Stephen Harper reminds me of the Cholla cactus in the Arizona desert. Cholla needles are fiendish. They seem to literally jump into one’s flesh. The needles have little barbs at their points containing tiny hinges. Once embedded in one’s flesh the tiny hinges open out. This prevents an easy removal and causes much pain. But desert creatures can also hide behind Cholla, potentially more dangerous things. Once when walking I stumbled upon a nest of rattlesnakes, half a dozen or more, behind a large patch of Cholla. The Cholla was readily visible, I could easily walk around. But when you are surprised by a partially hidden nest of rattlesnakes, and even if only one is coiled, you daren’t walk around. Or walk at all. If you are lucky and keep your calm you can slowly, very slowly, back away without harm. Which I managed to do in spite of fear and trembling and lived to tell about the adventure.
Only we (especially women) don’t have time now to slowly back away from a potential nest of rattlesnakes we may be facing, and soon. We must brave the Cholla and swiftly take the rattlesnake nest by surprise. I’m talking about the federal election, of course. But what’s so different about this federal election? Because if Stephen Harper gets a majority, and maybe even just re-elected, we can kiss good bye many of the most important gains women (and men) have made in the last twenty year in human rights. How so? Because Stephen Harper has access to a nest of his own private rattlesnakes. When he says he will not open the abortion debate, or allow a private member’s bill to even come forward it’s because he doesn’t have to do these things in order to knock down women’s right to safe abortion. In fact, he hardly has to do anything to re-criminalize abortion.
How? Only by carefully and selectively appointing four new judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. It was a group of thoughtful and fair minded Supreme Court of Canada judges that knocked down the criminalization of abortion in the first place. But there could be a huge shake up in the next few years in the make-up of this court. Four Supreme Court Judges must retire within the next four years because of age requirements. And who will appoint the new Supreme Court judges of Canada? The Prime Minister. And if reelected, that will be Stephen Harper.
If Stephen Harper gets re-elected, especially with a majority, we can expect him to appoint new judges who are ideologically and/or religiously opposed to abortion just as he is. By achieving his objective this way, he can say he didn’t personally bring in the legislation to make abortion illegal again, that it was done by the Supreme Court of Canada. I believe most judges try to be. impartial. However, judges are people like everybody else and bring to their work their own belief systems just as everybody else does. I have experienced many times how the belief systems of too many judges in BC (most are former corporate lawyers) enables them to rule to the right (in favor of the logging corporations) in their judgments on environmental issues because that’s where their beliefs are. And Stephen Harper will certainly seek out the judges who share his views on abortion and homosexuality.
Stephen Harper belongs to a fundamentalist church (Christian and Missionary Alliance Church) that strongly opposes abortion (note: Harper wouldn’t allow abortion to be part of the overseas maternal health program). This church also strongly opposes divorce, condemns homosexuality, opposes universal day care centres, won’t ordain women and believes that Jesus Christ’s return to earth is immanent and that those who aren’t “born again” will be lost in a lake of fire. I think it fairly safe to assume that Stephen Harper will seek to appoint judges that reflect his own personal and/or religious beliefs especially if he is reelected.
But there are enough women in this country to stop Stephen Harper cold at the voting booth. Let’s do it. Just think of four new judges on the Supreme Court of Canada bench with Stephen Harper’s religious/ ideological mind set and how they will rule on issues concerning abortion and same sex marriage. Sort of like a nest of rattlesnakes all coiled to strike? Metaphorically speaking? Isn’t that enough to stoke up your much maligned latent (or overtly) feminist heart, men and women alike? And make us all decisive in the voting booth.