I've had a day to study the different responses to blog posts about the Wildrose on Abortion and the Alberta Party on Abortion. My conclusion? Abortion becomes an issue when a party says something stupid about it. Case in point. I blogged about the Alberta Party's stance on abortion and there was no response. A few hits on the posting, but not many. Why? Cynics might say it's because the Alberta Party has no chance of forming government. No one cares. Probably true. But what is also true is they didn't say anything shocking. Now, if all the parties said reasonable things, abortion never would have been mentioned in the mainstream media at all. (That's the media that Wildrose has taken to calling "lamestream" media as they channel Sarah Palin.)
So why did abortion become an issue? Is it those damn liberals? No, it was Wildrose who made it an issue. They said they would put social "issues like abortion" to citizen initiated referendum. Even if that was a "mistake" because now they realize and have to admit it would violate the Charter, it was a clear message to their base that they wanted to. It's just that darn Charter of Rights and Freedoms that keeps them from doing what they want.
It wasn't a one time mistake. They said it to me, they said it at least to one other citizen. (See my earlier post on the response to Wildrose.) That person didn't blog about it. They initially just shook their head, had their question answered, and moved on. I got the answer and spread the word. Why? Because I can. Because I consider it a public service. Because I care about the issue, not because I am an Eastern liberal cabal member. It wasn't a carefully laid plan to expose Wildrose. Yeah, that's it, I wrote a play about abortion and blogged about the issue for years, just waiting to expose a party that didn't exist yet when I started thinking about this issue. Yeah, that must be it. What a plan! I'm freaking brilliant.
I have read and heard repeated reports over the past few days that Danielle Smith says attacks on Wildrose on issues of conscience rights and their policy to govern by referendum are typical liberal attacks, part of a pattern of Liberals to demonize and vilify the right. Poor Wildrose. They have to concern themselves with dissent. Edmonton blogger Kathleen Smith posted about her decision to stop supporting Wildrose as a result of their stance on conscience rights and was immediately lambasted by the party who accused her of being a Conservative Mole (in Wildrose speak, a flaming capital L Liberal.) Apparently the phrase "terrorism campaign" was used. According the an Edmonton Journal article on the events, Kathleen Smith laughs off the suggestion that she's a Tory mole: "If I am, I'm brilliant." Yeah, I feel what you're saying Kathleen.
Of course the person getting the worst of this is Alison Redford. A progressive conservative in the style of Peter Lougheed, she is painted as being part of this imaginary liberal cabal that the Wildrose likes to vilify and that we hear so much about in Republican politics to the south. Apparently we control the media. If so, we've given Danielle Smith quite a pass. Her own history with the Calgary Herald and the fact that her husband is an executive with Sun Media is seldom made an issue. All I'm saying is in Alberta, the very notion that the media is liberal is laughable. Smith's political history has been largely whitewashed, with the notable exception of another blogger, Daveberta, who like Kathleen Smith has a much wider following than little old me. These days, with reduced media budgets for real investigation, digging up information gets left to folks like Daveberta. He does his homework. See these two articles on the Wildrose, the first on who the candidates are and who might form cabinet and the second on Ms. Smith's history on the Calgary Public School Board. Occasionally, someone like me stumbles upon a story without even realizing it's a story.
And again, it never would have been a story if Wildrose hadn't said something so surprising. Their own policy got seen for the craziness that it is through the application of a specific case, in this case, abortion. Governing by referendum is a hopelessly flawed way to govern. Anyone who needs proof, look no farther than California ballot initiatives. What kinds of things could be brought to referendum? Here's a start, without details beyond the general topic, in no particular order, with no logic or weight given to the possible success of the topic or whether it passes a charter challenge, because that's the way these initiatives would come up - totally randomly. Raising the age of consent. Lowering the age of consent. Parental consent for birth control for minors. Parental consent for abortion for minors, even if the preganancy was caused by incest. Require a panel of doctors to approve an abortion. Fund IVF. Don't fund IVF. Defund abortion. End Gay Marriage (hey it happened in California). Lower taxes. Lower corporate taxes. Implement flat taxes. Implement a sales tax. Eliminate school boards. Increase the power of school boards. Change the royalty regime (an oil business thing, for those who don't live here). Legislate a portion of all oil revenue into the Heritage Fund. End the Heritage Fund and distribute its contents to Albertans because our money is better off in our pockets with our Dani bucks. Alter property rights in favour of land owners. Alter property rights in favour of business. Reduce environmental protection. Increase environmental protection. Take flouride out of drinking water. Put flouride into drinking water. Ban the sale of genetically modified food. Ban the import of asparagus out of season. Impose a special fee on everyone who lives in Okotoks and Airdrie and commutes to Calgary to work for their daily use of Calgary's urban roads and services. Alternately, take a portion of property taxes raised in Airdrie and Okotoks and give it to Calgary for wear and tear. Impose Public Private Partnerships on all new school and hospital projects. Give urban centres more seats. Give rural Alberta more seats. Go nuclear free. Add nuclear power. Do I need to go on? Do you see what I'm getting at?
Government by referendum is a bad idea. What Wildrose said about abortion was a problem, but the policy (a real policy) of citizen initiated referendum that was behind that statement is the real problem. When we elect a government, we elect them to decide things. Wildrose wants power, but not the responsbility of government. They want to turn human rights over to the courts and people's individual consciences. They want to give any thorny issues back to the public.
Danielle Smith mocks Alison Redford for suggesting Alberta is changing and for stating she likes those changes. Alberta is fine, just the way it is, says Smith. Apparently, she doesn't believe that for a second. There are changes in store for us. Wildrose has a vision for Alberta, and the fact that I don't like it doesn't make me part of a terrorist campaign.
[Addendum April 15: Same theory proved again. Less than 50 hits on the post about the Progressive Conservative position on Abortion. Why? Because no one said anything ridiculous.]
The Abortion Monologues is now available as an e-book through Smashwords. Download a copy onto your e-reader or as a PDF. Better yet, put on a show!