Listen Up! Sam Oosterhoff should keep his mouth shut



Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Government: Stay out of our personal business

Sam Oosterhoff should keep his mouth shut, at least until he grows up a little. Oosterhoff is a Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario Provincial Legislature. He was elected as a Conservative in the Riding of Niagara West. At 21 he is the youngest member of that august body. The other day he said this: “We pledge to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.” I suspect and hope, that someone in his Party will have a quiet chat with him.

Now, I know that young people elected in their early twenties often come aboard full of you-know-what and vinegar. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I’ve subsequently been embarrassed by it. I also remember three young councillors from here, who in their giddier moments, plotted to have a former mayor criminally charged, when the incident could have been privately and effectively resolved in the upstairs of the Fire Hall which at that time, was directly behind the Town offices and Council Chambers. I know one of them personally, and I am sure that he now regrets the particular action he took at that earlier time.

But how ever you look at it now, what Sam Oosterhoff said about abortions is plain stupid. Stupid because it will never become unthinkable and second because it is really none of his business. It was Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who said, there’s no place for the State in the bedrooms of the Nation. That is one of the few times when he and I were in agreement! The significance of that statement has broadened somewhat in more recent times, but it still applies today.

One should not jump to the conclusion when reading this, that from a personal perspective, I am pro-choice, because that would not be entirely accurate. While I strongly believe that both women and men have the right to control their own bodies, I believe that a pregnant woman, except under extraordinary circumstances, has plenty of time to decide if she wants to keep a fetus, before it becomes viable. My belief, which I know is not shared by many, and which I know will be controversial, is that a fetus becomes a person when it is able to survive, even with medical help, outside of its mother’s body. I cannot morally accept that an abortion at that point is appropriate and I cannot help but believe that a woman, at that point, is not making a decision about her own body, but rather, about someone else’s.

But that is just my opinion and if you believe in the fundamental right of free speech, I am entitled to it. I do not need Justin Trudeau or Andrew Scheer, or for that matter, Sam Oosterhoff, telling me how I should think or worse still, legislating how I should think. We all have a right to our opinions and I respect those who have opinions that are different than mine. However, I do not expect to be told, especially by government, what my opinion must be.

In fact, my purpose in writing this article is to suggest that so-called social issues are primarily personal and family issues that should have little or no place on a government agenda, either at election time or through subsequent legislation. Much of it is just simply none of their business. I am not talking about the obvious need for Government to protect the vulnerable, especially the abuse of women by men, still prevalent and even encouraged in some societies. I am talking about Government allowing women and men to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives, without undue interference from politicians. We simply don’t need them messing around in personal and social issues, on one side or the other, and usually for crass political reasons.

My fear, especially after hearing snippets from Justin Trudeau on one side and now from the likes of Sam Oosterhoff on the other, is that social issues are going to play a significant role in this current federal-election cycle. Canadians can and should make most of those decisions for themselves. What we really need to hear about is how those who want to govern us are going to deal with serious practical issues, such as climate change, unsustainable spending and debt levels, economic growth, international respect and the serious erosion of our national infrastructure.

I cannot think of a period in my lifetime, where Canada was more fractured on issues and realities that could literally break up the country. Surely governments and politicians should concentrate on these and stop meddling in people’s lives, where it is not necessary and often totally inappropriate.

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  1. Patricia Wood on

    I think maybe the novel 1984 and Lord of the Flies should be put back on the mandatory reading list in school to show what anarchy is Lessons I learnt in school which in turn taught me to respect rights and individualists in our society

  2. We’ll see wants to use the politics of division.
    I agree that we all have the right to live our lives as we see fit.

    The difficulty with abortion and the point of viability is that in Canada at least it hasn’t been defined and so things go round and round.
    But I do agree this should not be in the top 20 issues during this election.
    Ford needs to have a chat with Oostrerhoff before he becomes a problem.

    • Charles Wilson on

      It’s not so much that the “point of viability hasn’t been defined” as the pro-life folks don’t care for the definition under the Criminal Code which reads under s.223 (1) “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not (a) it has breathed (b) it has an independent circulation; (c) the navel string is severed.” To make it even clearer the Code goes on to state “(2) a person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.”
      So if, for example, you shoot a mother just before she give birth, while in labour, and the mother dies you commit one act of culpable homicide. If the child dies in utero you commit no act of culpable homicide on the child.
      If the child is delivered by caesarean section after the mother is dead and the child is born alive but then dies as a result of complications arising from the premature birth then can the shooter be charged with two deaths? Not on that set of facts alone.
      Clearly our respected writer thinks the shooter should, in this hypothetical case, have been charged with culpable homicide for the death of the mother and also for the child unless it could be shown the child died from medical intervention rather than the shooting which necessitated the surgical intervention.
      This section of the code was enacted because it was becoming, as medical science told us more about procreation, more and more difficult to dissent from the opinion of the Church of Rome that even preventing conception was a mortal sin.
      Now in Alabama this entire pro-life/pro-choice dilemma has got itself back in the courts and will likely end up overturning Roe vs. Wade in which US Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision in 1973, affirms the legality of a woman’s right to have an abortion under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of that country.
      In Canada we don’t think Legislator Oosterhoff’s personal views or the personal views of newspaper editors should determine the balance between the life choices of the mother and the life choices of the child but rather we say it is a matter between the mother and her doctor. This “father knows best” view was acceptable so long as the autonomy of the doctor was clear and the advice he gave the mother was ethically independent and sound.
      Today, as has been demonstrated in the august pages of this newspaper, the most important thing about your doctor is not what’s in his or her head or mind but in his or her rolodex. GP’s have become mere conduits to specialists and specialists have become part of the machination of Big Medicine run by hospital administrators whose ethics are dictated by tightening budgets and not much else. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
      I have managed to write this entire note without stating the obvious: Man’s attempts to control his own destiny will indeed go on for ever and so will the debate on when a fetus is a person and when death is lawful and when it is either illegal or outside of the law.
      Those who think humans are innately untrustworthy and need laws to guide everything we do will advocate for stronger more definitive legislation, aka the Nanny State, and those who think free will and conventional morality is enough get on with will continue to yearn for the decisions made in the Laskin and Burger courts in the 1970s when, following the Wolfenden Report in the UK and Canada’s newly hatched Justice Minister Trudeau, the state did indeed stay out of our bedrooms.

      • Rob Millman on

        Is it actually true that termination of a pregnancy is a decision that rests solely between a woman and her doctor? This denigrates the father to the position of “sperm donor”, and his partner could abort a child without his knowledge; even if he was financially and emotionally capable of fatherhood. Don’t get me wrong: I believe 100% in the woman’s autonomy over her body. But I can’t understand how a relationship could proceed with such an enormous sectret between the partners.
        I was also interested in your comments about the possible overturning of Roe vs. Wade; words that I never thought to hear in my lifetime. Isn’t it ironic that two misogynists, Thomas and Kavanaugh, will be participating in this vote? The former should never have been confirmed (witness Biden’s apology to Anita Hill); and the latter, although not as virulent, is no respecter of women or their rights.

        • Charles Wilson on

          That was the point I was making, that if it ever was a medical decision made between a woman and her physician it no longer is.

          As to the Dad, your comment presumes there is a relationship between the male and the female and it wasn’t just sexual intercourse, consentual or otherwise. In your example, where there is a loving and supportive father and a mother using abortion as a form of birth control simpliciter, another issue arises which takes us way out of the ambit of the original writer’s comment that Oosterhoof is wet behind quite a lot of his young organs.

          Alabama’s legislation, set to go before the state senate today, would ban all abortions at any stage of pregnancy, going further than any other state. It is meant to be a direct challenge to Roe v Wade.

          Watch the Conservatives when they get back in in Ottawa amend the Criminal Code s. 233. Scheer’s barefoot in the kitchen approach to family planning will carry the day.

    • wendy j brown on

      Ok if women don’t get to choose what happens in there bodies then I propose men should have to wear chastity devices until they are married, either that or find a drug that will make them sterile until it’s reversed. I know it sounds extreme and over the top but why should men have control of procreation if women don’t?

  3. Joseph VanGrootheest on

    So we need the government to protect the obvious need of the vulnerable, such as a women being abused? I couldn’t agree more. A person who is in a vulnerable position should be protected by the government if they cannot protect themselves. And I see that is exactly what MPP Oosterhoff is stating…. That we need to protect the vulnerable citizens while they cannot protect themselves….such as when they are in the womb. To protect one and not the other is a scary society. Where we can pick and choose who is vulnerable and who is not. Who gets protected and who gets their rights abused. That is not democracy, that is tyranny.

    • Dave Kealey on

      He (Sam) had gotten noticed the week before by evicting a group of seniors from his riding office. Why?, for staging a read-in to protest library service cuts. He should have stopped there instead of wading into the virtual bedrooms of electors!!

  4. Karen Wehrstein on

    He’s confident because he’s looking south. The state of Georgia has just passed a law banning abortion from five or six weeks into gestation (when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant), with no exceptions for rape or incest, and long jail terms or even the death penalty for women who get abortions anyway, including if they go out of state to get it done, and long jail terms for anyone who helps them. See here – . Several other Republican-controlled states are introducing similar laws.
    Their aim is to take legal challenges against these laws to a Supreme Court that now has a right-wing majority, more likely to overturn precedent protecting a woman’s right to abortion. Google “Supreme Court” and “Roe v. Wade”. it could happen, and Canadian right-wingers love to bring rightward American trends up here.
    Note it is all men making these decisions. It’s not actually about saving infants, not in a nation with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world (see here: ). It’s about cutting down women’s freedoms by controlling their reproductive capacity.

  5. We will all ultimately get judged by our choices, actions, sins and character one day. What we believe in ourselves will one day be proved right or wrong. Who are we to say to anyone to shut up about their beliefs? Who says your beliefs, Hugh are correct? Ultimately there is only one judge.

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