Dion Silent on Bill C-484

Max Fawcett wonders why Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has his head up his ass when it comes to Bill C-484:

[Stephane Dion’s] incompetence in dealing with Bill C-484, Conservative MP Ken Epp’s transparent attempt to subvert Canada’s abortion laws, on the other hand, defies any rational explanation. Bill C-484, the proposed unborn victims of crime act, would make it a separate crime to kill a fetus during a criminal act against its mother. With respect to Canada’s existing abortion laws this bill is the most obvious of Trojan horses, an attempt to confer rights on the unborn fetus. Those rights, according to Gaétan Barrette, head of Quebec’s Federation of Specialist Doctors, “…will allow someone to go to the Supreme Court and say ‘Look, you’ve passed Bill 484. And because of that, you implicitly gave rights to this fetus. And if the fetus has rights, then abortion should be illegal because it is a murder.”

It is understandable that members of the public not versed in the legalities of abortion laws would be deceived by the subterfuge, and that those who would otherwise be pro-choice might support Mr. Epp’s bill. But it is not understandable that someone as politically experienced as Stephane Dion could fail to appreciate the importance of the bill. Yet during the second reading of the bill 27 members of his caucus voted in support of the bill and 11, including Dion himself, didn’t even bother to show up. Abortion rights advocates across the country haven’t been nearly as timid, describing it as a legally impotent tool that whose only effect, and indeed its desired one, would be to pave the way for the re-criminalization of abortion. They reject Mr. Epp’s assertion that the bill is simply an effort to protect women, arguing that Canada’s hate crimes legislation already has a gender clause that can be used when violence is committed against pregnant women, and that judges have always had the option of enhancing the charges in such circumstances. That Dion has been either unable or unwilling to bring a similar degree of intellectual clarity to such an important debate is puzzling.

One of Dion’s few remaining supporters might argue that the outcome of a vote on the second reading of a private member’s bill is insignificant, or that he’s allowing members to vote according to their conscience on a matter of moral significance. Yet those would be rationalizations at best, and unsatisfactory ones at that. Mr. Epp’s bill has passed second reading and moved on to the committee stage, putting it dangerously close to becoming important. Worse still, Jean-François Del Torchio, Dion’s media attaché, couldn’t confirm if Dion plans to instruct Liberals to vote against it during its third and final reading. If Dion wanted to let his backbenchers vote according to their conscience, shouldn’t he at least have insisted that they do so on a bill that presents the question in a straightforward and unambiguous manner? Shouldn’t Dion, the author of the Clarity Act, have insisted on a similar degree of intellectual honesty with respect to this equally important issue?

More at Dooney’s Cafe, Who Stole Stephane Dion’s Brain?

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