William Watson: U.S. court rulings are not within Trudeau’s jurisdiction

Canadian politicians have a lot to say about the Roe v. Wade, but ignore their own responsibilities

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On Twitter last Friday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of its Roe v. Wade’s 1973 on abortion “an unacceptable step backwards”.

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“Unacceptable” means “cannot be accepted”. It’s an adjective that people often use for events they don’t like but are going to have to put up with. Someone should tell Mayor Plante that, as cosmopolitan as her city is, being her mayor does not get you a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States, or in the United States Congress, or even in a legislature. American state, where abortion law will now be democratically elected representatives of the people — as it is in this country, as it is in most of the democracies we usually compare ourselves to.

In fact, our own current lack of an abortion law is the result of a tie vote in our UNelected to the Senate in 1991 on a bill that would have replaced the law that our own Supreme Court struck down in 1988, not for violating a clear constitutional right to abortion, but on much narrower grounds. land. In the now backward United States, they have at least figured out how to avoid a tie vote in their Senate, which, unlike ours, is elected.

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Ms. Plante is not a US citizen, or even a dual citizen, so she can’t vote in US elections so, with no leverage except her Twitter account, she’ll have to accept the SCOTUS ruling if she has trouble swallow or not.

Speaking from Rwanda, our Prime Minister had a similar reaction: “We must continue to be strong…what Canada will do, whether fighting for women’s rights here in Africa, or supporting people fighting for their rights in the United States and elsewhere. “Mr. Trudeau is not just a mayor, but a national prime minister. Even so, its ability to fight for the rights of Africans and Americans is limited. How about turning his passion for rights into transgressions against people who are truly within his jurisdiction? The Anglophones of Quebec, let’s say.

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We are side by side with the Ukrainians, the Prime Minister repeats to us. He even went to Ukraine to literally stand with President Zelenskyy. From Africa, he says we are “standing our ground, defending the rights and freedoms of everyone in Canada and…internationally”. (All standing! Anyone got a chair?) But a provincial government in its own country is about to limit the use of one of that country’s two official languages ​​- languages ​​that have official status thanks in large part to his own father — and he’s basically silent, even when the outlawing involves companies whose regulation falls under his own federal jurisdiction.

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(The prime minister’s most publicized statement over the weekend was his tweeting of Vladimir Putin for once riding a horse bare-chested. Fair enough. It was bizarre, though good liberals don’t scoff at customs different from other countries and cultures, but he was a prime minister who launched his own political career by striking the pose of a shirtless muscular man at the weigh-in at a charity boxing match. noting Prime Minister’s bicep tattoo: “Meet Justin Trudeau: Canada’s Boxing, Strip-Teasing New PM.” “)

The reason the Prime Minister is not campaigning on a large scale against Quebec’s Bill 96 is of course that he is popular among French-speaking Quebecers whose votes his minority government does not wish to lose. Like Mayor Plante, he is not running in the United States and therefore risks nothing electorally by speaking out. And the party of the American president is with him on the merits of the SCOTUS decision.

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I wonder if he would be as blunt in his denunciation if a conservative Republican who really liked the decision was in the White House – as he might well be in 2025. I bet his stance would be much more circumspect. One true thing Donald Trump said when he was president (there weren’t many of them) was that Mr. Trudeau had two faces: obsequious in private at the G7 summit in Quebec City, but not standing up to him with challenge than at the press conference after Trump was comfortably aboard Air Force One. It is by such calculations that the limits of political courage are determined.

The Canadian constitution says nothing about abortion. That says a lot about jurisdiction. The democratic virtue of jurisdiction is that it clarifies responsibility. Ms. Plante has no jurisdiction over US abortion law. She has jurisdiction over police, traffic and taxes in her city, which are increasingly dysfunctional. Mr. Trudeau has jurisdiction over airports, passports and the RCMP. No wonder he prefers to talk about American abortion law.

Speaking of jurisdiction, there’s a lot of talk on CBC about preparations for a flood of American women coming to Canada to have abortions (rather than New York, for some reason, which can’t be that the flights are cheaper) . Can someone with jurisdictional responsibility explain how the resulting lineups will be handled, how much longer expected wait times will be for Canadian women as a result, and who will pay for all those abortions?

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Thelma J. Longworth