Absolute Equality

Absolute Equality -

Executive, Legislative, Judiciary

I have had occasion to wonder what world some of our MPs live in and yesterday was one of those occasions. The Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, Dan Albas, spoke out about what he feels is a real threat to our democracy – the courts. He thinks that people are going to the courts to challenge legislation that his government is pushing through, you know, going through the back door to change what democratically elected MPs are doing in Parliament. And that people are pushing the courts to force policies that the government doesn’t like: 

“Often the Plan B is to do an end-run around our democratic process and turn to the courts where it seems some judges are quite happy to engage. This can result in decisions contrary to what have been decided in our democratic process.” (From CBC’s The House)

There is only one problem with this rant of Albas’ and it’s this: That’s the actual point of the court system. The courts are one of the three branches of democracy in this country – the judicial one, to be specific. Citizens are allowed to use the courts when they believe that laws being made by those democratically elected representative are unconstitutional.

It is not secret that the Conservative government is no fan of the courts. They have fought against and ignored Supreme Court decisions since they were first elected in 2006. They have also spent a lot of time trying to re-imagine the way democracy was designed to work in this country. This is just one blatant example of that.

Rights vs rights

Last week a woman in Calgary took a photo of a sign on the door of a health clinic that advised patients that the doctor on duty would not prescribed birth control.

The doctor said that birth control goes against her religious beliefs, and she has a legal right to not prescribe it. But what about the legal right of her patients?

There was a very interesting debate held on CBC’s Day 6 this morning about this issue. The debate between two medical ethicists looked at both sides of the issue. While I do believe that a doctor has a right to their own beliefs, when it comes to birth control I have rather strong feelings.

Birth control is medication for me. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome and I was prescribed birth control before I was even sexually active to help me control my hormones. There are other diseases that have the same treatment, but this doctor would refuse to treat my PCOS or another woman’s endometriosis because she believes that birth control is morally wrong.

A bigger issue for me, though, is that if I am going to a doctor that won’t prescribe me birth control because he or she is opposed to it, I am much less likely to discuss other medical issues that I am having for fear that he or she will judge me and my lifestyle. We do not live in a country where your religion dictates my life.

And let’s face it, when this doctor talks about being morally opposed to birth control, that opposition comes from religion because there is no scientific reason. It seems that a doctor who is so religious as to be opposed to a totally legal and widely available medication should maybe reconsider going into a general practice.

“Wife”

Imagine that a female politician puts her foot in her mouth – is said to have made a ludicrous statement, that is – and in response a national newspaper columnist write a letter to her husband.

Picture the outrage.

Now why is it alright for a columnist to ask a wife what her husband was thinking?

I’m not sure what bothers me most, the assumption that two people who are married must have one opinion, or the assumption that anyone who thinks differently from you must be wrong and stupid.

The language in the letter seems to mean to be insulting, referring to the human rights activist as a bombshell and referring to her husband as her ‘baby daddy’ and informing Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay that her days are now apparently spent as a “glorified lactation device” and baking cookies who is incapable of asking her husband to help around the house. And also that her husband – who became a federal cabinet minister after being a Crown attorney and is presumable not a complete idiot – is a bumbling idiot.

Apparently it is “woman’s work” to mould their husbands into better human beings. I haven’t met a lot of smart, beautiful women with purpose who have married as beneath themselves in the way Leah McLaren seems to imply here.

Judging by her reply Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay has not hung up her saddle in terms of speaking her mind.

Or “lashing out” as this reporter called it, which irked me. Presumably if a man had written similarly he would not be described in those same terms.

The fact is, as Afshin-Jam MacKay mentions, that no one knows exactly what MacKay said at the Ontario Bar Association about the lack of women judges in federal courts. I mean presumably a group of lawyers wouldn’t misquote someone like this, Afshin-Jam MacKay refers to it as slander.

Afshin-Jam MacKay offers a compelling argument for her husband, who she says was raised by a single mother who was also a feminist. And certainly a man who didn’t believe in women at least a little bit would never have married such a strong, outspoken one.

Also read: A Thank you letter to Leah McLaren

Women are mothers first?

Our justice minister put his foot firmly in his mouth last week when he said that he believes that women aren’t applying to be judges because they are more concerned about their children – they have more of a bond with their children. Women were insulted by this statement – men should also be insulted – and MacKay took the opportunity to re-word but reiterate what he had said.

This week emails came out showing the stark differences between the Minister’s messages to mothers and fathers in his department for their respective days of celebration: Women hold down two jobs, whatever they do at Justice and being caregivers and housekeepers. Men, meanwhile, are shaping the minds of future leaders of this country.

Well, it’s nice to know that men play some role in child-rearing.

So basically Peter MacKay thinks that we still live in the good old days of an easy split between a man’s role in the family and a woman’s. Which is totally ridiculous in this day and age.

Totally ridiculous.

We are a country of single mothers, same-sex couples, childless couples and double income families. With growing expenses and debt levels it really does take a village to raise a child.

Of course MacKay’s idea of what a mom is and what a dad does shouldn’t really be a surprise given this government’s thoughts on national childcare. You know, $100 a month being enough.

Reality doesn’t play into the scenario.