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Used to be all I’d want to learn was wisdom, trust and truth, now all I really want to learn is forgiveness for you — Collective Soul

Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Sanity prevails in the USA

Months and years of campaigning, more than$2.2 billion in election spending, over 100 million votes cast… and Americans in their wisdom decided to essentially maintain the status quo. President Obama returns to the White House for a second mandate. The Senate stays blue; the House stays red. But lest anyone was thinking that this whole thing was a giant waste of time, remember that it beats the hell out of the alternative.

I was on a plane for most of the evening, and while I was able to watch the results come in on satellite TV (thanks, WestJet!), I didn’t have internet access so no liveblogging of results. It was like a throwback to the pre-Web 2.0 years when you actually had to rely on traditional media sources for information. Well, unless you’re Barack Obama, author of the Tweet heard around the world.

The big vote

The race was close all night, but the nail-biter didn’t materialize. While both candidates were neck-and-neck in the popular vote for much of the evening, most of the highly contested swing states went one by one to Obama: New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia were called one by one for Team Obama. You could see the wind go out of the sails in the Romney camp as each one was declared, but Ohio finally solidified things shortly after 11pm ET. At that point, it was all over but the fat lady, whose singing will be heard in Florida just as soon as all those folks standing in line have a chance to vote.

Latest US election results 2012, as of 2:30AM ET on Nov 7th. Source: CNN.

So what happened to give the Obama team such a wide margin of victory, despite a 7.9% unemployment rate and widespread anger and disillusionment with the status quo?

Read the rest of this entry »

Stephen Harper hates women

If you don’t have enough reasons to vote against Harper and the Conservatives in the upcoming election, here’s some scary food for thought:

4 out of 9 of Canada’s Supreme Court Justices have mandatory retirement dates within the next five years. Guess who appoints Supreme Court Justices? That’s right, the Governor-General in “consultation with” (read: direction by) the Prime Minister.

And who do you think Harper will stack the courts with, given the opportunity? Given his government’s record, I only shudder to imagine.

The Supreme Court wields an enormous amount of power. And to show what can happen with years of stacked appointments, we need only to glance at our illustrious neighbours to the south, the United States:

Think it couldn’t happen here? Think again:

Pro-life supporters successfully influenced an as-yet unannounced government decision to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, says a Conservative seeking re-election.

Brad Trost, incumbent for Saskatoon-Humboldt, addressed the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association’s annual convention Saturday and thanked its members for their help in killing federal funding for the group.

In a recording of the speech, obtained by the Liberals and provided to the Toronto Star and Le Devoir, Trost claims a number of parliamentary victories for the pro-life movement, including a decision to deny funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

This is all part of a decision that was rendered by the Conservative government to exclude abortion funding from its maternal health plan for developing nations. Having denied access to abortion to women in other countries, now the government is setting its sights on our rights as Canadians.

And, lest you think that it’s only women’s reproductive rights that are under attack, rest assured that Stephen Harper doesn’t discriminate like that; he’s determined to attack all women’s rights.

But don’t worry, Stevie. You may hate women, but women hate you too:

Now here’s hoping that more Canadian women get jolted out of apathy and turn out and vote.

(Hat tips: Kirsten, Andrea, and the good people over at

Weekend update

  • The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was commemorated with free outdoor concerts and celebrations this weekend.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Obama healthcare reform bill in a narrow vote – a crucial first step towards a complete overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. But, as the New York Times reports, it came at a heavy price, with pandering to the anti-abortion movement. And the toughest fight may still be yet to come.
  • Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, frustrated by his “inability to make peace” (read: his inability to achieve victory over rival Hamas), plans to quit. True to form, he blames Israel for everything. Who’s surprised?
  • It’s a witch-hunt, as Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman allegedly responsible for shooting up a U.S. military base in Fort Hood is being investigated for terrorist links. Never mind that he was American-born, had served in the army for years as a psychiatrist, and seemed to have psychological problems. Nope, all it takes is for Americans to hear the word “Muslim” and they think they have it all figured out. Because everything’s always black or white, with no shades of grey, right? *Sigh*.
  • Quebec is being lauded for having the fastest H1N1 vaccine program. Really? Is it possible that, as disorganized as our program has been, everyone else’s is actually worse?
  • The Habs fell below .500 with last night’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Not only that, but thanks to a certain friend, I will no longer be able to watch Jacques Martin without thinking of The Count on Sesame Street.

Top 5 issues that are (thankfully) not part of the Canadian election campaign

As I watch the US presidential campaign unfold, it’s easy to feel a bit smug. Our election issues are – on the whole – pretty boring, mostly because things are – on the whole – pretty good here. Not to discount the importance of Arctic sovereignty or softwood lumber tariffs or anything. But compared to some of the issues before Americans, our elections are downright tame.

Here are the top 5 issues being hotly debated south of the border that are thankfully not really on the radar screen in our election:

  1. The war in Iraq. Because, well, we’re not actually fighting in it. The war in Afghanistan is, of course, an issue here, but it’s not nearly as divisive as Iraq is for Americans.
  2. Terrorism and national security. Canadians are just plain less worried about this issue than Americans are, no matter what side of it they are on. Whether it’s because we’re more rational or more naive, the fact is that most Canadians don’t really believe that there is an imminent threat of terrorism, and the issue really isn’t showing up in our election discourse.
  3. Gay marriage. It’s been legal nationwide since 2005. Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have tied the knot in Canada, our wedding industry has benefited from an influx of marriage “tourists” from the US, and everyone else basically yawned and went on with their lives. Even Stephen Harper isn’t bothering to rehash the issue in this campaign, recognizing the futility of beating a dead horse.
  4. Abortion. Yeah, there have been a few rumbles, which have mostly consisted of scare-tactics by the Duceppe camp against Harper – who has stated that he has no plans to re-open the issue. As explosive as the issue is in the US election, here, it’s basically a non-issue, just as it has been in virtually every Canadian election campaign since the 1970s.
  5. What our candidates look like. While Americans choose between their first-ever African-American president and their first-ever female VP, us Canadians have an election that’s about the candidates’ politics and not about their skin colour or background. Of course, that’s because they’re all a bunch of white guys (except for Elizabeth May). But I suspect that even if our PM candidates were a bit more representative of the country, we’d still manage to talk less about their skin colour or gender than the Americans do. Besides, Kim Campbell won’t exactly go down in history as a great Canadian leader, but I’d still rather have her than Sarah Palin any day.

The economy is, without a doubt, the #1 voting issue for both Americans and Canadians. As it should be. Polls have shown that the other top election issues for Canadians are healthcare, the environment and poverty. We can hopefully expect these issues to dominate tonight’s debate, and the above issues to hardly rate a mention.

Sometimes, it’s good to be Canadian.

On Sarah Palin

Some rare insight from a columnist who I usually disagree with, the Gazette’s Janet Bagnall:

Palin is a true-blue representative of her party. She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and against gay marriage. Her opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape and incest. The women who backed Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the nomination for presidency don’t generally ascribe to those values.

[ . . . ]

Tokenism is an insult, an insidious one whose effects are difficult to erase over time. People will forget that there were other options on the Republican table, capable, long-serving, proven women like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas – and that McCain ignored them in favour of doing something headline-grabbing. That effect is already starting to wear off. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll this week found, “Three quarters of all voters think McCain chose a female running mate specifically because he thought adding a woman to the Republican ticket would help him win in November.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the otherwise politically-savvy selection of Palin. Choosing a candidate solely because she’s a woman is no better than systematically denying opportunities to qualified people because they are women.

And while McCain no doubt sees Palin’s stance on issues like abortion and gun control as qualifications, not drawbacks, given the socially conservative voters he’s trying to attract, the fact remains that Palin is much less qualified than the myriad other choices that McCain had – of both genders. She was chosen for her youth (to contrast McCain’s age) and her gender, proving that tokenism is no better than discrimination, after all.

And on the issues front

The sweeping gains made by Democrats tonight only tell half the story. There were also a number of issues votes that, if nothing else, indicate that the country is feeling more anti-Bush right now than pro-Liberal. For example:

  • Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage won approval in South Carolina, Tenessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, with similar amendments on the ballot in 4 other states also expected to pass once the votes are tallied. This would mean that a total of 28 states – more than half – will have banned gay marriage in the U.S., delivering a serious blow to the hopes of people in favour of equality and civil rights.
  • Arizona passed measures against illegal immigrants, including making English the state’s official language.

On the other hand:

Some analysts have further noted that, though Democrats made significant gains, they may have done so at the expense of ideology, since many of the newly-elected Democrats are much more moderate than Liberal while many of the defeated Republican incumbents were on their party’s more moderate wing. So the House (and possibly the Senate) may have shifted to the left, but both parties actually shifted to the right in the process.

What will it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

Since when was this an issue?

I can’t help but wonder why, with a week left until the election and with the issue never having been on the table in the first place, abortion rights are suddenly making news.

Whatever my reservations about the Tories, I can’t imagine that they would take steps to restrict a woman’s right to choose. And although the attack is supposedly coming from an independent source, it’s difficult not to read between the lines and attribute this to the Liberal strategy of trying to paint Harper with the U.S. right-wing fanatic brush. Martin might think he’s scoring points, but the scare tactics are looking much more like desperation tactics at this point.

Gotta love the Onion

There’s nothing better than satire done right. This week’s headline: Bush Nominates First-Trimester Fetus To Supreme Court:

WASHINGTON, DC — In a press conference Monday, President Bush named a 72-day-old gestating fetus as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat that opened following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

“Already, this experienced and capable embryo has demonstrated during his or her in utero existence a deep commitment to the core principles of the Constitution,” Bush said. “It is with great pride that I nominate this unborn American patriot to the highest court in the land.”

If confirmed by Congress, the bean-sized vertebrate would be the nation’s first prenatal Supreme Court justice.

I bet if Bush could find a way to do it, he would.

Reshaping the Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s death on Saturday left another key opening on the court and Bush wasted no time announcing his nominee, appeals court judge John Roberts.

Rehnquist was a conservative, so it’s not as though Bush is replacing a liberal with a conservative. Still, by some accounts, Roberts is much less moderate than Rehnquist was, and his confirmation could spell the end of an era in U.S. judicial policies:

Everything known about Roberts suggests he would join with the most conservative justices to change the law in a conservative direction. As deputy U.S. solicitor general, Roberts coauthored briefs expressly urging the court to overrule Roe vs. Wade. As an attorney in the Justice Department, Roberts drafted an article arguing that there is no constitutional protection for privacy.

Other opinions are less doomsday-ish:

Roberts is not Scalia or Thomas. He is not a right-wing judicial activist eager to chisel away the liberal expansion of the Constitution in recent decades in order to restore some halcyon original intent on the part of the Constitution’s authors.

That’s a bit too chaotic for Roberts, who seems to revere the law’s ability to provide society with a sense of order and predictability. The most-parsed statement by Roberts came in his 2003 confirmation hearing to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, when he said that the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to an abortion based on the right to privacy is “the settled law of the land.” Critics say he will think it’s less settled when he is in a position to overturn it, but that seems implausible. In fact, send me a self-addressed envelope within a week and I will mail you $1 (and pay for postage) if Justice Roberts votes to overturn Roe.

All of that is speculation at this point. All we really know is that Bush is stacking the court with two more staunch conservatives, and that certain hard-won rights and liberties may – may be in jeopardy. Depending on what side of the aisle you’re on, I guess this is either a golden opportunity or the greatest catastrophe imaginable.

Even the so-called safeguard of confirmation hearings that exists in the U.S. and not here in Canada (and is often advocated in Canada to avoid political appointees here) can’t curb the power of a President to pick political appointees when his party also has a Senate majority. Here’s hoping that Roberts is a lot more moderate than he seems, because a Chief Justice will continue to influence a country long after any given president is long out of office and busily engaged in book tours.

Why Bush’s re-election scares me

Because of things like this:

Republican senator who has questioned whether an abortion opponent could win approval to the U.S. Supreme Court must agree to back President Bush’s nominees if he is to head the committee acting on those nominations, the Senate’s Republican leader said.

Bush has four years to fill Supreme Court seats with basically no opposition. He doesn’t have to think about future re-election anymore. He has a majority in both houses and a huge debt to the far-right conservative Christian groups. Stacking the court to overturn Roe v. Wade may be only the beginning.

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