My latest: we’re all in Kansas evermore

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

But actually, we kind of are. Let us explain.

The famous line above, of course, was uttered by Judy Garland’s Dorothy character in the seminal motion picture, the Wizard of Oz. (With the full quotation being: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.“)

Whether you’re there or not, however, quite a few of us are thinking about Kansas this week. Because, on Tuesday night, the good people of reliably-conservative Kansas shocked all of the United States, and quite a bit of the world, too.

On Tuesday, Kansas voted in a referendum on removing a state constitutional protection for abortion, which would have had the effect of outlawing it. And the anti-abortion side lost. Dramatically. Decisively.

The side favored by abortion-hating Republicans was crushed, right across the landlocked Midwestern state.

In Kansas – whose anthem is Home on the Range, and where Republicans have dominated since Jesus was a little fella – 60 per cent of the state’s voters said they wanted to keep abortion rights.

That 60 per cent figure is notable, and not just because it represents a humiliating loss for the well-funded pro-life side. Sixty per cent is the share of the popular vote won by Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020.

The Kansas result can’t be just dismissed as an aberration or an outlier. The voter turnout was massive, and the pro-abortion side won convincingly in areas which Republicans once considered their personal playgrounds.

No more. For the GOP, the Kansas result suggests that this Fall’s midterm votes are no longer a foregone conclusion. If abortion is on the ballot – and after the Republican-dominated US Supreme Court gutted Roe v. Wade, it assuredly is – Tuesday night’s Kansas earthquake means that Democrats will benefit.

In the US, successive national polls have been showing a policy gulf between public opinion and Republican lawmakers. The US high court’s decision to expropriate women’s wombs has widened that gulf.

Canada‘s Conservative Party needs to pay attention to the progressive popular uprising in Kansas, but they probably won’t. Pierre Poilievre is far and away the frontrunner in the party’s leadership race. He has raised more money than all the others combined.

None of his fanatical followers seriously expects him to lose in in September, and some are already picking out drape swatches for their offices in the Langevin block. They will tell you they don’t care about little Kansas.

But Pierre Poilievre has a past, and a voting record. It’s easy to find, because he has never worked in the real world. And his voting record on social issues like abortion is problematic.

For years, the Ottawa-area MP could count on the unwavering support of the Campaign Life Coalition, the powerful lobby group that wants to outlaw abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia.

On its web site, the Campaign Life Coalition has for years given approving green check marks to Poilievre for voting for bills that would make it an offence to “kill or injure a pre-born child” — and to “protect women from coercion to abort.” For 99 per cent of his political career, Poilievre has opposed abortion. Period. 

When the Conservative leadership race commenced, Poilievre speedily attempted to execute a whiplash-inducing about-face. In one of the debates that he deigned to attend, Poilievre stammered that he was now pro-choice.

But he isn’t. Because he has admitted that, as Tory leader, he would let his social conservative caucus bring forward motions to outlaw abortion. 

That’s not pro-choice.

If that day were ever to come to pass, the result would be the same as we have seen in Kansas this week: it would fail. Canadians generally, and Canadian women in particular, are overwhelmingly pro-choice.

But the issue of abortion, and Pierre Poilievre’s ever-changing view on it, is a problem. For his party, and for him. In Canada, as in Kansas, the people know where they are. They know where they stand. 

And they will know, soon enough, that Pierre Poilievre doesn’t stand with them.