National Post Confirms Tories Sank Benoit Bill Over Abortion Issue Fears
By Steve Jalsevac
OTTAWA, August 8, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The National Post, in an article today by Peter O’Neil, confirmed what many had suspected was the real, withheld reason the Conservatives killed Conservative MP Leon Benoit’s Bill C-291 in May. The revelation has Campaign Life Coalition’s national coordinator Mary Ellen Douglas fuming about what she believes has been Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s deviousness in the affair.
C-291 proposed making it a separate offence to kill or injure an unborn child while committing a violent crime against its mother. A Freedom of Information enquiry by the Post revealed that Justice Minister Vic Toews was warned in an unsigned briefing note on C-291 from government bureaucrats that, “Any change to the definition of a ‘human being’ in the Criminal Code could have the effect of criminalizing abortion.”
The note goes on, reports the Post, to state, “The government has no plans to propose any reforms in this area of the law.” ONeill links the latter sentence to Harper’s Jan. 17 statement, “I’ll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn’t come to a vote.”
Toew’s instruction to the parliamentary committee that subsequently declared the bill unvotable, however, did not mention abortion, despite that being the real reason the government wanted the bill killed. Instead the Justice Minister’s written advice vaguely stated that the bill “clearly” violated the Constitution including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It gave no indication how the proposed bill violated the Charter.
Benoit’s bill was drafted in response to the violent deaths of two pregnant Edmonton women, 19-year-old Olivia Talbot and her unborn child Lane, who were shot and killed when the Edmonton woman was 27 weeks pregnant with baby Lane, and Liana White, who was killed along with her unborn child. In both cases the deliberately murdered babies were treated during sentencing as non-entities by the courts.
Mrs. Mary Talbot, the mother of Olivia Talbot who was six months pregnant when her assailant shot her once in the head and her child in utero three times, traveled from Alberta to speak to the committee, but was denied the opportunity to do so. She was also denied the opportunity to have the committee consider a powerful photo of her deceased daughter together with her also murdered granddaughter who appeared as much of a baby as many newborns.
Olivia Talbot was six months pregnant when her assailant shot her once in the head and her child in utero three times.
Campaign Life Coalition’s Mary Ellen Douglas told the Post’s Peter O’Neil that the government’s reasons for scuttling the bill were “legally flawed”. She also indicated that the Conservatives were acting in a “devious” way in trying to kill C-291 to appease Prime Minister Harper’s determination to totally avoid the abortion issue, while also trying not to offend his substantial social conservative base. “It’s all Harper pulling strings,” Douglas told the Post.
In an interview today with LifeSiteNews.com Douglas emphasized that Leon Benoit had thoroughly done his homework on the bill to make sure it was constitutionally sound. She charged that “Harper was protecting himself and didn’t have the courage to say that, in his opinion, this (the bill) is just the social conservatives trying to slip in abortion through the back door.”
Douglas emphasized that “C-291 was not about abortion. It was about justice for victims of a crime. This was not about a woman on the way to an abortion clinic. The Alberta murders had absolutely nothing to do with abortion. Olivia Talbot was well on her way to having a baby.”
Douglas continued that C-291 was not a “pro-life” bill per se. She emphasized it rather addressed the legal discrimination of unborn murder victims being treated in law as non-entities, thereby denying justice to next of kin over the violent loss of their young relatives.
Vic Toews’ parliamentary secretary Rob Moore argued during the one hour debate on C-291 that the law would be ruled as unconstitutional by courts because a killer might be unaware of a woman’s pregnancy and, therefore, have no idea he was ending two lives. Douglas responded to LifeSiteNews that in the case of Olivia Talbot and similar murders, the unborn child was in fact clearly targeted. As well, Douglas, noted, “when someone shoots through a door and kills an intended victim and/or others, the killer is charged for every death, regardless of intent. Why should it be so totally different because one of the victims is not yet out of the womb?”
See related LifeSiteNews.com reports:
The Inside Story on the Kibosh of the Canadian Unborn Victims of Violence Bill
Canada Unborn Victims of Violence Bill Loses Appeal to be Declared Votable
Canada Unborn Victims of Violence Bill to be Resurrected in Coming Months Says MP
Canadian Prime Minister Big Improvement Over Liberal PMs But Clearly Not Pro-life
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Not Pro-Life – The Evidence