Saturday, June 7, 2008

Could Dion have found that backbone he's been missing?

On Tuesday, June 3 the Federal Liberals and Bloc, teamed up to back an NDP bill, the second of its kind, to allow the estimated 200 American Iraq War resisters to stay in Canada. Neither of the two parties supported this bill the first time the NDP brought it forward. Maybe this time the Liberals voted in favour to send a message to fellow Liberal Bob Rae who has worked against party leader Stephan Dion to end Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan earlier than the current 2011 time line.

Maybe the Liberals supported it because the Bill is only a symbolic non-binding one; the Conservatives need not heed this directive. Nor will the house fall over it. Staying true to their pro-war roots, the Conservatives voted against this bill.

On Thursday, the Canadian Press reported that Stephane Dion is vowing to vote against Bill C484, a private members' bill served by Ken Epp and supported by Harper's conservatives.

Bill C484, the "Unborn Victims of Crime" bill is not only extremely contentious, but it is being challenged as wrongheaded and misinformed. Many conservatives, like Rona Ambrose, claim that it is meant to fight violence against women. Interesting, then, that there is such an opposition to it from within the women’s rights movement.

At its most basic level, the Bill C484 attempts to give status to a fetus, through the back door, by enhancing the criminal sentence for those who are convicted of murdering a pregnant woman (and the fetus). The bill is being sold a tool to potentially deter abusers of pregnant women, but critics say this has nothing to address root issues that cause violence against women, pregnant or not. Moreover, this bill will almost certainly establish a slippery slope toward the re-criminalization of Abortion.

With all these concerns, it's good to see that Dion has committed his party to oppose Epp’s bill. However, the bill passed its second reading with 26 Liberal MPs voting in favour of it. With the Bloc and NDP already almost entirely on side, Liberal whip Karen Redman will need to get cracking to bring the remaining 26 rogue MPs in line to stop this bill from passing.

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