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The bozo eruption continues, and, unlike all other seismic activity in history, it appears it’s contagious. Today, Stephen Harper, Canada’s CEO, said that Canada under his leadership would not fund abortion as part of its international maternal, newborn, and child health initiative. When asked to explain his reasoning, he said that this issue is “too divisive” to export abroad.

“We’re trying to rally a broad public consensus behind what we’re doing, and you can’t rally a consensus on that issue, as you know well in this country,” he said. Perhaps he was referring to a 2013 Angus Reid poll showing that 67% of Canadians favour abortion with some or no restrictions. Yes, perhaps he was referring to that poll, which showed that only 9% of Canadians think that abortion should either be outright illegal or only legal in cases of incest or rape. Maybe he remembered the part of that poll that showed that 59% of Canadians don’t want to reopen the abortion debate. If that was the case, then why is he reopening it?

Harper is right to seek a broad public consensus on any issue for which he plans to export Canada’s opinions abroad. The problem is that he has one- 67% of Canadians support abortion. In the world of politics, we call that a super majority, and it is often the support threshold for rewriting a constitution. Thankfully, our CEO isn’t willing to use that kind of muscle to get what he wants. He is a tactful man, so he wants everyone on side before he takes the company public.

He knows that it would be wrong, for example, to use taxpayer dollars to fund an advertising campaign in another country to promote a policy that only 52% of Canadians support. He knows that isn’t a broad consensus. So can our venerable leader, praise be upon him, explain why he chose to use Canadian taxpayers’ money to pay for TV ads for Keystone XL in the United States, when only 52% of Canadians approve or somewhat approve of the pipeline?

For that matter, what was the level of consensus on his majority government? Stephen Harper, Canada’s supreme moral authority, ascended from demi-god status to full-blown divinity with a mere 39.62% of the popular vote. For the forgetful reader: that is nowhere near a super majority. It is a best a plurality. Yet, for some reason, Harper has used that measure of popularity, a plurality, to unilaterally rewrite Canada’s environmental, online security, elections, and old age security laws. He also used it to appoint 58 Conservatives to the Senate. There must be a good explanation for this…either numbers lie, or this Prime Minister’s consensus threshold varies based on whether he supports or opposes the consensus opinion.

 

A "broad" consensusNathan Denette

A “broad” consensus
Nathan Denette

 

Give that some thought and you’ll reach a somewhat inevitable conclusion. Those numbers aren’t complicated. It’s hard not to trust them. They don’t lie. So forget MERS, bird flu, and all the other exotic diseases that have you curled up in a corner and showering in Purell. The real contagion is the bozo eruption. It’s already spread from one side of the House to the other, and those with experience in Canadian politics know that the only things to cross the floor before it were Scott Brison, David Emerson, Belinda Stronach, and lowbrow insults. In other words, this is a big deal. As shareholders in Stephen Harper’s company, we owe it to ourselves to remind our CEO that a “broad consensus” doesn’t mean “Stephen Harper”…it means a broad consensus. We get to decide when this company goes public. And if we agree on an issue, whether it’s abortion, pipelines, or anything else, he needs to honour our agreement. Otherwise, as they’re supposed to say in the private sector, “Stephen, you’re fired.”