“Party discipline has become absurdly over-used.” So said Justin Trudeau in the plank of his platform entitled Democratic Reform: Trusting Canadians.
“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.” So says his successor, Justin Trudeau, after a caucus meeting this week.
Sadly, this is what we’ve come to expect from the boy-wonder, who flip-flops every month of the year. Last month, it was open nominations, seeing Zach Paikin (golden-child 2.0) resign in protest. This month, Trudeau flip-flopped on open nominations, saying that only demonstrably pro-choice candidates would be allowed to run.
I’m not going to try to play devil’s advocate here and pretend that being staunchly opposed to abortion in every possible case is a politically acceptable view in today’s society. Because not only is it not, only 6% of Canadians support that view (no matter how much Justin Trudeau pretends otherwise). The abortion debate in Canada today is instead among that other 94% of the country, which breaks down in interesting ways.
Canadians are divided on where the line should be drawn. Should third trimester abortions be legal? Are abortions okay in the 30th week? What about the 38th or 41st? What about sex-selective abortions, or terminating a fetus who had a possibility of being born with mental illness?
I do not know the answers to these questions, but I think they are discussions worth having. What does Justin Trudeau consider pro-choice, and why is that the only acceptable variant of the myriad ways that Canadians consider themselves pro-choice? There are still tough questions to be asked on the subject (and national conversations too), and it’s distressing to see that Trudeau would rather lock these individuals out of the party than have a meaningful debate on the issue.
What’s most important to understand is that abortion will never be banned in this country, especially not with a Liberal government in power. There will likely never be a vote on an abortion-related matter if Trudeau was in power, just as there have been none with Harper in power. So why has he made a point of telling prospective MPs weary of third trimester abortions that they should stay home? My guess is politics. It’s a shame that we spend more time in our system trying to undercut our opponents rather than winning hearts and minds to our own side. But that’s the nature of popularity contests: as long as you’re the most popular, it doesn’t matter how you got there.