Andrew Coyne has written a piece in Macleans that purports to show that Canadians are somehow fearful of reopening debate on the question of abortion. While Coyne correctly points out that when the previous law was struck down every Supreme Court Justice expected parliament to write a new one, I’m not sure why he thinks that “Canadians” (because we’re all such a homogenuous group) are so afraid of this topic.
A while back the CBC ran its Great Canadian Wishlist on Facebook and the top two wishes involved abortion law in this country. Now this is partially an example of freeping I’m sure, but nonetheless it shows that there are significant segments of the population ready to refight this topic. You can also find a great many blogs ready to advance either side of this issue rather vigorously. Yet I’m also fairly certain that these groups are outnumbered by a somewhat more apathetic majority – people who either don’t care or who accept the law because they can’t be bothered with the shouting and acrimony that this topic usually engenders. Of course this is because there are still plenty of people champing at the bit to debate abortion.
What irritates me about Coyne writing this way is that he clearly must have some opinion of his own on the matter and yet he appears to be afraid to come right out and state it in the article! Who’s afraid now, Andrew Coyne? He says he wants this debate because we’re a democracy and this isn’t how democracies “behave.” Or something. Never mind that, as heirs to the British Parliamentary system, we have all manner of traditions and systems that are rather undemocratic. We could start at the top: Why is it that a wealthy English grandmother named Elizabeth Windsor called our Queen? Because her father was King of course!
So I don’t think this is strictly about procedures in a democratic country, I think rather that Andrew Coyne wants to say rather more about abortion, he’s just afraid. So he masks it by calling the rest of us afraid. A Google search for Andrew Coyne+abortion reveals that he has been consistently upset that the law that was struck down in 1988 was never replaced but he says little about what he would replace it with – he just wants to have a debate about it. Tell us Andrew Coyne, what exactly your position is on this matter – you want a debate, I call, show us your damn cards.