"Insensitive"


I’m sitting here, basking in the glow of my Rider tree. How beautiful it looks, its white lights reflecting off the green jerseys and causing the glitter to sparkle. But after today’s trade, I need to delete one jersey and add another. Note to self: football, and sport in general, is a business.

But I need to address something else. Something I’ve been remiss in neglecting to mention. Something I should have responded to much sooner.

By now you’ve probably read that Dr. Henry Morgentaler has been named to the Order of Canada as a Member. Morgentaler is being recognized “For his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organization.” (For the full press release, go here.)

Dr. Morgentaler is known as the ‘abortion doctor.’ Over the course of nearly two decades, Morgentaler was arrested, and served jail time, on numerous occasions for providing women with access to safe abortions. At the time, a woman could only gain consent for an abortion through the health care system, and only after she successfully lobbied a hospital committee consisting of three doctors.

In 1988 (only 20 years ago, gals) the Supreme Court of Canada ruled “that the abortion law under which Dr. Morgentaler had been convicted contravened Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Forcing women to endure potentially life-threatening delays violated their charter guarantee of life, liberty and security of the person.” Furthermore, the Court ruled that the practice of forcing women to petition a three-doctor committee “was arbitrary, demeaning and potentially injurious to women.” (Quotes from The Globe)

Dr. Morgentaler helped women regain control of their bodies. And for this he should be commended. Can you imagine being a woman, wanting an abortion and having to testify before three doctors as to why you want to have an abortion? It’s the reverse of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ A woman would have to ‘prove’ that her reasoning was sound, that she ‘qualified.’ And whose qualifications would those be? Absolutely ludicrous.

The reaction has been, of course, mixed. What pisses me off about The Globe’s coverage of these reactions, though, is the fact that NOT ONE PRO-CHOICE WOMAN was interviewed or even quoted. The only woman who made the article “Cheers, jeers greet Morgentaler’s honour” was the president of Life Canada, a staunch anti-abortion organization. The only cheers come from a friend of Morgentaler’s and a supporter out of left field: Buzz Hargrove, the president of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union. Come on! Give me a freaking break! BUZZ HARGROVE?!?!? I know he was appointed to the Order of Canada alongside Morgentaler, but was Buzz Hargrove THE ONLY freaking person in this whole damn country who could give you a quote supporting Morgentaler? WHERE THE HELL ARE THE WOMEN????

The negative views come, predictably, from men (surprise, surprise) of religious and political backgrounds. And the Prime Minister’s Office even (foolishly) waded into the debate, stating “The Conservative government is not involved in either deliberations or decisions with respect to which individuals are appointed to the Order of Canada.” Of course the Conservatives are trying to appease their base by placing themselves as far as possible from Morgentaler’s appointment. But I suspect some Prime Ministerial finagling occurred, too, since it is has become known that the two government members of the Advisory Council, which makes the appointments, are Conservative and were opposed. Sorry, Steve (or should I say, “Yo, Harper!” as GW Bush did). Even your control-freakishness couldn’t control this one.

Thank goodness.

What also pisses me off about the negative reaction is the fact that some believe the Order of Canada will lose its value because of its inclusion of Morgentaler. Okay, then. Let’s look at the list of recipients of the Order of Canada. Oh – whose name is that? Why, it’s Conrad Black. Lord Conrad Black. The Conrad Black who RENOUNCED HIS CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP and was then CONVICTED of fraud in the United States. We have a member of the Order of Canada who is A) in jail, and B) not even a citizen! In comparison, Morgentaler IS a citizen of Canada, and whose convictions have been overturned by no less authority than the Supreme Court of Canada. If you think Morgentaler ‘debases’ the Order of Canada, then where on your ‘spectrum of debasement’ does Conrad Black fit? Yeah – I didn’t think you had an answer for that.

I am proud that I live in a country where people like Dr. Morgentaler can be celebrated for their achievements. There are very few countries in the world whose societies’ are open enough to both admire and challenge the achievements of its most controversial figures. It’s one of the reasons why I love my country.

Happy Belated Canada Day.

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