Note: The following entry, by Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever, appeared on his blog on July 17, 2011.
In the last few days, the blogosphere and twitter have uncovered statements by Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Tim Hudak concerning abortion and the role of the government with respect to abortion. The uncharacteristically unequivocal admissions about his convictions on the abortion issue now make one thing shockingly clear: the fact that Hudak is leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives makes abortion an Ontario election issue. Ontario voters would be well advised to read on.
Hudak’s statements have been found on the web sites of two religious organizations: the Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), and the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA). On its web site, the CLC describes what it believes to be the role of government as follows:
The state’s main reason for existence, is to protect and promote the common good and the general welfare of its citizenry. The state is charged with protecting its citizens from harm, whether from foreign enemies, or from internal disorders that reduce the peace and security of its people. The state will impose civil laws and public policy which supports those ends, such as laws against murder which protect the innocent from being unjustly killed. A just government will treat all citizens equally, regardless of gender, age or size.
In the same discussion about the role of government, the CLC applies the above view to the issue of abortion:
Since science has proven that the unborn is fully human, therefore it is a person with rights, and the state has a moral obligation to protect them as citizens who are already in the world. Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being. No abstract argument (e.g. privacy), nor emotional appeal can change this reality. Even in the case of rape, the child is innocent, having himself committed no crime. In fact, the child is a second victim along with the mother, having been conceived out of violence rather than love.
The state must step in to protect innocent human life, regardless of the varied emotional appeals used by abortion-choicers. The pro-abortion stance is an anti-equality stance.
A month prior to the vote in the Ontario provincial election of 1995, the CLC requested that Tim Hudak state his position on abortion. Hudak was then seeking to become the MPP for the old riding of Niagara South. In a letter to the CLC dated May 23, 1995, Hudak replied: “I believe that it is the government’s role to promote the choice of life in childbearing decisions, to encourage women to carry the babies to term and, if the child is unwanted, to give them up for adoption.”
as it appeared as recently as July 4, 2011
That quotation appeared on the CLC website as recently as July 4, 2011. A cached version of it appears here. It is as though the twittering of the link to that page and quotation has led to a decision to hide the past: the page now says “The MP was not found”. The truth, apparently, can be rather inconvenient.
as it appears today.
The release of Tim Hudak’s position on abortion has clearly led to a panic in the Progressive Conservative camp. Rightly worried that the electorate might learn who Tim Hudak is, they have begun filling the comments sections of blogs with the usual sorts of excuses. For example, on Liberal war roomer Warren Kinsella’s blog entry about the CLC entry, a commenter writes:
Weren’t most Liberals against Gay Marriage way back then, too?
Try campaigning 2011. Just what is the Ontario Liberal party offering in the here and now?
The commenter’s implication is that because Hudak wrote his letter to the CLC in 1995, Hudak no longer has the same views, so don’t worry. There’s a problem with that theory, however: just 26 months ago, Hudak confirmed those views during his successful bid to assume the position of leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party.
ARPA describes itself as a group “…grounded by our faith in the truth and authority of the Bible, also as it is summarized in the Three Forms of Unity, and believe that the Lordship of Jesus Christ must apply to every sphere of life, including politics.” With respect to the issue of abortion, it is decidedly anti-choice, and seeks the election of politicians who will pass laws against abortion. During the 2009 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, ARPA asked the four leadership contestants (Tim Hudak, Christine Elliott, Randy Hillier and Frank Klees) for their respective positions on the issue of abortion. ARPA apparently was unable to get any of the candidates to provide a response…except for one: Tim Hudak. Hudak was apparently eager to answer, with an e-mail to ARPA:
In an email to an ARPA Contact, Hudak made it clear that he is pro-life and has signed petitions calling for abortion defunding and conscience legislation.
I am unaware of any statement by Hudak that is contrary to those he made to the CLC and to ARPA. I must take the man at his word: he is anti-choice, and believes that it is the role of government (the role of government!) to “encourage” women not to have abortions. Anyone saying or implying that Hudak’s views on abortion and the role of government have changed owes it to the voter to demonstrate that Hudak’s views have changed.
Another tactic being used by the panicky PCs is to claim that the Liberals are releasing the statements, and that they are doing it because the Liberals are low in the polls. That is clearly a red herring. There is nothing uniquely “Liberal” about pointing out a man’s convictions. A man’s convictions are simply a man’s convictions. And, when that man seeks to have what – in our Parliamentary system – is nigh equivalent to the power of a dictator (a Premier with a majority can be stopped only by the judiciary and, even then, only to a limited extent), it is only fitting that the voters and the general public know what he believes should be the “role of government”.
Saying “I believe the government’s role is” is not the same as saying “I promise to”. A belief is not a campaign promise. A belief transcends campaign promises and elections. It colours all promises and elections. Promising to take the HST off of electricity, but to otherwise leave the HST in place, tells you something about the PCs at this point in time (mostly, that they are all bark and no bite when it comes to promises to cut taxes and spending, and that they are entirely unprincipled). In contrast, saying “I believe” tells you something about Tim Hudak, the man who wants to be the CEO of Ontario.
Moreover, this is not just any belief. It is a belief he has about “the role of government”. Hudak’s not merely talking about his personal moral position. He’s talking about how the power of government should be used and directed. That is clearly a material consideration for any voter.
There is a third argument being put out there by the fearful PCs: that Hudak was only talking about encouraging, not forcing. When we are talking about “the role of government”, the encourage/force distinction is a false one. Government does nothing without the money it takes from us in taxes, fees etc.. It does not merely “encourage” us to fund a campaign against abortion. It holds us, ultimately, at gunpoint (try not paying your taxes, and refusing arrest), requiring us to fund whatever it desires to promote or discourage. It gives us no option but to pay for the bureaucrats, police, and marketing firms it decides to use for the purpose of “encouraging” someone to do or refrain from doing something.
Moreover, there are a host of “encouragements” Tim Hudak could engage in his quietly pending jihad against choice. For example, Hudak could make ones medical license dependent upon not providing abortions. He could impose massive fees for various made-mandatory services (e.g., environmental fees for disposal of the foetus); he could make the having of an abortion a basis for denying property distribution upon the breakdown of a marriage; he could require all sorts of procedures to be followed, and permissions to be obtained, before having an abortion. For example, consider the regulations, procedures, fees, and approvals that are usually imposed on such things as chopping down a flipping tree. The “he’s only talking about encouraging” argument is dead in the water.
Finally, some PC clean-up crewmen are actually asserting that the abortion debate is a “decades old culture war“, and are implying that the culture war is being brought-on by the provincial Liberals to make up for their unpopularity. Again, that’s a red herring. Yes, the Liberals are currently very unpopular, and yes Liberals are among those who are revealing Hudak’s convictions to the public. But to suggest that the Liberals are somehow starting a culture war is ridiculous. Look around you. We’ve gone from the summer of 2003 to an era of bizarre governmental pot fetishes, the glorification of sacrifice, the building of prisons, prayer in our public schools. We’ve gone in reverse: from 2003′s growth into adulthood and personal responsibility, to a father-knows-best paternalism, spawned in no small measure from a primarily conservative desire to merge religious commandments with the laws of man. If we’re in a culture war – and I believe we are – it is a war being brought on by the conservatives, seeking to make government their daddy or their god, delivering them, as increasingly child-like people, from “evil” such as the temptation having sex with someone of the same sex, the temptation of smoking pot, the temptation of not “dying for ones country” etc. It’s a war brought on by children, against adulthood. It is only fitting, therefore, that the adults do not spare the rod, in this case.
The sheer volume of comments posted by Progressive Conservatives in defence of Tim Hudak make another thing clear: they don’t want the media touching this issue. That, alone, should tell the media just how important it is for them to ensure that Hudak states his position clearly, and currently. Specifically, it is now incumbent on the media to ask Mr. Hudak to state whether or not he has changed his views on abortion and the role of government, since he made them during his campaigns for office and leadership.
PAUL McKEEVER’s END NOTE: Full disclosure: I believe that it is *not* the role of government to promote the choice of life (or the choice of abortion) in childbearing decisions. I believe it is *not* the government’s role to encourage or discourage women to carry their babies to term. I believe it is *not* the government’s role to encourage or discourage women to give up unwanted children for adoption. The government’s only role in the matter of abortion is to defend the woman’s life, liberty, and property as she makes and carries out her own choice in the matter. And, for those who might wrongly conclude that I am somehow defending the Liberal government: no, I think it’s time for the Liberals to go, and I lead the only political party fit to replace them: Freedom Party of Ontario.