Thursday, 25 March 2010

How can so much nonsense happen in one month?

The proprietor of this space apologizes for his prolonged absence from The Blog. He has been lumbered with the Olympics (of blessed memory), trips to the far reaches of Ontario, numerous guests, reduction to one car as the normally reliable Camry remains in intensive care, wrestling with serious school district issues, and trying to maintain his new sylphlike figure after losing 25 pounds (I had to get that last item in somehow).

And look at what has happened during this five weeks of enforced silence! Canada, a country of which I feel privileged to be a citizen, seems to have plumbed new depths of nonsense. I'll go further. Nonsense is irritating but normally harmless. Some of these happenings to which I am alluding are downright harmful.

First the chattering baboons we sometimes call Members of Parliament, and even more ironically, Honourable. Here is an utterance from several female M.P.s (one of them a medical doctor if you can believe it) about a government plan to urge the G8 countries to combat maternal health issues:

While immunization, access to clean water, better nutrition and improved training for health-care workers are all important to the health and safety of women and girls, addressing the real issues underlying poor maternal and infant health requires that the full gamut of options be made available to promote educated family planning and gender equality. Anything less is a mere band-aid solution.

We have in our little city a marvelous fundraiser called Run for Water, begun by a former student of mine named Ken Baerg. Its purpose is to ensure access to clean water in Ethiopia. Their website includes this observation:

By competing in the Run For Water you are helping villages in Ethiopia acquire the clean drinking water they need. Roughly 80% of Ethiopians require improved drinking water facilities, and Run For Water is partnering with an experienced development agency to contribute to that need.

Lack of clean drinking water is an enormous problem in the less developed world. It is a major contributor to serious health problems and even death. As noted above, in Ethiopia alone, eight out of every ten citizens are affected by it. But to those honourable ideologues of ours in Ottawa, addressing the issue is a mere band-aid solution compared to that problem beyond every problem--the provision of abortions.

Are these women out of their minds? Probably not, but they are obsessed. Beyond this, they can't seem to think of women anywhere else in the world outside of a Canadian context.

Imagine approaching a pregnant African woman with three living children (the fourth, fifth and sixth having died in infancy), all with distended bellies, bad drinking water, poor nutrition, and no one trained to help them, and saying to them, "Look, we could deal with all of these illnesses and untimely deaths by addressing your water and nutrition needs, your various diseases, the absence of good medical care and so on. But heck, these are mere band-aids. What you really need to do is to abort that child (oops! fetal material) you are carrying. So here's a coupon to get you into the new abortion clinic we built in the nearest city. And by the way, we affirm you as a full and equal sister."

The fact that a) the woman probably wants the child, b) this coupon does nothing for her existing children's unhealthy state or her own, c) there is no one trained to look after her when she returns (probably on foot for many kilometers) to her village, and d) she won't even be able to safely slake her thirst after her many days' walk, is nothing compared to the inestimable privilege of a safe abortion.

These women give pro-choice a bad name.

Related to this is the strange leadership being given to this nonsense by the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Dr. Ignatieff.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will not abandon his fight to include reproductive rights in any Canadian-inspired G8 initiative to improve the health of mothers and their babies in the world’s poorest countries (Globe and Mail, March 24/10).

The reason that he has to fight is that his motion to include, in the government's plan for maternal health, the provisions for abortion discussed above was defeated in the Canadian House of Commons, despite the fact the government is in a minority position and the rest of the parties in the House supported his motion. Regrettably for Ignatieff, sixteen of his own Liberal M.P.s either skipped the vote or supported the government, thus ensuring that the motion would fail.

The once dominant Liberal party has suffered under three consecutive flawed leaders--first Paul Martin, then the hapless Stephane Dion, and now Ignatieff. Their last successful prime minister, Jean Chretien, remained in power through a combination of a splintered and largely ineffective opposition, and by doing little except allowing an improved world economy to solve his budget deficit problems. It has been a long, long time since the Liberals have had genuinely inspired leadership.

Given the mixed performance by the robotic Prime Minister Harper and his band of merry sycophants, Canada needs a strong alternative to ensure that the government's feet will always be kept near the fire. This is becoming less and less likely. The Conservatives have done little to address the issues that lead Canadian women to choose to abort. They are really no improvement over the Liberals in this regard. Yet they may have open season for years to come if the Liberals do not get their act together.

But Ignatieff does not appear to be the person to accomplish this. Ironic, isn't it, that his leadership flaws should surface over a motion regarding abortion?

Finally, I want to address the supreme nonsense associated with the (odious to me) high-profile right-wing spokesperson Ann Coulter. The suppression of her vacuous views should be of concern to those who, like myself, want to be able to say things that are important to me but that fall outside the boundaries of acceptability drawn by the chattering baboon class.

More on this soon.