. By construing categories like “freedom” and “poverty” in purely economic terms, they arrived at the callous, inhumane, and economically exploitative conclusion that the poorest of the poor, the unborn, needed to be made liable to deliberate medical extermination so that women could thrive in ways which increase the bottom line of their employers and the capitalist system itself. Yet even the most heartless robber baron, mercilessly wearing his workers down to death, never willed murder for the sake of his enterprise so explicitly. Therefore, although indifference to suffering is something of which those on the Left endlessly accused their political opponents—they themselves are guilty of a far more barbaric form of callousness.
An authentic leftist politics could be grounded on the pre-economic reality of the family and, taking its cues from this natural economy, apply its vital lessons to the body politic. Instead, the Left now does the reverse. By limiting its vision only to social and economic categories, it had become blind to the constituency for which it should be making the most impassioned defenses.
But, even now, nothing prevents the NDP from becoming a stanch advocate for the unborn. Indeed, in defense of the defenseless, the leftists of this country should unite: they have nothing to lose but their inconsistency.