Premier Bob Rae declared in mid-October that “access… [to abortion] is critical to our government.” Thus did the anti-life program of Ontario’s NDP government start with a bang.
Within two weeks of assuming power, the Premier and several of his new Cabinet ministers fired off warning shots to leave abortion on demand alone.
On October 13, the Minister responsible for Women’s Issues, Anne Swarbrick, declared: “Our commitment is definitely there to provide women access to abortion. I think women can rely on me and the other feminists in the cabinet to ensure that.”
She was speaking at a pro-abortion rally organized by the Canadian Abortion rights Action League (CARAL) which she honoured with her presence.
“I am delighted to be here as the first minister of women’s issues in this province who is proud not only to call herself a feminist, but is proud to declare my support for a woman’s right to choose an abortion,” she stated.
Earlier in the week NDP Attorney-General Howard Hampton declared that any charges laid against doctors under Bill C-43 for malpractice in performing an abortion would first have to pass scrutiny from his office.
“We do not think,” Hampton explained, “that [abortion] should be part of the Criminal Code…Laying charges against doctors would be very contentious,”
On the weekend of October 14, Premier Robert Rae himself declared that the province will not tolerate the “harassment” of women seeking abortions and doctors who supply them.
Speaking to some 200 members of the Law Union of Ontario, he was given a standing ovation on entering. He was applauded again on his pro-abortion remarks.
“We so not intend to simply stand by and watch access being denied that which belongs to them [women], not to legislators and prosecutors,” he said.
He hinted at a province-sponsored and financed constitutional challenge to any developments which might restrict abortion on demand. Said the Premier the next day, “access… [to abortion] remains of critical importance to our government.”
Continuation of Liberal policies
The rhetoric of the new NDP ministers does not, however, indicate a change in substance from the previous government. This is so for the simple reason that all the anti-life structures are already in place.
This was acknowledged in an interview after her government’s Liberal Health Minister Elinor Caplan, as devoted a pro-abortion ideologue as one may find in the NDP.
“I feel that I’ve started much that will continue,” she told Hospital News.
Caplan singled out the Independent Health Facilities Act (the Act which regulates government financing and sponsorship of abortion ‘clinics’), as one of a few “important milestones” of her tenure.
She would not want to be opposition health critic, she said, stating, “It would be very difficult to criticize the new government for implementing my policies.”
Abortion malpractice suits against doctors, too, had been given the cold shoulder by the previous government. Attorney-General Ian Scott had indicated already that his office intended to protect the abortionists to the fullest degree possible.
Meanwhile, Ms. Swarbrick’s reference to “the other feminists in the cabinet” seemed to refer to her ten female colleagues. It may be argued, of course, that just about the entire Cabinet consists of people who support the feminist philosophy. At any rate, the Rae Cabinet counts no fewer than eleven female ministers.
According to Paula Todd of the Toronto Star, which is the Ontario NDP’s main mouthpiece, at least five of the eleven ministers are “radical feminists” –the above-mentioned Anne Swarbrick; Zanana Akanda, community and social services; Frances Lankin, government services; Marion Boyd, education; and Evelyn Gigantes, minister of health.
Pro-lifers already know Evelyn Gigantes. It was at her initiative that led Liberal Attorney-General Ian Scott to protect the homosexual lifestyle from criticism and opposition under Bill 7, the Equality Rights Statute Law Amendment Act, passed in December 1986.
Recently Gigantes promised a gay/lesbian group in Ottawa that she would seek full legal equality for them, including legal recognition for homosexual ‘marriages’ and the benefits attached.
Zanana Akanda, Minister of Community and Social Services, is the first black female MPP. According to Paula Todd, she was active in the Federation of women Teachers. No other details were given about her.
Frances Larkin, Minister of Government Services, is a former union negotiator for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and a strong advocate of affirmative action. She has already announced that the Ontario government will pursue pay equity everywhere no matter what the cost.
(Pay equity is not equal pay for equal work. Pay equity artificially raises wages in one profession by arbitrarily comparing it to another unrelated one.)
Marion Boyd, the new Education minister, is a founding member of the feminist lobby group known as the Ontario Women’s Action Coalition. She was recently described in the Toronto Star as “an ardent feminist.”
Boyd is a long-time activist for day care. This should appeal to teachers. When the numbers of school children are declining, teachers are anxious to have taxpayer-financed day care centres on school premises, providing further justification for their employment.
Meantime, education itself is falling more and more under the influence of radical groups. The ‘gay/lesbians’ are only one of them. It is too early to tell what the new education minister has in mind on that score.
Out of the 25 NDP ministers, apparently only one is a practicing Catholic and he was attacked for his views on abortion on October 16. Spokeswomen for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC), Cherie MacDonald and Jane Holmes described the appointment to Solicitor-General of Cambridge MPP Mike Farfan as “a slap in the face to the women’s movement.”
Said Miss Holmes, “If his [anti-abortion] attitude were transferred through to police forces it would lead to a lot more suffering to women who are at the clinics to get a legal procedure.” Please note the last two words.
In response to the complaint, Premier Bob Rae immediately announced that this would not be tolerated. “It would be unfair to expect that absolutely everybody is going to simply have one opinion on that subject,” he stated. “However, the government will have a common and collective view.”
Most likely this ends any opposition within the party on the basis of principle and again this, too, is nothing new. Former Premier David Peterson ordered Roman Catholic Cabinet Minister John Sweeney to be silent on the subject in October 1985, after the Ontario Supreme Court overturned the not-guilty verdict in Henry Morgentaler’s November 1984 Toronto trial. Nothing further was heard from Mr. Sweeney from then on, nor from any other of the 35 Catholic Liberal MPPs.
As The Interim went to press, Mr. Farfan, the Solicitor-General, was interviewed on CBC TV about his view on abortion. Stated the Minister: “When we come out of the Cabinet table then there is a policy position of the government, and as a member of the government, as a member of Cabinet, I have to work within that position.”