Not in Sunday’s Sun: Trudeau and abortion – early!

In political terms, the best – and safest – line on abortion is the one Bill Clinton came up with, some years ago.

“Abortion should not only be safe and legal,” said the former president, “it should be rare.”

That, pretty much, sums up the position on abortion of the three main Canadian political parties. Everyone aspires to live in a world where abortions are unnecessary, but everyone also accepts that we do not presently live in that world.

Not so long ago, the Liberals and the Conservatives were of a different view. They mostly opposed abortion, and they passed laws to reflect that view. Even the New Democrats had caucus members who were resolutely opposed to abortion.

Times changed. The courts pronounced, the politicians reversed. Nowadays, the law and the law-makers have come around to the Clinton line: safe, legal, rare.

The journey of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ruling Conservatives, in this regard, has been revealing. Not so long ago, Harper and his party were proudly, and loudly, pro-life. That was their position.

Once they achieved a Parliamentary majority, they abruptly changed course: while the Tories (per Clinton) didn’t like abortion, they weren’t going to “reopen” the most divisive social issue of modern times. Over and over, that is what Harper and his people have said: abortion won’t be on the agenda while he is in charge.

Harper hasn’t wavered, in that regard. He has crushed any and all attempts to revisit the abortion debate – most of which have emerged from his own backbench. He has been true to his word.

Which brings us, in a circuitous fashion, to Justin Trudeau. On Wednesday, the Liberal leader pronounced on abortion. In a scrum on the Hill, he mainly said what Clinton – and Harper, and Jean Chretien, and Paul Martin, and even his father, Pierre Trudeau – had previously said.

“Our position as a party is we do not reopen that debate,” Trudeau said, sounding a bit like Harper.

But then, he went a bit further. “We are steadfast in our belief [in the Liberal Party], it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. And that is the bottom line.”

Not quite. There was another bottom line to come, and it immediately became news.

Said Trudeau: “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

And, with that, Trudeau did two things. One, he disposed of any lingering hope that he still favours so-called “open nominations.” In his Liberal Party, if you want to be a candidate, you must vote pro-choice. Or you’re out.

Two, by seeking to close the abortion issue, he has effectively re-opened it. Chretien, Martin and Trudeau’s father all knew that Catholics have historically tended to be Liberals. By moving well past the Clinton line – by making one’s position on abortion an actual condition of membership in the Liberal caucus – Trudeau risks dividing his party, and losing votes.

Personally, I always thought Justin Trudeau’s open nominations promise was rash – ironically enough, because it would make the party vulnerable to pro-life riding takeovers, as happened in 1990. But Trudeau made the promise, all on his own, and he needed to stick by it. He didn’t.

Personally, too, I favour the Clinton line, as do many other Liberal Catholics. Liberals have always made room for pro-life folks, and thereby not allowed the issue to tear us apart. It was smart politics, among other things.

So, what, then, is Justin Trudeau’s vision for the Liberal Party? What is his plan? I honestly don’t know.

And, on days like these, I don’t think he does, either.


Laura Miller’s legal guy responds

I like it.  Hope it ruins your day, Ms. MacLeod.

“Today, Lisa MacLeod sent a letter to the OPP implying that Laura Miller was somehow involved in impropriety related to the cancelled gas plants.  Her allegations are false and defamatory. Ms. Macleod has a track record of such conduct. In a co-ordinated effort, her party then released the letter to the media. Ms. MacLeod and her party are not interested in the truth. Ms. MacLeod is a political opportunist who has no grasp of or interest in the facts. Her attack on Ms. Miller is nothing more than a ploy aimed at trying to right a sinking ship that is the PC election campaign. Had Ms. MacLeod’s party supported the budget, Ms. Miller would be testifying tomorrow and answering any questions posed by Ms. MacLeod.”


The Ontario PCs, and the loathsome Lisa MacLeod, just attacked my friend Pete Faist

…and my friend Laura Miller, too.

They want a war? It’s a war they’ll lose. They really, really don’t want me off the bench. I’ll fuck them up for free.

How about this? Know about any other PC candidates, campaign managers, etc. with run-ins with the law – like our law-and-order pal Yakabuski, below – that you care to share? Convictions, citations, warnings, speeding tickets, whatever: send them to me here and we’ll have some fun.

How did Yakabuski get allowed into the Legislature without a criminal record check, for instance?


Man pleads guilty to assault

The Ottawa Citizen
Thu Dec 8 1988
Page: B3
Section: Local – VALLEY
Byline: Carol Doran
Dateline: KILLALOE
KILLALOE – A 31-year-old Wilno man pleaded guilty here Wednesday to charges of assaulting a police officer and attempting to obstruct justice in connection with a car accident in Wilno last January.

John Yakabuski, who had earlier entered not guilty to the charges, reversed his plea just before his trial was scheduled to start at provincial court here.

He is scheduled for a pre-sentence hearing March 1.

Yakabuski is the manager of a family-owned hardware store in Barry’s Bay. He is a son of the late Paul Yakabuski, MPP of the former provincial riding of Renfrew South.

Four other related charges, to which Yakabuski had pleaded not guilty, were withdrawn by Assistant Crown Attorney John Pepper.

Pepper said all the charges resulted from a Jan. 25 incident in which Yakabuski was a passenger in a vehicle driven by 35-year-old David Afelskie.

Court was told the two men were returning home from an ice fishing expedition at Lake Clear in Sebastopol Township when the vehicle went out of control at about 5:55 p.m. on Church Street in Wilno.

The two men took a quantity of alcohol from the crashedvehicle and made their way to the home of Rose-Marie Kuiack, who lived across the street, Pepper said.

After police arrived, Yakabuski and Afelskie went by ambulance to Barry’s Bay hospital. During the trip, Yakabuski became unruly and had to be restrained by ambulance staff.

Yakabuski crawled under the ambulance to prevent the vehicle from proceeding to the hospital, and was eventually forced to the ground by police and ambulance staff, handcuffed and put in a police cruiser.

Defence lawyer Tom Edmonstone suggested Yakabuski may have suffered a brain injury during the accident which could have influenced his behavior that night.

© 1988 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

Get ready

No, it’s not Photoshopped. He sat in his brother’s chair, and his idiot buddy did the sign.

It’s sort-of entertaining, of course, but I can tell you that the Fords (a) have indeed strategized about DoFo stepping in for RoFo, if rehab is no, no, no (b) know they could not win with Doug, but would (at that point) simply be interested in rehabilitating their name with Conservative mucky-mucks.

In Tuesday’s Sun: elections are good, not bad

The great thing about living in a democracy is, well, living in a democracy.

Characteristics of a democracy include things like power exercised by citizens, or officials elected by citizens. Majority rule, but with human rights, equality, freedom of media, speech and religion. And – most significantly, for the purposes of this morning’s civics discussion – free and fair elections.

Elections are good. But, surveying the aforementioned media, some days, you’d never know that.

Take, for example (please), Ontario. In a couple days, an election is about to get officially underway in Ontario. And that is a good, good thing.

Many hacks and the flaks, however, don’t think so. Kathleen Wynne is one of them. Wynne was selected as Ontario Liberal leader by a few hundred Grit delegates more than a year ago, but she hasn’t been elected by millions of Ontarians in a general election. Despite that, she very much gave everyone the impression she wanted to continue in that role – Selected, not Elected – for the foreseeable future. The pesky Opposition, however, decided to vote against her 2014 budget. The arrogance!

Mortified, Wynne later appeared at a Toronto bar to sound mortified. “We would have loved to have had the opportunity to immediately implement that budget, but [NDP Leader] Andrea Horwath and [PC Leader] Tim Hudak decided they want an election,” she said, with a straight face. Behind her, Liberal staffers held up prepared signs reading “WHAT LEADERSHIP IS,” apparently unaware that, grammatically, you should never end a sentence sounding like Yoda. (Or, politically, raise a question you can’t answer.)

Wynne’s candidates were also in high dudgeon over the Opposition, you know, opposing. For example, the Liberal candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin, Craig Hughson, has been getting ready for an election for months. But there he was in the Manitoulin Expositor over the weekend, professing his shock and horror that democracy has unexpectedly broken out. “I am surprised but ready for this unnecessary election,” said Hughson, an authority in sucking and blowing at the same time.

So too some media. The Toronto Star’s biggest front-page story in Sunday’s paper huffed that the Opposition’s desire to have an election was “backfiring,” quote unquote. “Forcing” Wynne into the June 12 election, as the Star put it, was somehow a bad thing. Why?

Well, because a poll told them so. The Liberals were going to win again, decreed the pollsters, so why bother? Left out of the Star’s analysis was disclosure that the polling firm in question, Forum, had previously declared that the Wildrose Party would win a huge majority in Alberta in 2012 (wrong), the Parti Quebecois would win a huge majority in 2012 (wrong), and that the B.C. NDP would win a huge majority in 2013 (wrong).

But the message – from the selected Premier, the unelected candidates, and some feckless media – was the same: elections are unwanted. They’re “unnecessary,” even.

Sorry, but that’s a damnable lie. Every day, in every part of the world, millions of people pray that they could have what Canadians have. They risk life and limb to get here, in fact, to live in a democracy. And, at the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, they know that you cannot have democracy without elections.

The likes of Wynne and Hughson deserve to be condemned for implying that democracy is unwanted. It isn’t.

They, however, may well be after June 12.