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Posts Tagged ‘abortion

Green Maritimes? Prince Edward Island elects Green Party MLA

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

The Green Party and the NDP combined for more than 20% of the vote in yesterday’s provincial election in Prince Edward Island. In a province where only Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have run government and only one member of legislative assembly (MLA) came from a 3rd party, the electorate wanted something other than chocolate and vanilla.

The Liberals stayed in power though they lost 4 seats of their margin: unofficially 18 Liberals, 8 Progressive Conservatives, and 1 Green Party MLA.

Country dentist Peter Bevan-Baker became the first MLA of a 3rd party since 1996 and only the second ever in the history of the province. Bevan-Baker joins David Coon of New Brunswick as Green Party MLAs in the Maritimes.

Bevan-Baker was running in his 10th election and had never been elected to any post … until Monday.

Wade MacLauchlan retains his post as premier with a late comeback to win his own district. MacLauchlan was the only one who ran for the Liberal Party leadership after long-time premier Robert Ghiz resigned.

Rob Lantz, the Progressive Conservative leader, didn’t win his own district. Both MacLauchlan and Lantz became their party leaders in February.

Mike Redmond was running his first race as NDP leader. Redmond finished 3rd of 4 candidates in his district but fellow NDP candidate Gord McNeilly came so close to winning a district. McNeilly was leading with all but one poll remaining, but the last poll put incumbent Liberal Kathleen Casey over the top.

Herb Dickieson of the NDP was the only MLA not from the 2 major parties to be elected in 1996. Dickieson is a physician and Bevan-Baker a dentist, so both MLAs from 3rd party are doctors when not being politicians.

* MacLauchlan is the first openly gay premier elected in Prince Edward Island and the second openly gay premier in Canada alongside Kathleen Wynne in Ontario.

* The NDP and Green Party wanted to challenge the province’s stance on not allowing abortions. The PCs and Liberal Party campaigned on keeping the status quo on abortions.

* Prince Edward Island is the smallest of the provinces in terms of population (74,571 voted in the 2011 election) but its voter turnout is astoundingly high. The province had an 84.6% voter turnout in this election. PEI has only had 2 voter turnouts in almost 50 years at less than 80%, with 2011 coming in at 76.4%.

Would love to see the 2015 Canadian federal election come close to those marks.

If you watched the CBC Charlottetown coverage or listened to it via CBCT on CBC Radio One out of Charlottetown, you might have recognized Bruce Rainnie. Rainnie is known in sports circles for his coverage of numerous sports. Rainnie has even filled in on Hockey Night in Canada telecasts.

Despite his sports prowess, Rainnie is the news anchor of CBC News: Compass, the only TV newscast geared specifically toward Prince Edward Island.

As someone who has done news and sports on radio, I can appreciate someone who can do both jobs rather well, and Rainnie certainly belongs in that category.

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Written by democracysoup

May 5, 2015 at 10:15 am

Posted in Canada

Tagged with ,

New Brunswick goes Liberal and adds a Green MLA

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

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New Brunswick flipped back to the Liberals, but not by much.

The Liberals took back the government in New Brunswick by an unofficial count of 27-21-1. The 1 went to the Green Party. Much more on that later.

Brian Gallant is the premier-designate. The Progressive Conservatives’ David Alward is out after one term, same as the Liberals’ Shawn Graham. Before Alward’s win in 2010, New Brunswick premiers have gone at least 2 terms since Confederation.

Gallant and the Liberals led early in the race, but the PCs made some progress toward the end of the race.

The themes of the night were very close races and frustration over getting vote counts from the new tabulation machines system. The PCs are asking for a hand count of the votes. 5 of the 49 ridings were decided by fewer than 100 votes.

David Coon will represent the Fredericton South riding for the Green Party, the only MLA not from a major party. The NDP hadn’t elected a MLA in 9 years, and NDP leader Dominic Cardy came up empty last night. Cardy says he will resign as party leader.

The People’s Alliance almost took a seat, but also fell short.

The Liberals won in great part over being vague on shale gas and the potential for fracking. Coon also won his seat in great part over the issue. If the Liberals thought about fracking, the close margin and Coon’s presence will make that more difficult. Nova Scotia is introducing legislation to ban fracking this fall.

Without shale gas and fracking, the economy and jobs and keeping young people in the province will be paramount for the new Gallant government. That, along with a massive provincial debt, will make the Liberals job that much tougher. Not having a consenus majority will also make those tasks difficult.

I watched and listened extensively to the CBC coverage last night. In all that time, the word “abortion” was never mentioned. The closing of the Morgentaler Clinic definitely weighed on New Brunswick voters. A rough economy means people can’t afford unwanted children; limiting abortion options hurts the economy even further. Unfortunately for pro-choice advocates, the close margin may make change more difficult for the Liberals.

The PC party went from 41 seats (out of 55) to 21 seats. The Liberals went from 13 seats to 27 seats. The independent seat went Green in this election. New Brunswick voters wanted a significant change for the second election in a row.

Even in the relatively poor Maritimes, New Brunswick is hurting. According to former Lt. Gov. Mariliyn Trenholme Counsell, the province has the lowest literacy rates of all provinces with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Counsell also noted that over half of New Brunswick’s citizens 15-65 “do not have the necessary literacy levels (level 3) or the workplace essential skills to compete in the workplace.”

We heard a lot during the CBC coverage about young people moving to Alberta to make more money and because they aren’t many good jobs in New Brunswick.

I enjoyed my time in New Brunswick and the province is absolutely gorgeous to see. But I could definitely see the economic concerns that plague the province. Let’s hope the people of New Brunswick can figure out some of these heartbreaking issues. And strength to the new Liberal government: Brian Gallant and his fellow Liberals will need all the help they can get.

photo credit: me

New Brunswick forced to confront abortion access issue

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

We will have at least one more provincial election in 2014, the regularly scheduled election in New Brunswick on September 22. We might have a key issue in New Brunswick with a topic that rarely comes up in Canadian political circles these days: abortion.

Morgentaler Clinic

New Brunswick is pretty spread out as a province. Prince Edward Island is pretty far away, even from Fredericton.

The Morgentaler Clinic was the only private clinic in New Brunswick, with no private clinics in Prince Edward Island, to offer abortions. The clinic closes its doors tomorrow.

Those who go to the Morgentaler Clinic have to pay for the abortions. The clinic had been subsidizing abortions but could no longer stay afloat financially.

Under the law in New Brunswick, a woman who wants an abortion covered by medicare must have 2 doctors certify in writing that the procedure is medically necessary and the abortion must be done by an obstetrician/gynecologist in approved hospitals (one each in Moncton and Bathurst).

(Moncton is in southeastern New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy; Bathurst is in northeastern New Brunswick near Quebec on Chaleur Bay.)

Many of the clinic’s patients came from Prince Edward Island. The provincial government claim no doctors in the province will do abortions; the province sends women to a hospital in Halifax provided they have a referral from their family doctor.

Distance. Money. Time. All these factors make getting an abortion in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island difficult, even with the clinic.

Where we are now in Fredericton

The Progressive Conservatives, under Premier David Alward, have a considerable advantage in the legislature. The PCs have 41 seats, the Liberals have 13 seats, with 1 Independent MLA.

While the New Brunswick legislature currently has 55 seats, the parties will be vying for 49 seats in the September election.

On the surface, the PCs shouldn’t have a concern. Sure the economy isn’t great in the province, but the Liberals have a lot of ground to make up to get enough MLAs for a majority. The NDP don’t even have a seat currently in Fredericton.

Brian Gallant (Liberal) and Dominic Cardy (NDP) don’t have much of a chance to be the next New Brunswick premier. The timing of the election and the abortion issue could shake up the makeup of the New Brunswick legislature.

Gallant has said a Liberal government would “move swiftly to address this issue in a comprehensive way, once and for all, and ensure we are respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

Gallant knows the Liberals are in a tough situation. Be too specific and risk losing votes. But voters need to know that the situation will improve for women if the party gains power in Fredericton.

Of the 55 current MLAs in the legislature, 7 of them are women.

Where we will be in September

The federal fight over abortion, while not as loud these days, focuses on federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, whose position is that the party and its MPs be pro-choice, and federal Conservative backbenchers, who would love to make abortion more difficult nationwide.

New Brunswick isn’t concerned with what happens on the federal level. However, even conservatives in New Brunswick will have to recognize that the loss of the Morgentaler Clinic is a political issue in September.

The Maritimes are a conservative place, especially on abortion. The Morgentaler Clinic was a beacon of hope in women’s health care. And now it’s gone. But it could be the start of a movement to bring the region in line with the rest of Canada.

This is a political issue until September 22. No matter which party wins that day, abortion rights will still be a health care and economic concern in New Brunswick.

Ontario is better destination for jobs thanks to Michigan’s ‘right to work’ status

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Ontario isn’t in the best shape these days. Huge debt, teacher problems, and a premier with a minority government who is still in office but not for long.

Compared to the folks across the border in Michigan, Canada’s most populous province is singing Hallelujahs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been signing bills right and right (not left and right) taking away worker rights, access to birth control, overriding voters insistence on getting rid of the takeover-a-city law. Snyder would have signed a bill allowing for guns in schools and day care centers, but the Sandy Hook school shooting made that virtually impossible to do right now.

Snyder was worried about competing for jobs with Indiana. He should have worried about Ontario.

For more on this story, check out this column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

2012 debate II: Mitt Romney can’t keep up with his multiple personalities

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If you were following Twitter and Facebook during the debate, you saw the rise of “binders full of women.” In watching the second presidential debate live, the line sneaked past me. When I saw “binders full of women” on social media, I realized I had missed something that was there all along.

John McCain had drafted Sarah Palin in part to appeal to those women frustrated by Hillary Clinton’s loss in the primary. Whatever you might think about McCain, Palin, or the McCain campaign, they were trying to get women to vote for them.

Soccer moms, security moms: these were the focus of past elections. Often ignored in the focus on women were single women. Married with children? Politicians cared. Single women? Uh, never mind.

President Barack Obama’s campaign has focused on single women with its policies, but the campaign people must realize that they are capturing single women by default. Transvaginal probes. Backlash against Sandra Fluke. The Mitt Romney campaign and the GOP have been driving away single women for the last two years. So even if you might wonder why “binders full of women” became such a big deal, this wasn’t about one comment in a debate; this has been building.

We found out later that Romney fudged when he said that this was his idea. An organization approached the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates with the idea of employing more women. Yes, it could get even worse.

The second debate spotlighted Romney telling Americans that he doesn’t believe in something and that isn’t his position. Then again, the accusations against Romney are his positions. This would be the sign of a particularly bad candidate, but there may be something more.

Three Faces of Eve, Sybil, depending on your generational perspective: Mitt Romney has many signs of multiple personalities. And the second debate proved conclusively that he is having trouble keeping them straight.

Romney says positions such as employers should have the right to deny women contraception through the insurance program (Blunt Amendment). In fact, Romney went out of his way to confirm that stand earlier this year. In the debate, when confronted with the reality of this stance, his reply was that of course he wasn’t in favor of that.

After the debate, the Romney campaign ran an ad from a former Obama supporter saying that she researched this and found out that Romney is in favor of contraception. To be fair, you can find that online. And you can also find that he doesn’t. The “doesn’t” speaks louder than the “does.”

The woman in the ad points out that Romney supports abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Paul Ryan does not, and Romney said he would sign into law a provision that doesn’t allow for exceptions. Yes, we are dealing with multiple personalities at work.

“Moderate” Romney has shown up during the debates, and can’t believe he would be accused of doing what “Conservative” Romney has been doing behind “Moderate” Romney’s back. As soon as the TV lights go out, he’s back to being “Conservative” Romney.

This isn’t funny, not just because Romney might be president, but because he comes across as sincere when denying his own stances. This is really sad.

Speaking of women and debates, Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz proved their gender strong in hosting debates. Crowley was the first women to host a presidential debate since Carole Simpson hosted the town hall debate in 1992.

You might remember that Katie Couric was supposed to host a Democratic primary debate in North Carolina in 2008. Hillary Clinton agreed to the debate, but Barack Obama said no to the April 27 date. To be fair, the objection from the Obama camp centered around doing a date before the Pennsylvania primary (April 22). The original April 19 date fell on the first night of Passover, so that idea was scrapped. And the original original date of December 2007 in Los Angeles fell through because no one wanted to cross the picket line when CBS journalists threatened to join the Hollywood writers strike.

Regular readers know of my strong dislike for Katie Couric’s attempts at real journalism. If Couric had done a debate, unfortunately for women, she would have set their gender back a decade.

The flaw with the current debate mode is that four people control what gets asked and what doesn’t in the presidential debate format: Jim Lehrer, Martha Raddatz, Candy Crowley, and Bob Schieffer. Having women in the mix offers some representation. You have an African-American man on stage as the incumbent president, and yet no journalists of color get to ask debate questions.

Having journalists correct obvious mistakes in a televised scenario would be an obviously good thing, especially when democracy is on the line. The situation is bad enough when obvious lies hit the transcript without so much as a bat of an eye. I remember covering politics with three GOP operatives hit the airwaves saying that George W. Bush wasn’t in charge on September 11, 2001, and none of them were corrected on the air.

We wish this nuance applied to minutia that comes down the pike, but when the lie is obvious, journalists have an obligation to speak up.

Candy Crowley did the right thing in the right moment. I wasn’t thrilled that she let Romney bully his way through the early part of the debate, and cut off President Obama in the middle of his answer. But at that moment, Crowley did what a journalist is supposed to do.

Not to take sides, but the GOP counts on journalists not doing their job more than Dems do. And Republicans freak out louder when journalists don’t act like a bullfighter as the charging lies — olé — pass by.

After not running on his record as governor of Massachusetts, Romney has decided to suddenly run on his record, but again only during the debates. Since Romney had not mentioned his record and Obama’s team didn’t say much about that, we don’t know much about what Romney did as Massachusetts governor.

The man has been running for governor for 5-6 years and we don’t know much about his stint as governor. The alternative press has done some digging, but the MSM is slow on this point. If Romney gets elected, he may set a new precedent for burying part of a candidate’s record: just don’t talk about it and see what happens.

The MSM has to react to a bell in order to chase the cheese. Remember how little effort they put into searching for George W. Bush’s DUI in 2000.

Chick-Fil-A should be about love, not hate

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Dan Cathy has kicked up the heat on Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage. Yes, we know the restaurant chain supports “traditional marriage” and contributes money to groups fighting against gay marriage. By making that stance more than obvious, Chick-Fil-A’s PR nightmare shows that associating a brand with hate, not love, is detrimental to the financial bottom line.

Conservatives are trying to help out the Chick-Fil-A franchise by declaring today as Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Pro gay marriage forces have organized a “kiss-in” for Friday. The conservatives, such as Mike Huckabee, Billy Graham, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum, aren’t necessarily there for the chicken sandwich, but there to counter the move toward equality in marriage.

For more on the coverage and an in-depth analysis, check out this column from our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com.

Everyone loves freedom, except for Mississippi on abortion

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We celebrated freedom in these United States this week. Freedom in Mississippi is hanging by a legal thread, as the state’s draconian laws that essentially eliminates abortion in the state are temporarily put on hold.

If you needed to get an abortion in Mississippi, you only had one option — in the capital, Jackson — which still meant a significant drive from anywhere else in the state.

The Republicans in Mississippi decided that one abortion provider in its state was one too many, and passed laws making it virtually impossible to perform the medical procedure. Requiring hospital privileges, something that isn’t necessary, was the key point of the Mississippi legislation.

The old stat that gets tossed around is that 85% of all U.S. counties have no abortion services; that statistic hasn’t improved. Roe v. Wade might still be the law of the land, but in many parts of these United States, the Supreme Court decision doesn’t even apply.

Mississippi isn’t surrounded by the most enlightened of states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. Factor in laws that require an overnight stay or limit teenagers from crossing state lines and women in that part of the South really have it rough.

You can get an abortion, especially an early-term abortion, in the United States, but getting that abortion is not as simple as wanting one.

This law, and the other similar laws, hurt sexual freedom in Mississippi and other states, but they also hurt economic freedom. If you can’t use your freedom to plan your family, you can end up with kids when you can’t afford them. Given the low benefits people in Mississippi and surrounding states receive, poor is as poor does.

We have learned throughout American history that even if laws are passed in Washington, often they come to the South and die. Black men had the right to vote thanks to the 15th Amendment, though the South got away with not allowing many blacks to be able to vote for the next 100 years.

Thanks to a judge’s ruling, the lone Mississippi abortion clinic can stay open, though little has been done before this point. One is too few, but still better than none.

Americans are good at talking about the idea of freedoms, but in reality, people aren’t nearly as free as they should be, especially compared to the rest of the First World. The European Union allows its citizens to go freely to live and work in another country; Americans, Canadians and Mexicans don’t have that freedom. Single-payer health care allows Canadians, Europeans, and others to pursue their own dreams without having to be tied down to a job for health insurance.

Poor Americans who are conservative want to keep taxes low on the off-chance that they might someday be rich. But they live in the First World country where that is the least likely to happen. And that was true long before the Great Recession of 2008.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states cannot pass laws posing substantial obstacles or undue burdens on a woman’s right to an abortion. Having one abortion provider in a state larger than Rhode Island would seem to be an undue burden. having none would definitely be an undue burden.

This isn’t to say that the American dream is an abortion provider on every corner. Reasonable access can be in the eyes of the beholder, though the largest city and capital of a U.S. state should have more than one provider, and political intimidation shouldn’t be used to reduce Americans freedom.

The next step comes July 11 when a federal judge hears from both sides on continuing the temporary injunction. If not, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be put out of business and more than just symbolically, Mississippi will become the first state in the country where economic and sexual freedom don’t exist.