A discussion we cannot discuss
by Monte Solberg
Oh my, Conservative MP Stephen Woodward has excited such passion with Private Member’s Motion 312. So much so that NDP MP Irene Mathyssen said in a speech that raising the issue of when human life begins is “literally a slap in the face to women.”
Hmm, sounds painful. Setting aside for a moment that Ms. Mathyssen has confused “literally” with “figuratively,” what’s disheartening about her speech is that so much of it resents that the matter was ever raised. She said that the motion is “both frightening and insulting.”
It’s one thing to be “insulted” by a bad argument. It’s quite another thing, and a much worse thing, to be “insulted” that a matter is even raised.
To paraphrase GK Chesterton, it is the same kind of thinking that stops all thinking. It is the kind of thinking, if we can call it that, which says we should censor the issues we discuss.
We cannot question when life begins because the issue has already been decided for us and it is insulting to even raise the matter. We cannot question the divinity of Mohammed because the issue has been decided for us and it is insulting to even raise the matter.
In fact it’s so insulting that if you go there I will cut your head off.
Now I doubt that Irene Mathyssen will ever cut your head off, but she will bite your head off.
Once she made it clear that it is outrageous that we should even discuss such matters, Ms. Mathyssen actually argued against the motion citing the slippery slope to restrictions on abortion.
They weren’t arguments I agreed with but that’s not the point. My point is that the debate ended before it began. She spoiled it when she got all insulted that “men” had dared raise the issue.
NDP MPs Niki Ashton and Francoise Boivin reportedly said that Woodworth should not have even been permitted to make the motion.
This would be depressing enough if the non-debate was happening at the local coffee shop. It’s even worse when the non-debate occurs in the House of Commons where everything should be on the table except refusing to put things on the table.
None of this means that Stephen Woodward’s Private Member’s Motion was politically wise. It wasn’t. His constituents are not flocking to his cause, though he’ll have some support. The Conservative government has made it clear that they will not reopen the debate on abortion, which is where the discussion on this motion leads.
In other words, at this point he is unlikely to swing the country round to his way of thinking with his motion. He will also not be popular with his constituents or most of his caucus for raising this motion. Still, he had the courage to speak up on an uncomfortable issue where others would have been dissuaded by the disapproving glares, clucking tongues and clearing throats.
In the end Stephen Woodward struck a blow for free and open inquiry, which shouldn’t seem remarkable given that we live in Canada, and given that his forum was the House of Commons. And yet somehow it was.
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