04.01.2013 06:46 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: mutiny on the S.S. Harper

As uprisings go, it sure ain’t The Mutiny On The Bounty.

Not yet, anyway.

As you may have heard, last week Official Ottawa was agog over the fact a couple of Conservative backbench sheep finally got up on their hind legs and bleated “no” to the boss. An avalanche of columns and news stories immediately ensued, including some that actually went as far as suggesting Stephen Harper’s corpse might soon be swinging from the yardarm.

The Toronto Star: It’s a Conservative “revolt!”

It’s “a rare show of courage!” enthused The Globe and Mail. It could be the beginnings of a “leadership challenge!” wrote one respected columnist.

Um, not quite.

The beginnings of the mini-mutiny can be traced, mostly, to the abortion file. Some of the nobodies and lunkheads in the Conservative caucus still want to try to make abortion illegal. They have devised all manner of clever motions and resolutions to achieve that.

Ship captain Stephen Harper, however — to his credit, and to the surprise of people like me, who wrongly said he had a hidden agenda on abortion — has said no way. He has ruthlessly crushed any and all attempts to kickstart the abortion debate.

Harper has been more resolute on the abortion issue, in fact, than any prime minister in a generation.

He deserves credit for that. He said he wasn’t going to reopen abortion, and he meant it. Harper’s party pledged to leave abortion alone in successive election campaigns, and they did just that.

The motley crew below decks, however, aren’t satisfied.

So they’ve devised dishonest tactics and tricks to move the country back to the bad old days, when the only choice women had were coat hangers in back alleys.

Some of the MPs say they are focused on “gender discrimination,” or what constitutes “complete birth.” They’re lying. They want to make abortion illegal and they lack the guts to say so out loud.

Some of them, meanwhile, aren’t upset about abortion at all. Instead, they’re upset about something else — two tiny letters, which they would like to see appended to their names on fancy letterhead: “P.C.”

As in, privy councillor. They figured they’d be in cabinet by now and, seven years in, the mutinous MPs have finally figured out they won’t be. So they’re popping off at Captain Harper.

Should the conservative captain be concerned? Yes and no. Yes, because when your government is slipping in the polls, as his is, you need all the shipmates rowing in the same direction.

But, also, no. This pipsqueak revolution, led by pipsqueaks, is nothing like what Jean Chretien loyalists (like me) had to contend with a decade ago. Back then, ambitious Paul Martin supporters used every dirty trick in the book to hurt Chretien and drive him out.

Chretien, however, fought back and ended up staying far longer than he’d planned. All the Grit mutineers ended up doing was sinking the S.S. Liberal. And themselves.

Captain Harper quickly put down last week’s rebellion, and the anti-abortionists and the overambitious sailors have — for the moment — gone quiet. If I were advising Harper, however, I’d advise this: Throw a few of the nobodies overboard and make everyone watch as the sharks tear them to pieces.

Things will be shipshape again, and in no time at all, too.


  1. Steve T says:

    So… if this were a different issue (one that had more favour with the majority of Canadians), would we still be praising Harper for standing resolute? Or would we be praising the “renegade” MPs who “choose their conscience over party lines” (or some other similar noble attribution)?

    While I disagree with the views of these MPs, I admire them far more than the line-toeing monkeys who simply stay silent to ensure they can ascend the party ranks. What Canada needs is not more party robots. Canada needs more autonomous MPs.

    • CuJoYYC says:

      “While I disagree with the views of these MPs, I admire them far more than the line-toeing monkeys who simply stay silent to ensure they can ascend the party ranks.”

      They’ve been “line-toeing monkeys” bleating the official talking points issued by the puppeteers in the PMO for SEVEN YEARS! How can you admire them now? None of these fringe malcontents would ever have the option of ascending the party ranks.

  2. Esther Fitzgerald says:

    Quite right – MPs being “just nobodies” once they got 50 yards off Parliament Hill. Even semi-competent political scientists know that the Prime Minister of Canada, via the PMO (a Trudeau invention) wields more power than any other executive of a representative democracy – indeed, sovereign democracy or benign oligarchy might be the more accurate term for the system.

    Good job reframing the debate about gender selection – who cares if society starts aborting females and we end up in a nightmare scenario like China – 120:100 male to female ratio – with all the concomitant social problems – social unrest, spiraling STI rates as those 20 extra males go with prostitutes, etc.

    So here’s to making who the people elected walk the plank. Don’t think. Don’t speak. Don’t write. Just repeat the ghost-written, thought terminating clichés as we adore the Dear Leader de Jure and the multiculturalist revolution unfolds in another five-year plan.

    Venal, servile commissars. I do hate you.

    • Lousy job re-framing the abortion debate as a debate on gender selection. No actual grown-up believes you for a second that this is what it is about.

      “Venal, servile commissars. I do hate you.”

      That sums you up pretty well, a hater with a cause.

      • West Coast Jim says:

        Esther dear – please turn off the computer before you break out the Sherry for the evening. Otherwise you will just continue to embarress yourself.

  3. Sean says:

    Chretien would say… “When you plan a conspiracy… Don’t miss!”

  4. Tiger says:

    55% of delegates to the Conservative policy convention in 2005 endorsed making no changes to abortion laws in Canada (45% wanted to restrict third trimester abortions).

    If the PM wants to defenestrate a backbencher or two, party policy as voted on by the activists is on his side.

  5. Reality.Bites says:

    These people weren’t left out of cabinet because they’re anti-choice. Much of Harper’s cabinet is or has been vocally anti-choice.

    They were left out because they’re idiots. People who couldn’t oversee a church bake sale, let alone a government department.

  6. Kathy M says:

    I think it is all staged. Stevie gets to say, for the sake of democracy, the most altruistic reason, that he has to forego his election promise and allow the MP’s their voice on the topic of abortion. Full control remains intact. Backbenchers happy. They have received more press time from this ruse than if they were talking about the issue. And we are snookered again.

    • Especially when you consider just how much mileage the CPC get sout of pro-life activists. Deniable ‘private members bills’, in a steady stream to keep the troops riled up and convinced that ONLY the CPC cares about them. But absolutely forget about any substantive progress. The pro-lifers might actually drift away from the CPC the same way that long gun registry campaign has disappeared. I cannot thnk of a single interest group in Canada of more importance to the CPC than the pro-lifers, so you can bet your bottom dollar that the CPC will keep them dangling until the cows come home. I mean, what would the CPC do without all those tens of thousands of volunteers, donors, and voters motivated by this issue, and this issue alone?

  7. po'd says:

    Use of hyperbole (coat hangers) aside, I see no valid reason why the sex selective abortion issue should be banned from public discussion nor from the House of Commons. Bringing the hammer down on 60 second statements is also anti democratic and the intended role of elected representatives, even if the particular group currently complaining are long term right wing bobble heads.

    Abortion issues shouldn’t be seen as a sacred cow, particularly when the protectors of womens rights are willing to go as far as approving abortion because some people want to choose the sex of their child like they would choose a new wardrobe item. I won’t engage in hyperbole, but I think if a person is ok with aborting a fetus based on it’s sex, then you shouldn’t have a child.

  8. KP says:

    As someone who has lived in his riding in the past, let me just say without reservation that Mark Warawa is an awful, awful person. Crappy MP, worse person. Caters to the hard, religious, conservative right (which only comprise a small percentage of the people who blindly vote for him) in his riding to the exclusion of nearly all others. He shouldn’t have been muzzled – I’ll leave it to smarter people than I to explain why – but let’s not forget he’s not a martyr at all.

  9. Skulander says:

    Excellent column. Stephen Harper has always been very clear: this issue will not be re-opened. Sure, he might be secretly please that some MPs are re-opening the debate. You know, a small appeal to the base… To throw them a bone, so to speak. But Harper knows this issue would sink his ship. The antichoice faction in the Conservative government is a loud minority but Harper knows he simply cannot afford to have them scream louder than they already have. Canada is a pro-woman, pro-choice country. We will not let this heritage go away, we will not let a bunch of nobody MPs endanger women’s lives and health.

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