Like it or not, each month seems to bring further evidence that pro-life faith in the politicians of Canada’s three political parties is misplaced. Even rather firm declarations of pro-life sentiments by candidates at election time are now to be looked at with extreme caution. They often prove to be no more than vote-getting devices. They certainly do not guarantee either understanding or interest in the battle against the anti-life, anti-family forces on the part of the politicians involved. The last two months of 1985 have been quite revealing in this respect, especially in Ontario.
The Peterson government, in power since June 1985, has not budged in its determination to leave Morgentaler’s Toronto abortion clinic untouched. Meanwhile, its commitment to seek wider availability for abortion remains unshaken. Not eve a five-month long campaign of pro0life demonstrations directed at the Premier, which follow him wherever he goes, has brought about a change of heart. Lately these demonstrations have spread beyond provincial borders, to cities such as Halifax – at the meeting of provincial premiers on November 28 with 40 right-to-life protestors, according to the Halifax Herald – and Vancouver, on December 10, with 30 picketers, according to The Province.
December 10 was a special day. It marked the re-opening of the Toronto abortion “clinic” one year ago. This brought out some 600 demonstrators to the Harbord Street site, spread out throughout the day, with some 120 pickets marching at the noon hour. At the same time, another 25 pro-lifers began a twelve-hour sit-in at the Premier’s Legislature office. The Premier was just on his way to Vancouver. He slipped out, without speaking to the demonstrators, telling reporters that he had met with them before. This provincial Premier is the same person who, as Liberal Party candidate in the riding of London Centre, solemnly promised – in writing – that he would close the abortion clinic, if elected.
Meanwhile, lesser political luminaries do their thing. Question period in the Ontario Legislature on December 12, revealed that Liberal Health Minister Murray Elston (Huron-Bruce) had granted Henry Morgentaler an OHIP billing number in July. This enables the illegal establishment to bill the taxpayer, via the government, for so-called “medical procedures carried out in accordance with the provincial insurance plan.” These would include “gynecological testing and abortion counseling.” Mr. Elston of course, earnestly assured the MPPs at the time of questioning that “our position is quite clear that we do not want free-standing abortion clinics.”
Alan Pope and Larry Grossman
The above revelation of Liberal government support for the illegal abortion clinic came as a result of a question by Alan Pope (PC Cochrane South). Mr. Pope, when he was the Tory Minister of Health in the short-lived Miller government after the May 2 election, had received Morgentaler’s request for insurance privileges and had turned it down. Any innocent bystander may think that Mr. Pope, therefore, must be pro-life. Those who have seen political posturing before will know better.
Mr. Pope, of United Church background, together with rival Larry Grossman, who is Jewish, recently reached a degree of notoriety on the abortion issue – brief as it may have been – matched by only a few other Canadians. Last November both were running for the Ontario PC leadership held in the middle of the month. On November 8, Alan Pope, during a leadership debate on CBC’s Radio Noon programme, argued that Roman Catholic hospitals should be forced to perform abortions. “I think it is clear that a condition of public funding must be that therapeutic abortions be made available.” Realizing his error, after receiving unfavourable feedback, he lamely amended his position: “I admit there is some sensitivity on the matter…and my answers should have reflected this.”
Larry Grossman (PC St. Andrew-St. Patrick, Toronto) who won the leadership race a week later, revealed a similar cast of mind on the same programme when he stated: “there is no point forcing it (an abortion committee) on Catholic hospitals unless there is no other alternative.” However, he then softened this statement somewhat by claiming that the “problem” of access to abortion could be resolved by better “organization of services” in neighbouring towns, without confronting the religious convictions of Catholics.
For both Pope and Grossman, it appears that abortion is a “problem” of purely pragmatic politics, unrelated to any permanent values in society. If you can get away with it, do it; if not, bide your time.
One Ontario newspaper thought the statements of the two Conservative politicians were outrageous. The London Free Press, in a November 12 editorial entitled “An attack on freedom of conscience,” rejected the politicians’ suggestion outright. “The idea that government might use intense financial pressure in an attempt to implicate unwilling Roman Catholics, or any other citizens of like views in abortion is unconscionable,” it stated.
One may recall how the pre-1969 argument in favour of legalization depended greatly on the constantly repeated claim “that there was no question of forcing abortions on anyone.” This seemed so evident at the time that the federal government of Mr. Trudeau refused to entertain the idea of adding to the 1969 legislation a conscience clause guaranteeing freedom from coercion.
Yet, a year later, the then Social Credit Minister of Health in British Columbia, Mr. Loffmark, warned that he might “order all B.C. hospitals to grant legal abortions” on the grounds that “hospitals supported by public funds will have to face up to their public responsibilities. Two years later, Ontario Health Minister Allan Lawrence demanded the same thing. Also the same year the Family Planning Federation of Canada urged all levels of Canadian governments, provincial and federal “to require all hospitals receiving public funds to provide abortion services.”
In March 1973 Saskatoon’s City Hospital asked the Saskatchewan government to force all hospitals “to share the load (of abortions). In the same month and year, then MP Stuart Leggatt (NDP New Westminster), today a B.C. judge, demanded in the House of Commons that the government “investigate” hospitals refusing to set up abortion facilities.
The theme of coercing hospitals was echoed in the 1974 draft of a new British Columbia health plan and taken up by the Globe and Mail in an editorial on January 18, 1974 (repeated several years later on). The Pope-Grossman remarks indicate that under the surface the idea remains very much alive.
Of two other Ontario Cabinet Members who have entered the list on behalf of the anti-family movement one, Ian Scott the Attorney-General, receives constant media publicity. Scott is a person committed to his pro-abortion position, which makes him the effective protector of the Morgentaler clinic. The Toronto media, who treat him as a Cabinet’s superstar, print his picture more than that of the Premier. As Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Women and Native Affairs, Scott is involved in many hot topics: legal aid, drunken drivers, segregation of female athletes, francophone trials in French, abolition of Queen’s Counsel honours for lawyers, equal pay for work of equal value, etc.
Scott is one of three Liberals who negotiated the current Liberal-NDP support pact in May 1985. He claims to be utterly powerless to close the abortion clinic, a policy which the NDP, of course, fully approves. Yet, he does not hesitate to lay charges against stores opening on Sunday, as often as is necessary to close them, we are told. The stores are breaching the law in the hope of influencing the issue when it comes before the Supreme Court in Marc 1986. Said Scott: “Insofar as police ascertain that stores are open, we intend to charge them.”
What Scott is willing to do with stores, he is determined not to do with the illegal abortion clinic. However, his current Sunday law stand may well be part of more posturing. A fellow “progressive” Cabinet member, Monte Kwinter, Minister of Consumer Affairs (and, therefore, in charge of stores and businesses), let it be known that he considers Sunday laws outdated.
While the Ontario Liberals are carefully defending their pro-abortion stand, another matter related to it (and also dear to the heart of their political partners, the NDP), is homosexuality. It is being moved forward for action. At the end of November, Ontario Cabinet member Bill Wrye, MPP for Windsor-Sandwich, let it be known that Ontario is considering protecting homosexual activities under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The terminology is “ending discrimination against sexual orientation.” Everyone, of course, opposes “discrimination.” By casting opposition to homosexual activity as discrimination, half the battle is won.
The other half consists in employing the terminology “sexual orientation.” It implies that the homosexual lifestyle is perfectly normal and acceptable. It allows advocates to deny indignantly that they are protecting homosexual activity, very much in the same fashion as the proponents of legal abortions in 1969 who denied any intention of “promoting” or even “approving” abortions.
Already in 1981, Mr. Wrye, recognized as “a leftwing Liberal,” voted in favour of special protection for the homosexual lifestyle, a measure rejected by the Ontario Conservatives who formed the government at the time.
Patrick Boyer (PC Toronto Etobicoke-Lakeshore), was Chairman of the Equality Committee of the House of Commons. The committee of seven, appointed in March 1985, held hearings during the summer and published its report Equality for all in November. (See Sabina McLuhan’s articles in October, November, December 1985 Interim.)
Four of the seven members, three of them women, are known pro-abortionists (Svend Robinson, NDP Burnaby; Mary Collins, PC Capilano; Sheila Finestone, Lib. Mount Royal and Pauline Browes, PC Scarborough Centre). Two others appear to be sort of uncommitted one way or another (Roger Clinch, PC Gloucester, N.B., and Paul Tremblay, PC Lotbiniere).
Boyer had been anxious in the September 1984 federal election to be recognized as fully anti-abortion, going to some length to present himself as such, without mentioning that he had significant reservations, which were discovered later on. His religion, too, seems utilitarian. According to his office, “his main church is Alderwood United;” yet, “he also attends Catholic Churches in his constituency,” the latter presumably, to be seen and recognized.
As explained in the article “Feminism’s basis values” (Interim, October 1985), there is a direct connection between abortion and homosexuality. Those who are “pro-choice” not only demand the right to choose abortion, but also the right to live any “lifestyle” they desire. One might therefore, have expected a majority of the Committee in favour of protection for “sexual orientation” under the Charter of Rights. One would equally have expected a minority to have resisted. It was not to be.
The Committee, however, is unanimous in seeking what amounts, in fact, to special privileges for homosexuality under the Charter of Rights. The Committee also recommends that the religious character of Sunday law be removed, and that common law marriages be recognized as equal to regular ones for the same reasons.
There is a final irony. Shortly after delivering his report, Patrick Boyer was among PC politicians in Ottawa who met with a large delegation of the R.E.A.L. Women organization. While with them he claimed to share most of the group’s views opposed to radical feminism. He even contended that their submission had a “moderating influence” on the Committee’s reports and “that there was about 80 to 85 per cent of it that I found myself nodding in agreement.” No sooner did this report appear in the newspaper than Mr. Boyer issued a disclaimer saying he is not an enthusiastic a supporter as news reports suggested and that “obviously I am not siding with the critics of my own report.” (Globe, November 22),1985).
One final comment! On November 17, 1985, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Flora MacDonald, M.P. for Kingston-The Islands, was in New York to give the keynote address to an Inter-American Women’s group. She warned her audience against being sidetracked by a “sterile debate” over worn-out issues. Typical of the radical feminist cast of mind is the phrasing of her reported remarks:
“Why campaign against pornography when this simply plays into the hands of those who would also restrict the freedoms and rights that we have won?…
“…The right to reproductive choice is under siege. Fundamentalists depict women as morally immature beings whose only proper role is a domestic one, subservient to male authority…”
While ideologically misrepresenting her opponents, Miss MacDonald also noted that “You must realize that the fight is far from over. To believe that the goal of real equality can be achieved without resistance and backlash is to belittle the determination of the opposition.”
(Montreal Gazette, November 18, 1985).
I hope she is right.