Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/12/2008 (4683 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
But Stephen Harper's Conservatives immediately threw cold water of Bruinooge's proposal, as the government reiterated its commitment not to reopen the debate.
"Throughout his political career, the prime minister has been clear on this issue," said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Harper. "We will not introduce or support legislation on abortion."
Bruinooge recently became chairman of an all-party parliamentary caucus that opposes abortion. According to media reports, the secretive caucus plans to push for laws to restrict abortions, and remedy what it believes is insufficient legislation governing abortion in the country.
"I actually think it's sort of sad," said Madeline Boscoe, advocacy co-ordinator at Women's Health Clinic in Winnipeg. "I think it does say something, that we always need to remember that sexual reproductive rights for women are always vulnerable."
"It's hardly news that Mr. Bruinooge is politically and personally anti-choice, and it's hardly news that there are folks from all parties who hold that personal viewpoint," said Klinic Community Health Centre executive director Lori Johnson. "They're certainly entitled to. That they've formed a caucus, it's not newsworthy nor is it surprising."
Johnson said she thought the MP might have to answer to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for reviving the debate.
Bruinooge could not be reached for comment Monday. A spokeswoman said he was in hospital with his wife Chantale, who on Monday was in labour with their second child.
According to a Winnipeg Free Press online poll, as of late Monday afternoon 78 per cent of respondents said the federal government should not reopen the abortion debate, while 21 per cent believed it should. More than 2,600 people took part in the non-scientific poll.
Not everyone opposed Bruinooge's plan.
"I definitely think that people need to think more about this, about what it really is," said Natalie Colton, a spokeswoman for League for Life Manitoba.
Colton believes the government should step in and give women who are pregnant an alternative to abortion. "I think it (abortion) is kind of a last desperate resort for women and they don't know where to turn," she said.
University of Manitoba political sciences professor Paul Thomas said Harper will likely try to steer clear of hot-button issues over the next few months, but will have to avoid alienating his more conservative supporters, for whom the abortion debate is important.
However, Thomas said Bruinooge's comments aren't likely to get him into trouble, so long as the discussion stays within the caucus process and doesn't launch a private member's bill.
-- With files from Cameron MacLean
What Free Press readers are saying...
Excerpts from some of the e-mails sent to the Free Press in light of Rod Bruinooge's pledge to revive the abortion debate:
I don't think this qualifies as an issue that MPs get to decide for Canadians. This should have been made clear at election time. I wouldn't have voted for Rod had he mentioned his stand on the issue. This will help me in future elections. I will question the candidate more thoroughly and I will advocate for making MPs accountable on these types of ideological issues. Very disappointed. Rod is out of touch!
-- Claudia Mackay
I for one was greatly heartened to read that Rod Bruinooge wants to reopen the abortion debate. Perhaps one of the most promising parts of this article was the statement that "there are supporters from every party" in the pro-life caucus. It's time that Canadians realize that this is not an issue that can be clearly divided along political party lines. Rather, the issue for many Canadians -- hopefully of any political stripe -- is one of rights for the unborn, truly the most innocent and defenceless members of any society.
-- Gloria Fligg
The debate should not even be considered. If Bruinooge did not have this initiative in his campaign for election then he should resign for misleading the voters.
-- Ron Sprague
I am a 65-year-old mother of three. I am not a silent majority. Absolutely no one, male or female, has the right to dictate to a female whether she should continue a pregnancy against her will. How dare any person take away the right of body from another! ...Mr. Bruinooge's remarks insult the intelligence of the majority of Canadians; especially women, and our supreme court. Obviously, the man does not think a woman capable of making her own decisions and certainly he has no respect for our federal court of law.
-- Judith Topolniski
I think that this is another example that shows just how out of touch the rank and file of the Conservative party are with the majority of Canadians, who don't want this issue reopened. It's easy for men to say that we are pro-life or pro-choice since none of us will ever get pregnant. If you are a woman, get pregnant and are pro-life, it's very simple: Don't get an abortion if you don't want one. That's your right, but don't try to force your own beliefs onto others in your situation who do want to get an abortion.
-- Kyle Dell
I am incensed to think that this subject of abortion is aglow again. A woman has the right to choose and we don't need some politician telling us what to do with our body. The politician who proceeds to go forth and promote this policy will not get my vote.
-- Audrey Vail
I do not approve of the Conservative party opening up the subject of abortion rights for women. Most Canadians agree it is the choice of the woman whether or not she wants a child. It is not up to them or anyone else to make that decision. There are far too many neglected and unwanted children in our country now; we do not need to force women to have children they do not want or are not capable of supporting or caring for. I am the mother of six grown children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I love all of my family, and believe that all children should be wanted and cared for.
-- Joan Boldt
Kindly tell Rod Bruinooge to mind his own business. My body is my body and he has no right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it. Any decisions made with regard to this topic are made within the family home -- not by the government. Mr. Bruinooge certainly has the right to his say when it affects his family and only his family... Why don't Mr. Bruinooge and the other MPs concern themselves with what is happening with the economy -- not what goes on in the privacy of Canadian homes.
-- Avrian Boroditsky
Dear Mr. Bruinooge,
We were appalled to read that you intend stirring up the pot again re the pro-life issue. We have gone around and around on this issue for years and thought it had been settled. Not everybody shares your fundamentalist viewpoint on this issue obviously. We believe that it is the right of the individual to choose. ... With all of the problems going on in the world, we would like to think that you could find something more constructive to do with your mandate. After all, you are paid by the taxpayers and we have already made our choice. Please give it a rest.
-- Bob & Norma Beckingham