Tuesday 26 July 2011

Here's the real 'gotcha'

I saw this this morning and thought: 'what a smarmy twerp. I'm going to demand rebuttal space.'

I contacted The Star and was just told I can't even write a letter to the editor under a pseudonym.

Unfortunately, I had already almost finished what I was going to send them. So here it is in all its non-DAMMITy glory. I'm planning on having another go -- complete with linkies -- later.
On Monday, July 25, editors of the online version of The Star saw fit to publish 'The Curse of Gotcha Politics' by Mark Penninga, executive director of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada and author of the web-page containing information on Tim Hudak’s 2009 position on abortion.

I wondered why this was appearing. Did Mr. Penninga have more information on Mr. Hudak's abortion stance? That would be good because, beyond a pledge not to reopen the abortion debate, Ontario voters do not know if he stands behind his 2009 position.

No, there was no more information on that issue.

Was Mr. Penninga or his Reformed Christian organization misrepresented in The Star and thus needed an opportunity to set things right?

No. Rather, he applauds The Star as the only media outlet to contact him.

So, where's the 'gotcha'? And what's his interest in it?

Amidst much faff about 'our use of media and technology, its dumbing-down impact on public discourse, and the hope of being able to have meaningful societal conversations about sensitive topics like abortion' and 'sensationalist "gotcha" politics', it appears that the gotcha was on him.

And I perpetrated it.

I am the unnamed blogger who 'happened to come across' the information that unleashed what Chris Selley at the National Post called 'online hellfire'. (I am also the target of a snide characterization as a blogger ‘with a chip on his or her shoulder'.)

To clarify, I have been blogging -- under a pseudonym, yes -- on women's rights and politics in general for more than five years. I didn't 'happen' on that information on Hudak's abortion stance -- he's in favour of defunding it, by the way -- I went looking for it.

And found it. Gotcha!

Now, suddenly, Conservatives and anti-abortion promoters are seemingly perplexed by the media and public's interest in this 'two-year-old article from an organization that nobody has heard of'.

Really? Then why did Penninga's organization think it useful for its members to know the position on 'pro-life' issues of the Ontario Conservative leadership candidates during the campaign in 2009?

Are Ontario voters as a whole not entitled to the same information?

I guess not. We are to be satisfied with the tight-lipped, Harper-esque 'we will not reopen the abortion debate' meme and refrain from 'sensationalist' politics.

Tut-tut, says Mr. Penninga. Mere chip-shouldered bloggers and 'Liberal spin-doctors' (that would be Warren Kinsella, who picked up the story from my blog) do not have the 'maturity and grace to understand' a serious issue like abortion. We 'poison the debate' and play 'cheap political games'.

My original question is perfectly legitimate. Would Tim Hudak as premier work to defund abortion? Yes, I know that abortion is a federal matter and he can't recriminalize it (however much his supporters may wish for that).

But health care is the biggest budget item in the province. And if you believe the squawking of the various Chicken Littles at the moment, the financial axe is about to fall on all kinds of things.

Medical services have been defunded in the past. Hospital beds have been closed.

Why not defund abortion? Why not defund certain types of abortion? Why not cut back on the locations it is available? Why not put up barriers to safe, legal abortion in the name of saving money?

Especially if it would garner the support of 'mature' and 'graceful' voters able to understand what this is about?

Mr. Hudak must answer the question. Would he defund abortion?

On a personal note: I'm delighted that a mere blogger, an ordinary citizen, could put the spotlight on this issue. All I did was dig a little. And find something that some would obviously prefer remain cloaked.

ADDED: Link to original post.


Dr.Dawg said...

Bravo. I'll do a shout-out later today.

deBeauxOs said...

Excellent Op-Ed piece, fern.

Kev said...

One can usually gauge the severity of the wound inflicted by the force of the reaction,it appears that you cut to the bone on this one

Great job Thanks

fern hill said...

Thanks. It was hard to keep the language SFW.;)

I am going to write on this again. You'll never guess which MP Penninga worked as an intern for.

Beijing York said...

Kudos fern!

J. A. Baker said...

Go get 'em, fern!

Dr.Dawg said...

's up.


fern hill said...

The good Dr's link.

Anonymous said...

Great piece. So glad we have people like you who know this stuff is important.

fern hill said...

Sister Sage is on it.

Jim Parrett said...

Fern, you deserve better. The Toronto Star disappoints. Penninga wanks.

fern hill said...

Thanks, Jymn. In truth, I didn't push the guy at The Star much. Maybe I should have.

And here's Jymn weighing in.

Zoom said...

Good digging and good rebutting!

fern hill said...


This is fun.

fern hill said...

I love all of you, but looky here! JJ is back.

Dr.Dawg said...

"JJ is back."

*stamps foot, arms akimbo*

Well! About time!


Anonymous said...

This is what pro-liar bloggers dream about! (Ahem, ahem...)

Congrats, Fern!

Alison said...

Brava, Fern! Been off the interwebs for a couple of days and only just heard about this.

From The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonald :
"After an internship with Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, Penninga landed a job as a spokesman for Focus on the Family Canada before founding his own Christian nationalist lobby, the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), backed by the country's Reformed churches. Announcing its arrival on the political scene, he threw a Parliament Hill seminar for MPs co-hosted by Vellacott and the Liberals' leading evangelical, John McKay, which featured a lecture from a respected Christian Reformed theologian entitled "God and Government: A Biblical Perspective on the Role of the State."

Bleatmop said...

Wow! Congrats Fern! Thanks for fighting the good fight!

JJ said...

Congrats, fern hill. Your work on this has been outstanding. When they start trying to twist the narrative with the "butbutbut Canada has no abortion law!" bs, you know you've not only struck a nerve, but yanked it right out and clawed it to shit.


(Hahaha! WV - mindgrind)

choice joyce said...

Thanks Fern, you are totally awesome, as we all know already of course.

susansmith said...

great post Fern. I tweeted your post.

Orwell's Bastard said...

Jumping on the bandwagon. I heard there was an open bar ...

Anonymous said...


fern hill said...

@Anonymous: You're in the minority here, I think. But thanks for stopping by.

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