Thursday, January 12, 2006

Martin's white knuckles

I'm not talking about the attack ads. I'm talking about Paul Martin getting right into it on CBC's Townhall Meeting with Peter Mansbridge in Guelph tonight.

First, I have to admit I tuned in a bit late. But luckily not too late to see Martin answer a woman's question about the wisdom of his sudden promise in last Monday's debate to do away with the Notwithstanding clause, at least as far as Ottawa's power is concerned. Why should an unelected group of judges have final say over elected representatives?

Suffice it to say, the man had a ready answer.

He prefaced it by pointing out that sometimes majority governments are voted in by less than 40% of the voting public (as in 1997), and that in a country made up of minorities, the Charter is the only protection we have to thwart a bullying majority from enforcing its will against them.

He then explained his reasoning by planting a seed about the Harper braintrust's true intentions, referencing Stockwell Day's anti-abortion stance, and the CPC President's road-map for enacting legislation against minority rights, (in particular, taking away a woman's right to choose). He didn't even have to mention Cheryl Gallant, saying that the plan is for a private member's bill to be brought to a vote in the House, which a Conservative majority would then enact, making abortion illegal (even though doing so is not a part of their official platform; and like so many other controversial items on the well-known right-wing agenda, Harper's stock answer is that he categorically has "no plans" to do so, or that it isn't part of party policy.)

Then it would be: hey, what do you know, we made abortion illegal (my words, not Martin's).

Connecting the dots, Martin went on to say that court challenges would likely follow, and eventually, the Supreme Court would be asked to decide on the constitutionality of the legislation. (All this time - presumably years - the law of the land does not include a woman's right to choose, remember.) Assuming the SC eventually struck down the new law, the government could then use the Notwithstanding clause to overrule the Court (and the Charter) to stop women in Canada from "being able to choose" as he put it. And this could be done for many other rights protected by the Charter, of course.

Hence, as a true believer in minorities' rights, he has concluded the Notwithstanding clause must not be a tool for the federal government.

So he as much as said a Harper majority government would result in abortion becoming illegal in Canada. The look of the faces on the women in the audience was telling - you could see they were thinking this all through, that a seed had been sown. And I actually found myself cheering Martin on - both for his deft answer and for his new willingness to clearly spell out what Harper and the wingnuts on his team are hoping to achieve.

The polls aren't looking good for the Liberals right now, but if Martin keeps putting in performances like this, I'm not ruling him out yet. The gloves are indeed off.

- 30 -

Big time "Tip o' the hat" to Dave at The Galloping Beaver


Dave said...

Many thanks for the great synopsis, Scott. I missed everything except the last couple of minutes. Let's hope Martin keeps swinging for the guts.

And thanks for the credit and the link! We will just keep hammering away...

CathiefromCanada said...

For Christmas, my son got me a "Dorrie" stuffed fish -- you know, the one who said "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Maybe I should send it to Paul Martin -- just keep swimming, Paul, and maybe, just maybe . . .

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

I am not a lawyer,but with respect:
Why do all these assholes insist on standing democracy on its head?
Rule by the decision of the minority?
And we dumbasses can't even see it.

GoodGrief said...

Geez, this takes me back to the 60's and early 70's, which begs the question, why? Why, in 2005, are these issues raising their ugly heads again? War, abortion, minority rights? What is this all about?
Good post, Scott, and you too Dave and Cathie. Keep it up.
As an old preggie (first one 38, second at 40), my first born is of voting age, my second, next year. I've got both of them involved, and they are getting their friends involved. Perhaps, we have a chance, if we keep hammering it home. Glad to see Martin is starting to take the gloves off. Corruption is terrible, but it can be contained, punished and cleaned up to a degree - it will never go away, regardless of which party, which government. Fanaticism and/or Fascism takes a hell of a lot longer to repair.

babzog said...

I saw the debate and the looks on the faces as Martin stumbled and argued with Mansbridge (who kept the PM on his toes - good job Peter!) were not seeds of doubt, rather they were the tired looks of those who've heard these arguments before from this man.

Martin himself made up everything to do with the abortion question... Stephen has not mentioned it at all, except to deflect out of the blue and off the wall remarks by Martin. I saw the women in that stage wondering "Where is Martin getting this from?" There will be no proposal from the Conservatives on abortion.

Scott in Montreal said...

I hope you're right babzog. But a lot of people in his caucus will be very disappointed if they reach power only to find they don't have at least a chance to nibble away at issues that they see as black and white struggles between the forces of Good and Evil.

babzog said...

Remember, Harper will implement free votes on any of these "moral" issues if anyone is dumb enough to put one forward. (Whipped votes will only apply to budget or other similarly important issues so the majority of votes, I hope, will be free votes.) Given the left leaning bents of the Liberals, Bloc and NDP plus a good number of Conservatives, the motion will fail. Harper does not want to get into moral debates - he wants to govern. The throwaway mention of bringing up the gay marriage thing at the start of the campaign (why oh why does this issue have to come back again?) is only a nod to those who want it raised for a free vote (as the last vote was not truly a free vote). The question will be "does the House want to raise this issue again?", at which point I predict it will be voted down and hopefully, finally laid to rest.