Post-conversation with Ray Boughen, MP for Palliser

the regina mom received a call from her Member of Parliament, Ray Boughen, this afternoon.  He said it was in response to her call about two University of Regina international students facing deportation but she had not, in fact, called.  She had emailed but didn’t press that fact with him.  In hindsight she suspects he must be feeling some heat over the issue since it hit the front page of the local daily.  When asked about his silence over it he said it is not his place to speak to that issue, that the Speaker, MP for Regina Qu’Appelle, Andrew Scheer, has spoken to it. He said he waits for his turn to speak and will be speaking on Aboriginal issues next week.

That led to a conversation about democratic process, the lack of political will for democratic process, followed by a tirade on trm‘s part.  She began with the lack of a national childcare strategy, filled the middle with the lack of support for single parent women and increased poverty in Canada and ended with a few stats on the increased numbers of people using food banks. That’s about when he accused trm of being a partisan and she defended herself claiming her feminist activism of more than 25 years and her being a mother of two young adults as the basis for her statements.  But still, he tried to dismiss her concerns as being partisan ones. trm suggested that he should read her blog.

When he attempted to blame the SK NDP government for the social problems she had mentioned, trm really let loose, informing him that yes, from time-to-time she has supported the NDP but did not support Roy and the boyz and their debt and deficit-cutting measures.  She also reminded him that she is a writer and as such, a researcher, one who bases her words on what she reads in books and on fact-based evidence.  His response was that we’re using different facts in our discussion.

So she switched her tune to the China-Canada FIPA and compared it to the FTA with the USA, mentioning how the former locks us in for 31 years and the latter allows us to give 6 months notice if we choose to break the agreement.

By that time he was really bumbling and went back to the earlier piece about democracy so trm mentioned Motion 312 about which he seemed to have no clue, suggesting it was a Bill, obviously not hearing what trm was saying. She reminded him that it was a Motion put forward by MP Stephen Woodworth as an attempt to reopen the abortion debate and noted that he supported it in spite of what his colleague, MP Gordon O’Connor, had said. He couldn’t recall what O’Connor had said so trm suggested he look it up on YouTube.  He said he didn’t have time so perhaps trm could tell him.  She did. Then he proceeded to parrot Woodsworth, saying that it wasn’t about reopening the abortion debate, blah-blah-blah. trm laughed and reminded him that he really needed to read her blog.

Seeing that she was on a bit of a role, trm then brought up the other F-word, fascism. She noted that even the right-wing Liberal, Michael Ignatieff, is using that word these days. He bumbled some more and wouldn’t listen, kept interrupting her and soon thereafter she told him this conversation was a waste of her time and his and hung up. As she pulled the receiver from her ear she could hear him saying another call was coming in and he had to go. A likely story. There were no phones ringing off the hook in the background; he said that to save face.

Though there’s much more that went on in the conversation, trm knows without a doubt that she has a useless excuse for a representative in Ottawa and maintains her adoption of MP for Churchill, Niki Ashton, as her MP.

#M312′s birth into Parliament and a personal response

the regina mom knows that Mr. Harper clearly stated, numerous times, that a Conservative government would not re-open the abortion debate. Yet, on Thursday, April 26, she watched Members of Parliament debate Motion 312, which ultimately seeks personhood rights for fetuses which would enable the re-criminalization of abortion, as well as deny the constitutional rights of all pregnant women.  In other words, it is yet another backdoor attack on women’s Charter rights.

And, the regina mom knows that the Prime Minister is not a stupid man, well, not unless power has gone to his head, that is. He must have known that Motion 312 was an attack on women’s rights. And, contrary to what some in the mainstream media and elsewhere have said, there are at least a couple of ways the Harper government could have stopped the abortion debate from being re-opened.

The blogger, Dr. Dawg, has clearly described how the Prime Minister and the all-party Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could have stopped Motion 312 from making it to the floor of the House of Commons.  Basically, there was not political will within either the Conservative Party to either further investigate it or stop it.  And so it proceeded.

A harsher way of stopping it could have been for the Prime Minister to expel MP Stephen Woodworth from the CPC caucus when he first got wind of Motion 312. Doing so would have sent a very strong message to Canadians, a message which would have indicated that he really meant what he said when he said, “No debate.” But the Prime Minister did not do that.  He lacked the conviction to demonstrate that strength.

Granted, when under pressure in the House of Commons he did say that he would oppose Motion 312. That, to the regina mom, was a small relief.  She was a tad more relieved when the government whip, MP Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State, spoke very eloquently against Motion 312.

Perhaps the greatest relief to the regina mom came when she was reduced to tears.  Perhaps it was not relief, but sadness, anger, appreciation, respect or perhaps a mixture of all.  But when  Niki Ashton, the NDP Critic for Women, delivered her speech in opposition to the motion the regina mom‘s tears started to roll. Perhaps upstaged by O’Connor on some points, Ms Ashton spoke to the heart of the issue for the regina mom.

The reality is that the issue of abortion was settled in 1988. In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law, ruling that it was unconstitutional. The justices found that the law violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it infringed on a woman’s right to life, liberty and security of person. That was 1988, almost 25 years ago, a generation ago.

This decision came about after years of work from women who, from across the country, sent the message that women ought to have the right to choose, that women ought to have the right to decide their future, that women ought to have the ability to define their destiny.

That fight also took place in the House of Commons. Our leader in 1987, Audrey McLaughlin, spoke out clearly, saying:

—limiting the right to the “personal care and control of one’s body” is a violation of a most “basic and fundamental right”, that of “reproductive choice.

As Ms. McLaughlin and others have pointed out, abortions, if they are not performed legally in medical facilities under the direction of a physician, will happen in much less favourable circumstances. As ugly as it may seem, women must not be forced to return to those ugly circumstances of using coat hangers, vacuum cleaners or putting themselves in the hands of quacks. “It is an ugly reality”, Ms. McLaughlin said, “but it is a reality.”

There were caravans, protests, lobby meetings, speeches and debates, and the issue was settled in 1988. When Canadians have been asked, time and time again a majority have supported a woman’s right to choose. Here we are in 2012, seeing the government reopen the debate on abortion. It has not been truthful about it either. Time and time again the Prime Minister and members of his party have said that they will not reopen the abortion debate. The Prime Minister declared:

As long as I am prime minister we are not opening the abortion debate…The government will not bring forward any such legislation and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated as long as I am prime minister.

That comes from an article in the Globe and Mail, from Wednesday, December 21, 2011.

An article written around that same time quoted the Prime Minister as saying, “As long as I’m prime minister we are not reopening the abortion debate”.

This is the Conservative Party’s Trojan horse agenda. During an election, and even here in the House of Commons, the Conservatives tell Canadians one thing. Then, as a minority government and now as a majority government, we see what they truly mean.

If the Prime Minister did not want a woman’s right to choose to be debated, we would not be here tonight. What is interesting is the Conservatives felt the need to tell Canadians something else so those same Canadians would vote for them. They waited until they won a majority to then uncover their hidden agenda.

Indeed, the hidden agenda is hidden no more.  the regina mom saw it right here on her computer screen.  She watched Members of Parliament debate a motion about abortion, a motion that was introduced by a Conservative Member of Parliament.  Perhaps it could be called the No Debate Debate.

The prochoice poem I read last night

Preamble

Tonight I wear red in support of my feminist sisters,
the Radical Handmaids, who gathered today on Parliament Hill
in opposition to Motion 312 which re-opens the abortion debate
tomorrow afternoon in the House of Commons.
And I share this poem.

 

Birthing change

1

Once upon a time his blue eyes dazzled her
maiden dreams           led her down dirt
roads, onto prairie trails, into abandoned
houses, churches, barns, unwittingly
preparing her for an entry that quivered her world,
sent her solo, pink-slipped, and with a growing belly
to face family, to seek and not find
solace in a religion she turned upside-down and inside-out.

2

His greenbacks, her choice:
law-breaker.  One little lie dupes doctors, the system.

How can she live knowing sin in so many ways, knowing nothing
will ever be the same?

3

She clings to the shiver of ecstasy
builds another world      in her mind other
possibilities, dreams.  How she clings, still.

4

He drove her to the streets.

5

She found circles of women singing
bread and roses, chanting in the streets
The personal is political!

Community, like a blanket, receiving,
bearing witness, holding,
keeping faith.

c. Bernadette L. Wagner

Just a Prochoice Poet Doing Her Thing

And more, perhaps.

As some of you may already know, the regina mom has taken to occasionally performing at the local slam poetry event in Regina, Word Up Wednesday.  This Wednesday, April 25, she will be there with new and old poems to share and be judged on.  She would love to see friends in the audience!

As well, watch this space — and others in the Canadian Progressive Voices blogosphere and beyond — for a blogburst on Motion 312, the motion put forward by a religious zealot in the House of Commons.  If passed M312 will re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

You can read more about the blogburst over at my friends’ place.

Starting today, all bloggers who support a woman’s right to choose can and should blog fiercely about this CONservative, regressive attack on women’s right to choose.

Rest assured, there will be many posts to read, covering many different angles on the issue — angles I hadn’t thought of before becoming active in the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada / Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement Canada and reading the multitude of materials available there.

If you haven’t already done so, please download, print and sign the petition in opposition to M312.  As signatures roll in the petition will be presented to the House of Commons by various prochoice Members of Parliament over the next while.  the regina mom managed to gather almost 20 signatures last night just by pulling it out of her purse!  Someone else did all the work getting her friends to sign.  Thanks for that, Karen!

And now I’m off to my sunshiny garden to contemplate what will be planted where this year.

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