Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dear Pro-Choice Canadians,

Like most of you I'm still reeling from the results of the election last night. It was, in a word, bittersweet. I think we are in for a rough ride with a Conservative majority: do not take it lightly when I say buckle up. I think a lot of our sisters and allies - people who work in social services, as teachers and counsellors, people who make a living helping others - are going to be out of a job. If things get really bad, I could be too: abortion provision is a dangerous business to be in when the socons take over a country.

Along with the changing landscape of work for those of us with bleeding hearts, there is a much bigger threat on the horizon, one that I hope is an exaggeration but may just come true: a truly dark time for women, the poor, people of colour, non-hetero, non-gender-conforming folks, and all other marginalized groups. With a Conservative minority, our needs were ignored; now that there's a majority, our rights are directly threatened. Look out for more anti-abortion, "fetal rights" legislation, access being rolled back, civil rights being denied and stepped on, and social support programs going by the wayside. This is a government that will claim to be about family values but will not give a damn about actual families.

The silver lining is of course the NDP opposition. It has been a long time coming, but finally this country has embraced the left-right divide, for better or for worse, and cast off our former love affair with the centre. I am very excited to be rid of the milquetoast pandering of the Liberals, at least for a little while. And happy to see that Elizabeth May won her seat - that is a big deal my friends, mark my words. Now we need to see the NDP be an effective opposition, to continue convincing Canada that they are a viable, electable option and that they will hold the Conservatives' feet to the fire every damn day. And if it goes well enough - dare I dream it? - electoral reform in my lifetime. Hey, you gotta give me one hopeful thought.

What does this have to do with abortion? A hell of a lot. Formerly "I will not re-introduce the abortion debate" Steve has a mandate now. We need to brace ourselves, friends. And if it's not abortion, it's going to be other rights, chip chip chipping away.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, electoral politics is not as relevant as we would like to believe. Marginalized people have been oppressed by every government this country has had, and will probably continue to be so - just ask the indigenous people of this land. But we should fight from within the system when we can, just as we still attempt to tear it down from the outside. Diversity of tactics - it's going to mean a lot in the next four years. When we can't get what we need from the government, we have to take to the streets.

I hope to see you all out there.

In solidarity,


JeninCanada said...

Well said and damn right.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't particularly surprised that the Cons finally got their highly coveted majority - but at the same time, I still feel disappointed. There is a long fight ahead of us.

Jane said...

Late comment Pedgehog, but yes, I agree with you. We can already see evidence in the news that the base will not be quiet about abortion. They feel they are owed this after their faithfulness to Harper. So it will be a long ride. And all the other stuff, crime legislation in the upcoming omnibus bill, the end of the long gun registry, tax cuts, the stuff we know is coming to us in the first 100 days, it is all part of recreating Canada, which is, after all, what Harper promised to do.