The answer is no, but not for lack of trying by the Liberals and NDP. Yesterday Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said that all candidates for the Liberal Party in the 2015 election must be pro-choice, igniting a fiery party discipline debate. The media jumped on Trudeau like a pack of hungry wolves, but you’ll never guess who came to his rescue: Thomas Mulcair! Mulcair publicly agreed with Trudeau today by saying that all NDP caucus members must also be pro-choice. The Liberals and NDP clearly learned from that experience and others that they need to find a way to rally the country against the Conservatives, or they may ride their safe base to another electoral victory of some kind. What better way to vilify the Conservatives than with abortion! Nobody likes a baby-killer, so if they can get the public to think exclusively about abortion for more than 365 days, this could be a viable election strategy.
This is a textbook elementary school playground fight. In order to get all the other kids to see them as the most popular, Tommy and Justin are pointing to an issue in which Stevie is the odd one out. The Conservatives seem to have a safe electoral cushion, so each of the other leaders has little to lose. J.T. sees himself on a meteoric rise, so teaming up with Mulcair won’t hurt since he is clearly much more popular (read: handsome). Mulcair wants to continue to be seen as a legitimate contender and is doing whatever he can to get into headlines fighting for issues. Any issues.
Canadians have a notoriously strong socially liberal stance on abortion, as demonstrated when a Conservative MP had the audacity to try to open the abortion debate last year, based on the fact that Canada is on the short list of countries in the world, along with China and North Korea, in which you could legally get an abortion in the 9th month of pregnancy (though a doctor here would never do it), and she was pummeled by the popular press and highly informed social media users all over the country. Somehow it seems that the NDP and Liberals are not worried about losing the sizeable pro-life vote in Canada, so they can afford this move.
What is amazing is how they don’t see the potential for this to backfire. Instead of turning abortion into a ballot box issue, which Canadians would never do because it’s been so politically unimportant for so many years, this could turn into an election about principles and party discipline, in which Trudeau and Mulcair look like tyrants this week. Regardless, 2015 is far away and somehow it seems unlikely that the ballot box question will be decided today. The trend of Trudeau and Mulcair ganging up on Harper though, that will likely be here to stay.