Ignatieff talks abortion; will Tories take the bait?
Published on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010 4:16AM EST
Michael Ignatieff chooses his words carefully, never, ever saying, "abortion."
Instead, he speaks of "safe terminations" and warns against "botched procedures" and "women dying in misery."
In cautioning the Harper government against playing "ideological games" with women's reproductive health, as the Liberal Leader did this week, an Ignatieff official said his boss was simply addressing an issue of public policy.
However, if this reignites the abortion debate, provoking social Conservatives in Stephen Harper's caucus to react, so be it, the official said.
As crass as it sounds, there is a potential side benefit for the Liberals in stirring this up.
Harper Conservatives know this. The question this time is: Will they take the bait?
Earlier this week, Mr. Ignatieff, surrounded by female Liberal MPs, held a press scrum, expressing his concerns about the Prime Minister's pledge to make maternal health a priority of this summer's G8 summit in Muskoka.
Noting that former U.S. president George W. Bush banned federal funding to international groups that performed or provided information about abortions, Mr. Ignatieff said: "We don't want us to go that way. We want to make sure that women have access to all the contraceptive methods available to control their fertility."
Women's reproductive rights have proved to be a good issue for the Liberals in the past.
It has also pushed the Harper Conservatives off message. The issue dogged them in the 2004 election campaign, when Mr. Harper said he would not introduce legislation amending the abortion law but that Conservative MPs had a right to their own beliefs, leaving the door open for private member's bills. This also led to concerns among the electorate that Mr. Harper had a hidden agenda.
By the 2008 election campaign, Mr. Harper left no light between his views and that of his caucus, saying he did not intend to reopen the abortion debate and that his cabinet ministers would be instructed not to support any private member's bills that would.
So what are the Ignatieff Liberals up to - a little rattling of the cage?
"Listen, I'm not going to tell you that there was no thought at all given to the fact that some of their people will come out," the Ignatieff official said. "... Are some of them going to be reacting? I have no doubt that they will."
However, he said, that was "certainly not our main goal."
Frank Graves of polling company EKOS Research Associates said putting down markers as Mr. Ignatieff did is "not a bad idea if your political strategy is to try to say, 'Okay, we have different visions of Canada.' "
"Maybe [Mr. Ignatieff] wants to remind Canada that the visions and ideology of the group which is currently running the country is incoherent in some cases with the dominant values and interests of the rest of the country."
For example, he said, the consensus among Canadian women is for total freedom of access to abortion. The latest polls show the Liberals are leading slightly among female voters.
Dimitri Pantazopoulos of Praxicus Public Strategies, who has polled for the Harper Conservatives, said that although the Ignatieff statements were designed to "take the Conservatives off message," he doesn't believe they will work.
And he criticized the Liberals' approach as "largely based on old perceptions of the Prime Minister and the Conservatives, not the new reality."
Ignatieff talks abortion; will Tories take the bait? - The Globe and Mail
12th-March-2011 #2Unregistered Guest
Re: Ignatieff talks abortion; will Tories take the bait?
hi this comment is for everyone including jane tabor ! saturday's "what to expect when the election battle begins" ok so iggy is bitching about harper like a soap opera ! layton's platform is all the problems involving money that he knows he can't fix but everybody can relate to ! harper stands on his past record ! so just on that basis alone i would vote for harper if i was an outsider from another country because he is the only one saying something believable! look at my record you can to that easily! so in my opinion iggy and layton should re-evaluate their campaign to something people can believe scottwarner1965
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