David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Canadians are Too Smug

Brandon Sun, October 22, 2018 – David McConkey

We Canadians sure were entranced by the recent U.S. Supreme Court spectacle, eh? And while we watched, I think many Canadians were feeling rather smug. We don’t have those kinds of problems, do we? And even if we do, we deal with them discreetly and politely, don’t we? I say to my fellow citizens: don’t be so smug!

Americans were asking questions about the credibility of sexual assault survivor Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Other issues exposed were why sexual assault victims might wait years to report, the role of heavy drinking, and fairness for accused men. The over-riding issue, though, was about changing abortion legislation through a pro-life nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

When it comes to abortion, most women would never require one, and many women would never choose to have one. But the right to have an abortion is critical for all women. The right to abortion is like a keystone anchoring other rights. Those rights include the right to security from assault and abuse; the right to be heard when reporting assault or abuse; and the right to health-care services like counselling and birth control. And, for their peace of mind, women must know that – if necessary – abortion is there as an option. All these rights are about empowering women.

More empowerment of women could even be a way to bridge the pro-life and pro-choice gap. The more power women have – like saying no to unwanted sex and having access to birth control – the fewer abortions there will be. I urge the pro-life and pro-choice sides to bridge their gap and support mutual, laudable goals.

Abortion in Manitoba is supposedly a medicare-covered right, but it is a shameful open secret that women’s access to abortion is limited. Access is more difficult for those women who are not well-off, well-connected or a Winnipeg resident. A lack of ready information, support and access adds stress to a difficult time in a woman’s life when time itself is of the essence.

But we Canadians don’t want to talk about abortion, do we? About the only time the topic makes the news is when a Conservative leader like Stephen Harper or Andrew Scheer tries to stop their pro-life MPs from discussing abortion at all.

OK, so pro-life folks are reluctant to mention abortion in public. I think I can understand that. But I find it odd that pro-choice advocates stay quiet, when there is a great need to speak up. What about speaking up for better abortion access for Manitoban women who live in rural and northern areas, who are poor and who are marginalized? This pro-choice reticence lets down the most vulnerable women in our society.  

Perhaps more than in any other province, we in Manitoba have failed to support women. Especially the disadvantaged women who are abused, assaulted, missing, murdered, and whose lives are so dysfunctional their children must be taken away by the government. Manitoba’s women need the services that can empower them. Like protection from sexual assault, counselling, and health care including birth control and access to abortion.

Watching the recent American political drama and related news coverage was a learning experience for me and I imagine for many others. For one thing: the atmosphere in the high school that Brett Kavanaugh attended was revealed to be sexist, verging on misogynistic. There also was a lot of heavy drinking, which sometimes led to problematic sexual situations. Remember: this is an exclusive, private high school for the wealthy elite.

We were reminded that there is more sexual abuse and assault everywhere than many of us want to acknowledge. And whenever there is unplanned, unwise or coerced sex; there is almost always the drinking of too much alcohol.

We also were reminded how an incident of sexual assault can damage a woman’s sense of herself, leading to a life of quiet desperation. And although many of us find it hard to believe, sexual assault often goes unreported.

Americans sure are brash and loud, aren’t they? But they are not afraid to come right out and talk about their problems. Often we Canadians pretend we don’t have those problems. Aren’t we quiet and polite? But we should not be so smug.

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See also: 

The Most Politically Incorrect Issue of All?

Political Correctness and the Manitoba Election

More Emphasis on Domestic Violence Prevention is Crucial

Remember Lesson of History on International Women's Day

Moral Truth, Moral Progress and Moral Relativity

Sometimes PMs, Presidents Can Make All The Difference



David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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Extraordinary Canadians:
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The Greatest Show on Earth:
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