Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appears to be trying to put out fires where there is no smoke. Pre-emptive strikes can be a great thing, but when it involves a dictatorial grip on your party for no apparent reason, it’s a puzzling approach.
Seemingly out of the blue, Trudeau said on Wednesday that anyone who opposes pro-choice in regard to abortion should not apply to run for the Liberals in the next election. If they do apply, they’ll be weeded out. The pronouncement was accompanied by a statement from the leader that a woman should have the right to choose, and that it’s not a decision that should be up to the state.
In this day and age, that’s a policy by no means out of the ordinary for a government.
Not surprisingly, the stance has drawn sharp criticism from right-to-life organizations. We would expect such a reaction.
But it’s also drawn some fire from Liberals who, as with any matter of conscience, don’t agree. In cases where a person’s feelings on this issue are well known, the policy would dash any hope of vying for candidacy.
Trudeau went on to say that, as a party, they do not want to open this debate.
Fair to wonder how likely it is to be reopened – on Parliament Hill at least. Recall that Stephen Harper – whatever his personal beliefs might be – muffled the attempts of any among his backbenchers to bring forward any measures having to do with abortion.
Trudeau, perhaps, is trying to avoid that same kind of awkward situation in his caucus. But with both party leaders apparently avoiding any reawakening of debate on current laws, it seems strange to announce a hunt on pro-lifers.
This casts an uneasy pall over the process of finding good candidates, a suggestion that the thought police will be on the screening committee. Sure, it helps to have cohesion in a party, but it’s never good to stifle open, honest thinking. It also unnecessarily opens the leader to criticism for heavy-handedness.