Francophone Canada has always been, let’s say, a little “different” compared with the anglo majority, but, as someone of French extraction living in Montreal, I strive for a balanced view of the nation. My morning routine includes an attentive perusal of four newspapers: the National Post, the Globe, and the Quebec papers La Presse and Le Devoir. It is always interesting – and sometimes fascinating – to witness the differing perspectives.
Last week, however, following the Canadian Parliament’s vote on a motion concerning the life of the unborn child, the difference made me ashamed of our leading French papers. The Post‘s editorial, It’s no crime to debate abortion was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the closed minds reflected in the Francophone mainstream media on Motion 312.
Two powerful pro-choice organisations — the Fédération des femmes du Québec(FFQ) and the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances (FQPN) — dictated the French media reports. Like a lackadaisical high school student, the papers limited themselves to regurgitating the two organizations’ joint press release.
This was nowhere more evident than in the relaying of opinions on the federal Status of Women minister, Rona Ambrose, who voted in favour of the motion calling for a committee to examine the definition of when a child becomes a human being:
“It is expected that the Status of Women Minister would take care of women’s interests,” affirms Alexi Conradi, President of the FFQ. “By voting for the committee to study the status of the foetus in the Canadian code of criminal law, [Rona Ambrose] has denied this responsibility because this motion has no other interest than to open the debate on abortion once again.”
“To choose to pursue a pregnancy or not is a woman’s fundamental right. By endorsing a project leading to give a juridical status to the fœtus in the criminal code, the Minister testifies her incapacity to assume her role.” says Sophie de Cordes, coordinator of FQPN.
“We don’t trust Ms. Ambrose anymore. By refusing to defend the fundamental right of women, she has no more legitimacy. Therefore, she has to resign from her functions.”
No more legitimacy? Resign from her functions? I have no problem with them offering their opinions, but what I do have a problem with – to the point of finding it disturbing – is the thoughtlessness with which these sentences were repeated in countless articles and op-eds.