By John-Henry Westen

Paul martinOTTAWA, January 16, 2006 ( – The Liberal party has moved from attacking Conservatives on gay ‘marriage’ to a full-out attack on pro-life issues. In his platform speech in Toronto on Wednesday, PM Paul Martin accused Conservative leader Stephen Harper of planning to take away women’s abortion ‘rights.’

“Members of Mr. Harper’s party have promised right-wing Conservative groups that if they are elected, they will ensure Parliamentary votes on a woman’s right to choose, on same-sex marriage and on other social issues,” said PM Martin.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Paul Martin, who professes himself to be “a very strong Roman Catholic”Âwent further than he ever has before in pushing abortion. On Thursday, January 12, 2006, Prime Minister Paul Martin appeared on CBC’s The National fielding questions from Canadian voters. Martin was questioned about his plan to remove the notwithstanding clause from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In answer, Martin launched into a nearly three minute diatribe on how a Conservative victory would lead to laws protecting human life from conception. However, Martin framed the remarks to paint such an outcome to be the worst possible event in Canada – a trampling of minority rights by a majority. The rights of children yet in the womb were totally ignored as were the rights of women not to continue to be pressured to accept abortion as their only alternative and their right to fully informed consent which many are currnently denied.

During his remarks he mentioned, “a woman’s right to choose” eight times, and did not use the phrase “right to life” or even the term “abortion” once. Moreover Martin self-interpreted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to grant a right to abortion.

What follows is a transcript of the question and the full response by the Liberal Leader:

Q. Are you concerned that by heightening this, heightening the Court’s authority that you will be infringing on the right of parliamentary supremacy?

A. Well ah, absolutely and and that’s the whole point. Ahm, I, I, I think in terms of our charter rights, ahm, I do not believe ah, that in fact the majority should have the right to take away the rights of the minority. That is the purpose of the Charter. We are a nation of minorities, ahm and parliament by the way is usually elected by a minority. I mean ah, one of the elections in 1997 we, the government won with 37 per cent of the vote. So the fundamental issue, the fundamental issue is who is going to protect, who is going to protect your rights?

Let, let me just, let me give you a, an example that I, that I have discussed and forgive me for taking the time, but I really think it’s an important question. The, the, there are a number of Conservatives, quite a large number of Conservative members of parliament who have said that they would take away a woman’s right to choose and in fact some of them are among the leaders. Stockwell Day and people who would be in, in, in, in, in cabinet.

The president of the Conservative party has said ah, that he has a roadmap to achieve that. There would be a private members bill brought into parliament. Now that private members bill would not pass today. But, if there were a majority of Conservative members, then that bill might well pass. So let’s assume and now this is a debate we all thought was over.

So lets assume that for the sake of discussion, parliament passed a law under a Conservative government taking away a woman’s right to choose. Then, it wouldn’t take that long, it would go to the senate. Over a period of time it would pass the senate. Now what would happen is that all of a sudden, that would the law of the land and so a woman’s right to choose would have been taken away and then it would be tested in the courts, there’d be an appeal un, under the Charter and all through that time it might go either way, but the woman’s right to choose would be in huge doubt, if not against the law.

Then the Supreme Court of Canada would decide. Now lets assume that the Supreme Court of Canada decided and they said, “that’s a Charter right, you can’t take away a woman’s right to choose.” Then what happens is, then parliament, it would go back to parliament and parliament would have a decision on the notwithstanding clause and since the original bill passed, parliament would vote the notwithstanding clause and suddenly the woman’s, a woman’s right to choose would have disappeared.

My view is that minority rights, Charter rights should not be taken away by the majority and that applies ah, in, in and that applies in a wide range of cases. I can’t believe that a woman’s right to choose actually being put in doubt, but the fact is that that roadmap is out there and it is an issue. And, and I believe that the only way which you protect it from ever becoming a, an issue is you essentially say parliament; governments are not to be able to overrule the Supreme Court and take away your Charter rights.