They're billing it as the most MASSIVEST EVER ANTI-ABORTION CAMPAIGN (or some such).
I will have more to say about it later, but now I want to share a longish Facebook account by Adam Stirling*. It's self-explanatory.
I spent most of Friday evening at the University of Victoria watching the cross-country launch of what has been claimed to be the largest pro-life campaign in Canadian history.Adam's bio at his blog.
I've long been a vocal supporter of pro-choice policies, and because of this I have supported Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau's unequivocal stance in favour of reproductive freedom as I have considered seeking the nomination for the party. It is Mr Trudeau's stance in favour of women's reproductive rights that has supposedly sparked the #no2trudeau campaign being undertaken by this pro-life group.
After viewing the presentation, however, I have become convinced that this organization is little more than a willing or unwilling surrogate for the Conservative Party.
In what would become the disturbingly consistent theme of the evening, the presentation begins by identifying what it believes to be the source of Canada's abortion issue: the name Trudeau. After placing the anchor of blame on the policies of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the presentation glazes over decades of complex social change and legal battles and begins a relentless political attack upon on his son. This presentation attacks Justin Trudeau in regards to nearly every conceivable issue.
The presentation is supposedly about abortion, but it criticises Justin Trudeau's position on the development of Canada's oil sands and comments he's made about Canada's CF-18 fighter jets. It ridicules him over a press scrum in which he once spoke in the third person about his love for Canada. It questions his ability to manage Canada's finances, and it makes fun of his hair.
Furthermore, at no point does the seemingly partisan bombardment die down long enough to even acknowledge that the NDP exists.
Indeed, the speakers make mention of Canada's "two main parties."
I enjoyed the conversations with the legitimate attendees in the audience, but I don't think I've ever seen a more nakedly partisan anti-Liberal video presentation in my entire life.
The video made no mention of the PMO killing Conservative MP Mark Warawa's motions regarding the study of abortion. I was the one who had to ask the presenters about that. Stephen Harper has been stopping votes on abortion from taking place for 8-years. I asked: why isn't his face on the bus outside?
They were able to provide no logical answer.
I was honest with them. I said that the Liberal Party will not move on this issue. No candidate who would vote to reopen the abortion debate is permitted in the party. The difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives is the Liberals are honest about this issue.
The Conservatives will happily take votes from people like those in attendance at this event, but if pro-life views ever gain a foothold in the party, Harper will bring down the hammer again, just like he did with Warawa.
I understand why pro-life advocates might not support the Liberal Party, but it bothers me that the presenters seemed to suggest the Conservative party actually might act on their views. The audience was encouraged to support "pro-life" candidates, who would presumably only be in Conservative party. Audience members were even offered scripts with which they could perform public outreach work for these candidates. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
After repeated questioning, I was able to make the presenters admit to the audience that it is immensely unlikely Harper will re-open the issue of abortion. They can vote for Harper all they want, but the Conservative party will only pay lip service to the pro-life movement. It will not under any circumstances re-open the abortion debate any more than the Liberal Party will.
But it wasn't just the one-sided partisan nature of the attacks at this event that bothered me, it was the apparent lack of critical information. The speakers were unable to provide details sought by the audience regarding the legality of the Supreme Court ruling 27 years ago. Instead, they answered with vague details on how the state-by-state regulations vary in the United States. I had to speak up and clarify that Canada's Supreme Court found in 1988 that Section 251 of the Criminal Code violated Section Seven (Personal Security) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that this section of the Criminal Code could not be saved under Section One of the Charter. I'm not a lawyer and even I know that, but I'm not sure either of the speakers at the front of the room had any idea what I was talking about...
As for content, the video was horrible. At one point, it was little more than graphic images of fetuses, accompanied with high tempo music, mixed with repeated sound clips of both Justin Trudeau and Peter Mansbridge. The video jumped from topics such as slavery, to the Vietnam War, to Rosa Parks, to (as I mentioned) Justin Trudeau's hair...
There were inspirational quotes from Thomas Jefferson (what country is this?) and gushing, unironic praise of the bold leadership displayed on restricting abortion by George W. Bush, the "Leader of the Free World."
George W. Bush was praised...
And nobody laughed...
It was like I was trapped in a skit on Saturday Night Live... I really couldn't have created a more ridiculous parody of these videos if I had tried.
All that aside, it is not the content of this presentation that I found the most troubling. No, what was most troubling about this tangled mess of a presentation is what was *not* there.
I mentioned it to the organizers afterward, and they say they'll change it, but there is one word that I did not hear mentioned during the entire first half of the evening.
Do you know what that word is?
* Adam gave permission with this proviso: "reproduction consent does not imply endorsement on my part for any other content found on any site."