Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Seven simple questions that Haskett won't answer -- so I will

The other day, a fellow ProgBlogger -- Darren McEwen -- pulled up some questions that an evangelical group in London is asking the candidates running in the vacant seat in London North Centre. He noted that Dianne Haskett, who has strong ties to the religious right, has not as yet answered those questions. So, even though I don't live in London, I'm going to take a stab at answering those questions as honestly as I can.

  • Revisting gay marriage: I think the issue has been settled and we should just move on. There's no point in rehashing a debate that tears people apart. One only has to remember how divided Parliament was when they revisited the death penalty then shot it down. Even though it was a party line vote (in that a majority in each party voted the "official" line) reinstatement was defeated after all three party leaders at the time -- Mulroney, Turner and Broadbent -- expressed their moral opposition to capital punishment in the strongest possible terms, and all vowed never to sign a death warrant. That persuaded about fifty Conservatives to change their minds and put the death penalty here in the history books once and for all. Thank God. However, it is inevitable that Parliament will vote again on the gay marriage issue -- Harper has vowed to do it in the next few weeks. If I were a member, then yes, I'd vote in favour of marriage being that of a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others; provided that existing gay and lesbian marriages were recognized and that an alternate form of partnership, be it common law marriage or civil union, was also recognized in law.
  • The ban on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide: I have a personal interest in this, given my mother died from cancer. Active euthanasia should always be illegal -- the decision to terminate life should never be made by a third party. There are other options, such as palliative care to reduce suffering. I don't really like the term "doctor-assisted suicide" as a physician is duty bound to first do no harm. However, if a patient has expressed in a continuing care power of attorney or directive (or, as it's called in Québec, a "mandate in anticipation of being incapacitated") his or her desire that no life saving measures be taken to resusitate, that should be respected. As well, if a patient expresses his or her clear will to end life, then the means should be provided to let the patient end his or her life on their own, as long as the person is proven not to be insane and can demonstrate beyond any doubt at all he or she knows what will happen as a consequence.
  • Abortion: I personally oppose abortion, but knowing a few women who have had the procedure I also know it's a decision that is never taken lightly. I also have a major problem with the fact Canada has no abortion law at all. None. The Supreme Court of Canada, when it struck down the former law nearly twenty years ago, said the state had protectable interests either at the start of the second trimester or at viability -- usually 24 weeks. So that's where I'd draw the line. Beyond that, however, Canada needs to develop tax and social policies that nurture families and ensure abortion is the absolute last resort. This includes making real enhancements to the Canada Child Tax Benefit (not the Harperbucks), more money for nutritional programs for pregnant and nursing mothers and children under five, and a day care program ensuring access for all children who want it with fees set based on the parents' ability to pay. That, and eliminating the marriage penalty, or permiting income splitting or whatever one wants to call it -- so that a woman gets equal tax treatment whether she stays at home or works in the "real world." People seem to forget that in the States, abortions actually went down during the Clinton administration and have gone back up during that of Bush Lite -- because Slick Willy increased funding for WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and Dubya gutted it. Another thing that would help is streamlining the adoption process for foster kids in Canada. The backlog needs to be cleared up and foreign adoptions suspended while our kids are served first.
  • Waiting periods for abortion: Like I said above, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is never taken lightly. Educate a woman about the options and alternatives, but no waiting period, period.
  • Health care workers who don't perform certain procedures based on conscience: That's their right, and I'd defend -- it with one exception: Contraception. If a woman wants the morning after pill, she should be able to get it, no questions asked.
  • Strengthening laws against child pornography: I don't know why the religious right thinks they have the monopoly on this one. Even progressives should be outraged that it even exists. I can't see how it could possibly have artistic merit. Definitely, yes: Toughen the laws, but also get ISPs to monitor the stuff more, and if they can filter it out without us having to. We also have to take a tough stand against countries that host these perverts from kilometres away and threaten trade sanctions if they don't get tough. Protecting our kids should be job number one of any civilized society.
  • Eliminating government funding of interest groups: Yes.

That wasn't so hard -- was it, Dianne?

UPDATE (Thursday 8:39AM, 1339 GMT): The original source of course was Darren McEwen at Apply Liberally, and I've updated the post accordingly.


22/11/2006 10:46:59 AM
really enjoy your articles... yet we are two different types of bloggers... lol

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