Let The Abortion Issue Go

Since 1969 Canadian women have had access to legal abortions. Legalization originated with a bill introduced by then Justice Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, amending Section 251 of the Criminal Code allowing abortions if a woman’s “health” was deemed “at risk”. The word “health” wasn’t defined or limited. The government wasn’t involved, approvals granted by a panel of three doctors. Abortions took place in accredited hospitals by a licensed doctor, all other abortions remained under the Criminal Code.

In 1988 the Supreme Court struck down Section 251 of the Criminal Code following a challenge brought by Henry Morgentaler. The court ruled law not applied equally across the country violated the “security of the person” guarantee under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom – some hospitals didn’t form abortion committees, others approved all abortions, a few became known for unreasonably strict judgement. Only one of the seven Supreme Court Justices,  Madame Justice Bertha Wilson supported a woman’s right to abortion in the first trimester. Ultimately the court’s decision was based on procedural grounds. The court didn’t declare abortion a constitutional right, nor did it extend rights to a fetus.

In 1989 Prime Minister Mulroney introduced a bill restricting abortion to “health reasons only”, with a 2 year jail sentence for doctors who crossed the law. It passed the House of Commons, then fizzled into obscurity with a tie vote in the Senate. Since 1988, all Canadian woman have a right to legal abortion. Unrestricted up to the time of birth. In 2008 Dr. Henry Morgantaler was awarded the Order of Canada “for his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations.”

Why ponder abortion in Canada? A story out of Saskatchewan answers that question. With the Federal election in full swing, anti-abortion group CCBR (Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform) is going after Justin Trudeau. CCBR members first appeared on Saskatoon street-corners in June, offering pamphlets with graphic full colour images of aborted fetuses. Faster than Stephen Harper could call an election over the holiday weekend, CCBR members stuffed images of Justin Trudeau beside aborted fetuses into unsealed white envelopes, asking Canada Post to deliver “a vote for Trudeau is a vote for this” to unsuspecting households.

Julee Sanderson, head of the Canadian Postal Workers Union in Saskatoon voiced sentiments of horrified postal workers.

“They don’t want to be subjected to the public scrutiny by delivering a flyer that obviously is a political flyer made to shock people,” she added. “A lot of them feel as though Canada Post should not be engaging in this type of delivery.”

“We have keys to enter buildings, to put mail into mailboxes, or community mailboxes that other organizations or flyer delivery companies don’t have access to, and [receiving these kinds of flyers] is not a consumer’s choice,” said Sanderson.

Canada Post considers refusal to deliver mail serious misconduct, punishable with a 3-5 day suspension without pay. On Wednesday 4 letter carriers refused to deliver CCBR pamphlets. Their supervisor told them to go home, then changed his mind and said they could work today, Sanderson said.

Why can’t anti-abortion zealots let it go? Canada allowed freedom of choice 27 years ago, do they actually believe Canada willing to turn back time? Do they think abortion is a frivolous decision? Do they consider the fate of marginalized, unwanted children? Have they a clue about the state of Canada’s child welfare system?  Why should postal workers be forced to deliver graphic material to unsuspecting households when the issue is a done deal? What do they hope to gain by standing on soap boxes?

This is Canada. Canadians don’t force other Canadians to deliver graphic election propaganda against their will. CCBR pamphlets cross all boundaries of common sense and decency. Abortion is legal in Canada, and there are much bigger fish to fry.





Ponder John Ware

Following the George Zimmerman verdict my thoughts turned to considerable ponders of the differences between the United States and Canada .Slap you in the face points like gun legislation, healthcare, employment standards or education have been beaten to death. I searched my mind for just the right angle to approach the subject from a different perspective.  The name John Ware kept floating to the surface; not one to discount a gut feeling, John Ware stands as my attempt to clear rather muddy ideological waters.

John Ware was born a slave on the cotton plantations of South Carolina.  A free man after the civil war he made his way to Texas, finding work as a ranch hand. In 1882 he was part of a cattle drive moving 3000 cattle across the border to the North West Cattle Co. Bar U Ranch outside Calgary Alberta. Ware decided to stay in Canada; in 1884 he found work at Quorn Ranch, and put in charge of raising horses destined for the English market. The legend of John Ware was born.

In 1885 Ware took part in a massive cattle round-up from Fort Macleod  to the Montana border. An article in the Macleod Gazette wrote “not only one of the best natured and most obliging fellows in the country, but he is one of the shrewdest cow men, and the man considered pretty lucky who has him to look after his interests. The horse is not running the prairie which John cannot ride”

Hard work and saving every penny allowed Ware to register his own cattle brand; by 1890 he had his own ranch. Two years later he married Mildred Lewis.Their first home was wiped out in the flood of 1902, they resettled with their five children near Brooks, Alberta. In 1905 Mildred died of Pneumonia, the next fall Ware died when thrown from his horse after it tripped in a Badger hole.

Held in Calgary, the funeral of John Ware was the largest in history up to that point. The minister is quoted as saying – “John Ware was a man with beautiful skin. Every human skin is as beautiful as the person who wears it. To know John Ware was to know a gentleman – one of Gods gentlemen”

Ask yourself, in what corner of 1905 America would a black cowboy have received this tribute?


John Ware stamp

John Ware stamp issued by Canada Post in 2012