I haven’t always agreed with Tasha Kheiriddin—most notably her past columns on the postcard campaigns of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, as well as her analysis of the 2015 election outcome—but her column today over at iPolitics was bang-on. 

Kheiriddin noted that Justin Trudeau’s move to force applicants for Canada Summer Jobs Grant funding to “attest” their support for abortion rights, which Trudeau claims was put in place to weed out pro-life groups, is actually sidelining many different groups who felt uncomfortable stating public support for Canada’s abortion regime:

Religious organizations cried foul, claiming that they could not in good conscience sign such an attestation – not because they want to blitz neighbourhoods with anti-abortion pamphlets, but because they believe that abortion is morally unacceptable. Asking them to sign this attestation is tantamount to asking them to abandon their beliefs – a direct violation of section 2 of the Charter, which guarantees freedom of “conscience and religion, thought, belief, opinion, and expression.” Nevertheless, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the change, telling a town hall in Hamilton that, “Defending rights and freedoms is at the core of who I am and is the core of what Canada is…At the same time, we need to know there is a difference between freedom of expression and acting on those freedoms.”

Um, yes, we do – and it’s a difference that is taken very seriously. By his words, Trudeau effectively put the organization’s activities into the same category as the words of Holocaust deniers Ernst Zundel, Jim Keegstra, or other persons who have been convicted of violating Canada’s prohibition against hate speech, defined as “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319 (of the Criminal Code).”

Kheiriddin then notes that Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has been running around accusing CCBR of “hate speech,” which is incidentally something she does to all pro-life groups. Her work at ARCC consists of attempting to bully Canadian small towns that choose to fly a pro-life flag for a day into taking it down, getting centres that help women in crisis pregnancies defunded, and generally trying to stomp out any hint of dissent to her dearly-held abortion absolutism. Arthur, Kheiriddin writes, even said that CCBR’s “signage incites hatred against [women], and the incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.”

That’s an interesting thing for Arthur to claim, especially since she already admitted to the CBC earlier this week that it is abortion supporters who are generally guilty of violence in this context:

Arthur said anti-abortion groups deliberately display such grisly images on signs to generate public shock and outrage, sometimes provoking people to vandalize the signs — or even assault those carrying them.

Have you ever read such overt victim-blaming? Young people—generally young women, which drives Arthur nuts—stand in the public square, presenting their point of view and engaging with Canadians. But if someone attacks them—often a male, by the way—it is Joyce Arthur’s opinion that the perpetrators were “provoked” to “assault” these girls. In other words, Arthur is presumably (there is no evidence for this) against assaulting young pro-life women, but if it happens while they are presenting their point of view—they must have been asking for it. That is how far abortion activists will go to defend their position. As I’ve written before, violence against pro-life activists in Canada is routine. 

Meanwhile, Kheiriddin is dismissive—if not contemptuous—of the idea that abortion victim photography is the “hate speech” that ARCC claims it is—and even that the images are “traumatizing”:

Frankly, I’ve seen far more upsetting images of people – including children – on the front pages of newspapers, dying in war, blown up by terrorist bombs, or injured in a variety of natural disasters.  The image of Aylan Kurdi, a four-year old Syrian refugee lying dead in the sand on a Turkish beach, haunts me still.  Yet an organization dedicated to ending war, that would use such an image, would not be taken to court for displaying it. Neither would the women who marched on Washington dressed as giant vaginas with teeth be told that their outfits are too “upsetting” to be out in public, even though I wouldn’t want my eight-year-old daughter to stare at those all day either.

Groups make political statements with imagery every day – but as long as they do not call for or seek to incite violence, they are not running afoul of hate laws.  I don’t agree with those who would enforce a blanket ban on abortion.  But in a free country, believing that abortion is murder is not a crime. Neither is saying it – or showing it. There’s a difference between promoting hatred, and provoking debate.

It’s refreshing to see a journalist who recognizes the unhinged statements of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada for what they are: Hysteria. Joyce Arthur, in her crusade to see those women who do not agree with her forced out of the public square and ordered to shut up by the force of the law, is even willing to say that if they get beaten up while attempting to discuss abortion, then it was their outreach that “provoked it.” Ms. Arthur should be ashamed of herself. As usual, she won’t be. 

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