Note: Alexander Moens is a professor of Political Science at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute in the Centre for Canadian-American Relations.
June 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - I spoke in support of the anti-abortion caravan that was launched from the steps of Vancouver’s Art Gallery on May 29. The caravan will end in Ottawa on Canada day. It is a grass-roots action by young people who aim to put abortion laws back on the legislative agenda. It is an entirely peaceful and orderly campaign but it includes a no-holds barred visual aspect in which large posters depict what a badly mangled fetus looks like when killed and extracted from its mother’s womb.
One of the things I said was: “If you are speaking for the unborn, you are a Canadian; you are not an extremist.” Some 40 students and activists were jumping up and down just behind the equally small crowd of pro-lifers. They were yelling at the top of their lungs “Shame, shame, shame.” I am not suggesting for a moment that abortion and pro-life issues are easy, but “shame”? Do those who oppose Canada’s absence of laws limiting abortion really have to be ashamed? Is Canada really beyond this debate?
I think the opposite is true. This new movement is forcing the rest of us to see what abortion looks like, just as pictures of the dead in Nazi camps forced people to see what happened under their noses. I believe these young Canadians are heroes (they are taking a lot of verbal abuse) and will someday change the common view on abortion. I have no idea how that will change the law, but the first step is simply to get us all to admit that the fetus in the womb is a form of life which cannot be worthless and disposable. It simply does not make sense.
I believe that sooner or later Canadians will see the point because we are already committed to the value and quality of all life. A momentary glance at our public arena shows abundant evidence.
If parents abuse their children, we insist that government come to the aid of the young and vulnerable. We do not want our homeless to perish on the streets. We do not want our prisoners subject to unusual and cruel punishment. Canadians were disgusted with the disposal of sled dogs last year in Whistler. We do not want ducks to die in the tailing ponds of the oil sands. Most Canadians do not want to use the life of things in our environment such as plants and water in a wasteful manner.
We value life and its quality. It is no surprise that some Canadian cities rank among the highest in world scores on quality of life. We even value quality of life in our immigration and refugee policies. Our newcomers integrate quite well on the whole because most Canadians want them to belong. We prefer being too friendly to being not friendly enough. It is part of us. Our big cities and universities bristle with diversity and it is enjoyable and enriching.
What is Canadian foreign policy but the projection of the values and quality of life abroad? We can be peace makers and we invented peace keeping. Seeing how dictators and warlords of all stripes abuse their own citizens, Canada helped launch the idea of human security. Abusive governments cannot simply claim national sovereignty and destroy human live. Human beings deserve some degree of security of person. It is part of our responsibility to protect them. Just recently we helped protect Libyans from a leader who called his own people “rats.”
Being pro-life is an old Canadian value that needs to be rediscovered. To include the unborn, fragile and dependent young life as it develops in the womb into the rich mosaic of Canadian life seems to me to be squarely in the centre of what we are as Canadians.