What's on the horizon for reproductive rights in Canada for 2015? Let's take a look back at 2014, especially at some ongoing initiatives that may prove very fruitful for 2015.
Anti-choice dinosaurs now extinct in Liberal Party
In an act of "sick and twisted" irony, Canada's new prostitution law takes effect on December 6, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and a day now set aside to mourn violence against women. Sadly, the law will lead to violence against sex workers, most of whom are women.
On Thursday, November 6, seven masked sex workers spoke at a press conference in Vancouver to give specifics on how Canada's new prostitution law will harm them. The theme was "What a Difference a Day Makes" -- because on Wednesday they were responsible working adults providing a legal service to ordinary Canadians, and on Thursday the law had transformed them into helpless victims being exploited by violent predators and perverts.
An important day just went by, marked by hundreds of events and campaigns and lots of noise around the world. Some of you may have never heard of it before, but to an abortion rights activist like me, it's practically a statutory holiday.
September 28 is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. The day originated two decades ago in Latin America and the Caribbean where women's groups have been pushing governments to decriminalize abortion and provide safe and affordable access. The date itself commemorates the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1871, and came to be adopted by Brazilian women as the day of the "free womb."
I don't speak French. I wish I could but I can't. Canada is a bilingual country and it was a mandatory course in my high school. I took two years of French in college, and once even hired a tutor for private lessons. Sure, I can still stammer out a few simple sentences in French and understand some of what I read and hear. But Vancouver is a long ways from Quebec. On the west coast, French is rarely heard and, shall we venture to say? -- unnecessary.
The new prostitution bill introduced in June by Injustice Minister Peter MacKay is blatantly unconstitutional and will result in more dead women. Bill C-36 will harm sex workers in even worse ways than the previous criminal provisions that were struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in December.
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Justin Trudeau's statement that any new candidate for the Liberal Party must agree to vote pro-choice on any bills is positive and entirely appropriate. It stirred up a surprising amount of criticism and confusion in the media, however, in addition to the expected histrionics from anti-choice and religious communities.
The government of New Brunswick has embarked upon a perilous political path in recent weeks. It has decided to directly endanger the health and lives of New Brunswick women on the basis of its presumed "pro-life" religious beliefs. The main person behind this decision is, ironically, Health Minister Ted Flemming.