Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Politician's Right to Choose

I was chatting with two other teachers in my department today and--as the conversation turned to a sort of glossily political one (which is all most teachers are capable of)--I was flabbergasted to hear one of them describe Stephen Harper as "scary." Not, of course, flabbergasted because I'd never heard him so called. The rock I live under isn't quite that big. No. Rather, my reaction sprang from pure snobbishness. It was spontaneous cosmopolitan revulsion at what I felt certain was funk; I had been under the strong impression until that moment that, even amongst Liberals, the consensus on this word "scary" was that it had finally reached its fashionable flatline. Scary's out, I could have sworn I heard them saying, lose it or we'll start seeming unoriginal. (Not progressive, that is. Comte forbid!) ... So when my colleague said this--so far from being politically offended--all I could think was: don't you feel a little tacky saying that? Nevermind vacuous, histrionic, adolescent: don't you feel lame repeating this line for, like, the zillionth time?

Alas, apparently not even the threat of being outré can knock the stupidity out of stupids. Old man Harper's got a long, exceedingly slow-moving, and very up uphill battle to parry his way through before he'll be accepted as anything more imaginative than "scary."

Which, suffice it to say, makes his hold on power ultra-tenuous. In a pinch, doomed.

And thus his prevaricating on abortion. Fr. Raymond de Souza calls the PM's stance on the issue a "commitment to inaction," but, really, can you blame him? Harper, I mean. The man squeaked through the election with a paper-thin minority, against a party who--I am convinced--couldn't have got any fewer seats if its running members were actual weasels ... And he only got that far because he cut the testicles off his position on undoing same-sex marriage. Any talk about revising our abortion laws now would be tantamount to his, say, going public with this great idea he's had for a new flag: still largely red, but with a splash of white in its centre, encircling a kind of crooked cross.

There's terrible irony--Father Raymond, I know--in abortion and homosexual marriage being among the few of post-1967-Canada's sacred cows ... But now's hardly the time to go trying to point that out to (what remains to be) a majority of Liberals who only voted Conservative in the last election for fear of looking like (that most unfashionable of things) dupes if they didn't.

While the Church's position on political suicide is likely not nearly as unforgiving as it is on the regular variety, that's exactly where abortion'll take the new government. Which, of course, would destroy any possibility of reasonable discussion of the issue for the next twenty years at least.