Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, July 21, 2014

Firmly Conservative

"It would be lovely to think that we are traditional thinkers here. But unfortunately we often feel like we're outcast and that we are out of touch, and it's not necessarily true."
Elizabeth Crouchman, president, New Brunswick Right to Life
Elizabeth Crouchman of New Brunswick Right to Life: “It would be lovely to think that we are traditional thinkers here. But unfortunately we often feel like we’re outcast”
National Post: Elizabeth Crouchman, president of New Brunswick Right to Life

"You hear the stories of why people come to the clinic and oftentimes we get the sense that there's a feeling of shame. It's really strong and they almost feel like they're bad people for having to come to us. You don't get the same sense of shame in other provinces."
"This anti-choice mentality has been in our government for as long as we can remember. We're almost in a bubble. Any time you try to work with governments, particularly over something that's maybe more gendered or feminist, it's very difficult. In order to get funding, you have to really watch the party line."
Kathleen Pye, chair, Reproductive Justice New Brunswick
"Fundamental religion resonates more in rural areas than it does in urban areas traditionally. Church still matters a great deal in the Maritime provinces. They're closing churches in Ontario and Quebec at quite a clip. We are closing churches here but not nearly at the same speed as the rest of the country."
"On social values, I think Alberta is moving quicker, faster than the Maritime region on such issues as same-sex marriage, abortion and so on. The mayor of Calgary is a lot more open than say the mayor of Doaktown in New Brunswick. You see a lot more new Canadians moving to Alberta. You're seeing urbanization -- Calgary has become a big city. It's a younger population and not aging nearly as quickly. Taboos break down a lot quicker."
"It's not dead [social conservatism] in New Brunswick. Perhaps it's dying, but it's dying a lot slower than the other regions. It's much more pronounced here and it's part and parcel of who we are."
"Politicians that want to win seats around here have to be careful on [criticizing] social conservatism because it still resonates. You see it on the whole public policy agenda that deals with social conservatism. You tread very carefully if you're a politician."
Donald Savoie, professor of Canadian public policy and administration, Universite de Moncton

David Smith/The Canadian Press
David Smith, the Canadian Press, A pro-choice rally in New Brunswick, April 2014

New Brunswick, with a population of 800,000, clings to strong family values, with a small-town conservative attitude, so tradition is important in New Brunswick, as it is in Prince Edward Island, two provinces where abortion services are not readily accessed, despite the prevailing attitude in the rest of Canada that this is a woman's right; to choose whether or not she is prepared to carry a foetus to full term, and raise a child.

In 1989, former premier Frank McKenna and his Liberal government passed Regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act, requiring two doctors to agree that the abortion procedure is deemed to be "medically necessary"; that it must be performed in a hospital by a gynecologist in order to quality for government funding."There hasn't been a premier since, of whatever colour who has dared to even touch it", stated Eldon Hay, a retired United Church minister in Sackville, N.B. who considers abortion availability the "litmus test" of social conservatism in his province.

Reproductive Justice New Brunswick has raised over $100,000 to try to save the Morgentaler Clinic from closing. In operation for over two decades in defiance of the province's "anti-choice mentality", according to the chair of the group, Kathleen Pye. The government of New Brunswic simply will not recognize the right of women to seek abortions in a free-standing clinic, and refuses to fund such clinics. All abortions, if women can succeed in persuading the adjudicating health professionals that such is warranted, must take place in a hospital setting to be government funded.

In May, Premier David Alward, advancing his government's conservative agenda, informed students at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton they would not be permitted to fly the pride flag during Pride Week; to do so did not fit the province's rules for flags 'outside public buildings.'

Reverend Karl Csaszr, senior pastor of Fredericton's Skyline Acres Baptist Church stated his opinion that the Maritimes "have the reputation of holding onto the values of our parents and grandparents longer", and he's certainly right there. While Reverend Hay, a longtime gay rights activist, feels that unlike with the issue of abortion there's a feeling that attitudes toward same-sex marriage are changing.

"Twenty years ago it was very brave of me to say I was in favour of gays. My fellow clergy scorned me. But now, astonishingly, it has turned the other way. It's far more OK to be gay and lesbian, far more appropriate or appreciated or affirmed, than to say ' I'm in favour of abortion'."

Creaking progress on one front of social mores, resistant to the other.

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