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"Focus on the Born": Image from a demonstration against Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act
When it became clear that an imminent election was in the stars, Harper distanced himself from the widely opposed Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act.
Now infamous, Bill C-484 was a private member bill introduced by Ken Epp (MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park, Alberta). It assigned legal personhood to unborn fetuses (in contravention of the Criminal Code). It was denounced by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), and other feminist organizations, as "an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights." Similar laws are used in the United States to criminalize pregnant women who use drugs or alcohol for endangering the fetus, or to prosecute those who help them seek abortions.
While Epp refused to drop the Bill, which had passed its second reading, Harper vowed not to reopen the "debate" on abortion. (A promise, incidentally, that he has made before, during the 2004 election, and again in January 2005.)
But does that mean that reproductive rights are no longer an election issue?
Quite the opposite, according to the ARCC. Harper has said that he would not block private member bills about abortion (like C-484) in future.
In fact, on this issue, he has said he would lift tight party discipline and allow a free vote. Considering that the vast majority (74%) of current Conservative MPs are anti-choice, a majority Conservative Government could easily pass an anti-abortion bill into law.
Consider the following facts, largely culled from yesterday's press release issued by the ARCC:
The Québec Native Women's Association has called upon the Canadian government to acknowledge that residential schools were an act of genocide.
Statement by Quebec Native Women's Association/Femmes Autochtones du Québec
Re : Government of Canada's Residential School Apology
June 11, 2008, Kahnawake
Quebec Native Women recognizes the Prime Minister's official apology concerning the genocidal experience of Aboriginal people in the history of the Residential School system. While the apology to Aboriginal peoples is long overdue it is contradicted by the oppressive policies of the Indian
The heinous crimes committed against Aboriginal children who were victims and survivors of the Residential School experience must be dealt with beyond mere apologies and monetary compensation.
Photograph: Women's studies student Lily Tandel presenting the statement (below) to the Commission's Citizens' Forum on November 20, at the Bibliothèque Interculturelle in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal. Also pictured, Nada Fadol, a member of the statement-writing committee. Photo credit: Tanya Déry-Obin.
"Reasonable Accommodation": A Feminist Response /
Les « accommodements raisonnables » : Une réponse féministe
Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Montréal
[version française à suivre]
As anti-racist, anti-colonial feminists in Québec, we have serious misgivings about the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles. The Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec (CSF) has proposed that the Québec Charter be changed so as to accord the right of gender equality relative priority over the right to religious expression and to ban the wearing of "ostentatious" religious symbols in public institutions by public employees. Our concern is that the Commission and the CSF's subsequent intervention pave the way for legislation that will restrict rather than enhance the rights of women. We invite you to join us in questioning the exclusionary structure of the Commission, the assumptions it supports, and the negative impact it is likely to have on women's lives.
So, why call into question the legitimacy and the effects of the Commission?
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.