Thursday, April 26, 2012

If they were serious about reducing abortion rates…

A quarter of a century ago I attended protest rallies to stop the then Conservative government of Canada from bringing forward legislation to take away women’s rights to decide what to do with their own bodies.

Today, there are protests against the current Conservative government of Canada’s effort to bring forward legislation to take away women’s rights to decide what to do with their own bodies.

For those opposed to abortion, prohibition won't stop it — that will just lead to more dead or mutilated women like there were before it was legalized. If you really want to stop abortions, work to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that cause them.

So, what’s the single biggest factor in rates of unwanted pregnancy? Women who are living in poverty. If you’re opposed to abortions (or pro-choice, for that matter) — the best thing to do is to work to end women's poverty.

See also:

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vote strategically, or vote your conscience?

With the way the Alberta provincial election seems to be shaping up, I’ve heard a lot of folks talking about possibly voting strategically for the Progressive Conservative Party in their ridings out of desperation to avoid having the Wildrose Party win. People are struggling with whether to vote for the candidates most likely to block the candidates they dread, or to vote for the candidate that would best represent them.

I’ll avoid, for the moment, discussing here the broken nature of our electoral system that leads to such choices…

Voting Your Conscience

It’s never a mistake to vote your conscience — to vote for the candidate who best represents your values — even if you expect them to “not have a chance”. Even if they don't win, showing support for those candidates shows which positions have support and does a couple things:

  1. It shows those elected which types of voters they need to appeal to more.

    When the Alberta Greens saw significant increases in percentage of vote (even though we didn’t win seats from those votes) there was a corresponding increase in some of the green policies being adopted by the provincial government — a prime example being the grizzly bear hunt ban. Subsequently, when the Alberta Greens were taken over and shut down (the takeover was led by a fellow who is now a Wildrose candidate, make of that what you will), there was a corresponding backtracking on those policies — in this example, the grizzly hunt ban was lifted.

    Even parties that don’t win can affect policies because the winning party wants to get some of those votes in the subsequent election.

  2. People who vote mostly vote for who they think can win. A party that receives increasing votes in an election stands a much better chance in the next election because more people will think they have a chance of winning. It’s not good that so many people vote that way, but it’s reality.

    So, we’re not just voting for this election, but for future elections, too, where there will hopefully be better chances of people we support winning.

Strategic Voting

All that said, there are times where a “hold your nose” strategic vote may be your best choice.

I once (just once) voted for a federal Progressive Conservative candidate, Joe Clark, in order to prevent the election of a Reform/Alliance candidate. Clark was definitely on the “Red Tory” side of that party (before it was taken over by Reform/Alliance), and even served as parade marshall for the Calgary Pride Parade one year — so it wasn’t an utterly heinous choice.

So, what should one do?

In the end, both the strategic and conscience votes have an impact — so neither can be dismissed out of hand as invalid choices in our current system. It’s up to you, as an individual citizen, to make the hard decision which of the possible outcomes is the better focus for your vote.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it, when the media and leading parties try to marginalize diverse opinions, all of our votes do actually make a difference.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Wildrose Alliance Party would set back social advances in Alberta

A survey of party leaders conducted by the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association last year has some troubling quotes from Wildrose Alliance Party leader Danielle Smith:
The Wildrose is committed to enshrining property rights in an Alberta Constitution, and views the protection of property rights the most fundamental role of government.
So, property rights trump social responsibility, human rights, the environment, health, education, democracy?

And, yes, in spite of recent denials and obfuscations, she is on the record in favour of “conscience rights”:
the Wildrose will ensure conscience rights for marriage commissioners and health professionals.

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