PHOTOS: The young Jason Kenney, speaking out to the San Francisco CNN station against the right of pro-choice activists even to speak in support of their views on the U.S. university campus he attended for one year. Below: St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud and anti-choice activist Alissa Golob, with Mr. Kenney, grabbed from her Twitter feed.

If Jason Kenney’s strongly held personal convictions against a woman’s right to choose don’t matter, why are anti-abortion groups jumping on his unite-the-right bandwagon so enthusiastically?

Whenever anyone dares to discuss the anti-choice views of the candidate to lead the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, Mr. Kenney’s supporters pile on to argue it’s outrageous for anyone to make such an argument.

RenaudMr. Kenney’s personal views are irrelevant, strident commenters on social media sites and in the comments section of this blog said angrily in response to my July 8 post on St. Alberta NDP MLA Marie Renaud’s courageous Twitter messages, in which she stated, “I had an abortion and I thank God I was able to” and then saying, “Just one question for Mr. Kenney, Pro-choice or not?”

For this, Ms. Renaud was heaped with vilification and abuse, which is why I called her courageous, because anyone who pays attention to the vicious, well-organized and highly personal way the right-wing rage machine in this province responds to any statements of this sort had to know what was going to happen next.

For his part, presumably because he recognizes this is an important issue, Mr. Kenney has bobbed and weaved, refusing to answer Ms. Renaud’s question, regardless of whom asks it.

Instead, he has pointed to his record in Stephen Harper’s federal government of not working for his beliefs on this issue publicly or head on: “In my 20 years in Parliament I haven’t given a speech about this, let alone proposed a motion or a bill.” Never mind that the former chair of the Parliamentary pro-life caucus has a “perfect voting record” according to anti-choice groups.

In response to the fact this had become an issue regardless, a few talking points quickly emerged among Mr. Kenney’s more temperately spoken supporters:

  • That Mr. Kenney’s views on this topic are irrelevant, because abortion is a matter for the federal government – obviously not true, since health care is a provincial responsibility.
  • That he never did much about the issue as a member of the Harper Government, and therefore wouldn’t as the leader of his own government – a highly dubious proposition if you ask me.
  • And that anyone who would say such a thing about Mr. Kenney is just afraid that he’s going to win and thereafter defeat the NDP – to which I say, maybe so, maybe not, but who says chickenhearted bloggers aren’t allowed to comment on legitimate policy matters?

Now, thanks to the good work of Press Progress, we can see that the so-called pro-life crowd is organizing on behalf of Mr. Kenney – as, of course, is their right in a democracy where ideas on how to run society inevitably compete.

Golob“What does this mean for pro-life Canadians?” asks the anti-abortion Facebook page run by a group called Right Now, referring its readers to a blog post by Alissa Golob, a former executive director of Campaign Life Coalition’s youth wing and a frequent commentator on right-wing media outlets.

In it, Ms. Golob set out the arguments better than I could for why it makes sense for people like her who oppose the right of women to reproductive freedom to support politicians like Mr. Kenney who share their views even if they don’t act on them right away.

“In our current situation, we need to be strategic,” she wrote. “…Above all, we need to be patient.”

“Passing a piece of provincial legislation that restricts abortion is arguably one of the most effective ways to decrease the abortion numbers in our country,” she added, quoting a U.S. study that claims “public funding restrictions decreases abortions by 37 per cent.”

She concluded by exhorting her supporters to back Mr. Kenney to “kick-start our path to victory,” arguing that with politicians like Mr. Kenney in power, “we’re well on our way” to passing legislation restricting the access and right of women to choice.

Whatever else she says, Ms. Golob is quite right about this point, which is why Mr. Kenney’s views on access to abortion and reproductive services matter to anyone who supports the right of women to reproductive freedom, no matter how unpleasant the right-wing outrage machine gets about it online.

It is also a fact in a democracy that well organized groups with extremist views like the anti-choicers, the gun-nuts and the union haters enjoy power disproportionate to their numbers because they can get their supporters out to vote.

So call it fear or call it practicality, anyone who cares about the rights of women needs to be concerned about what it would mean to elect a radical social conservative like Mr. Kenney to anything.

Mr. Kenney’s supporters understand this, or they wouldn’t react the way they do when the topic comes up.

Hats off to Marie Renaud and Press Progress for insisting that this important issue stays on the radar.

If you care about women’s rights and reproductive freedom, you’d damn well better care about who runs this province!

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  1. These so-called pro-lifers are a joke because once that baby is born, those ass holes could not give a rat’s ass about it. They don’t care if the baby is going to be well fed, well housed, well educated, etc. because that shit could increase their taxes. They are morally bankrupt.

  2. Given that Alberta Health Services is responsible for the following:

    • pre and post abortion counselling
    • pregnancy options and decision-making counselling
    • grief support counselling related to pregnancy loss
    • surgical abortion services up to 20 weeks confirmed by ultrasound
    • contraception counselling

    …there is every reason to believe that an anti-abortionist like Kennedy would control funding to disrupt any one or all of the services currently provided by AHS.

  3. So will the provincial NDP make the so-called abortion pill (RU 488 Mifepristone) available for free?

    This useful and as-safe-as-it-gets, drug had been stonewalled by the Harper Cons, including Mr. Kenney until the NDP opposition in Ottawa called them on it.

    And look how Kenney voted on a Bill to reopen the abortion debate through the backdoor (from CBC):

    “Eight cabinet ministers, including Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino, voted in favour of the motion by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth.”

    Rights, as opposed to privileges, don’t get any more personal than those involving reproduction and sexuality. Mr. Kenney and the Harper Cons were very clear on their willingness to defy the Courts and the Constitution to impose their personal religious and financial prejudices on all of us.

  4. “The secret of Switzerland’s low abortion rate”
    One of the biggest risk factors for unwanted pregnancy and resulting abortions is a low socioeconomic level.
    Would we expect the neo-conservative/neo-liberal conservatism of the day to understand that doing equal wealth distribution would trickle down to less abortions, lower teen pregnancy rates, less crime, less drug abuse, etc.?
    I think not. And they get votes with ‘the hint’ of ?making abortion illegal, or something. We know of religious, right wing, pro-life voters in southern Alberta who kept voting for the Harper regime because they fully believed that the regime would ?make abortion illegal. We knew that Harper would not commit political suicide by actually doing that.
    There is also the matter of whether making abortion illegal results in less abortions being done – it does not.
    The three areas, as stated in the ‘Swiss’ article re: less abortions is:”education, contraception and socioeconomic level,” with a good explanation.

  5. I think a smart political operative would encourage the natural split between the libertarians and social conservatives with regard to the abortion issue. Just remind the former that Ayn Rand was pro-choice and that the government they hate so much has no right to tell women what they should do with their bodies. I see a wedge issue waiting to be exploited.

    1. Sadly, if you go looking, you’ll find that libertarians are, for the most part, raging misogynists. Ayn Rand was some kind of weird exception, but most women don’t count as people for them. Rather, women are the property over which libertarians think they have the right of ownership and control.

    2. Libertarians are a diverse bunch. Of course Ayn Rand herself was pro-choice, but some of her acolytes in Canada seem to have squared the circle with objectivism and religiosity. I can only assume it’s convenience, but you never know with right wingers. After all, they did invent the Prosperity Gospel.

    3. For that to work you would have to find some true libertarians, good luck with that search. Personally I have found more libertarian minded people at NDP meetings. You could also bring up the idea of open borders while you are at it.

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