It has been a busy week for Maurice Vellacott, Conservative MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin.
First he put a lot of strange words into the mouth of Canada's chief justice, Beverly McLachlin. His misreading of a nuanced speech she had given was so egregious that the Globe and Mail felt compelled to correct him in an editorial:
He claimed Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin had said that when judges take an activist role, "all of a sudden there's some mystical kind of power that comes over them . . . and they take on almost these godlike powers. She said that herself. I didn't say that." In fact, she said nothing of the sort. Mr. Vellacott was just airing his own dismissive attitude toward the courts -- a strange view for the chair of the Commons aboriginal affairs committee to hold, given the role of the courts in determining and upholding aboriginal rights.
In fact, Justice McLachlin's speech had affirmed the opposite of godlike powers -- the power of human reason to work from basic democratic principle to interpret individual cases. The chief justice broke her traditional silence in the face of public criticism to deny that she had ever claimed to be godlike; even the PMO decided it would be politic to announce that Mr Vellacott's views on the workings of the Supreme Court are not those of the government.
Undeterred, on Wednesday, when Mr Vellacott, an ordained minister, resigned as chair of the Commons aboriginal affairs committee under threat of a non-confidence vote, he kept the godlike motif going through scattershot comments wherein the godlike seemed at once very Bad (the Liberals) and very Good (his own revealed views on aboriginal affairs):
Facing defeat as chairman, he attacked the Liberals for, yes, believing they had godlike powers. "They seem to think that they have some divine right to govern, and it is deeply upsetting to them when the public judges otherwise." And, announcing his resignation as chair, he sought divine support for his own future. "I submit to a sovereign God to provide me that opportunity [to serve aboriginal Canadians] at some point in the future."
Now, Mr Vellacott's revealed views on aboriginal affairs have seemed -- oh, how shall we put this? -- other than neutral in the past:
he defended two Saskatoon police officers who were convicted of unlawful confinement. The two officers admitted to driving an aboriginal man outside of town and leaving him to walk home on a -25 winter evening.
But let's not digress. At least Mr Vellacott's replacement as chair of the committee, MP Colin Mayes, is not known for complicated prior views on aborginal affairs. He is known, unfortunately, for complicated prior views on journalists ...
Mr. Mayes made headlines last month when he wrote an opinion column in a local newspaper suggesting reporters should be jailed for writing misleading stories.
"Maybe it is time we hauled off in handcuffs reporters that fabricate stories, or twist information and even falsely accuse citizens," Mr. Mayes wrote.
The B.C. MP later issued an apology after he was contacted by the Prime Minister's Office.
But seriously: let's not digress. Conservative MPs: so many sub-plots. Back to the main plot, the careering career of Mr Vellacott.
Nothing daunted, Mr Vellacott, no doubt still driven by divine revelation, has bounced back from his forced resignation on Wednesday to champion yet another cause -- the liberation of women.
In league with Liberal MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce), Mr Vellacott yesterday organized a press conference to warn women that abortions are bad for their health. The two MPs brought along with them a breast-cancer surgeon and anti-abortion activist from New Jersey, Angela Lanfranchi,
who said there has been a 40-per-cent increase in the incidence of breast cancer in the last 30 years.
"It's the women of the Roe v. Wade generation that account for most of this increase. Dramatic lifestyle changes brought about by the sexual revolution and the women's liberation movement are largely responsible for the rampant breast cancer we see today."
Dr. Lanfranchi, who is also opposed to oral contraceptives and advises women instead to avoid sex on days that they are fertile, described what she calls a biological link between breast cancer and the early termination of a pregnancy.
Now, she doesn't quite seem to be saying that most women who develop breast cancer have had abortions, does she. Maybe because that isn't true? As she must know? There has been a rise in the incidence of breast cancer as of some other cancers, and "lifestyle" -- if that term is interpreted to mean everything from diet to environmental causes -- may indeed be a factor. But how seriously is one to take that vague wave in the direction of an entire generation? Political attitudes cause cancer? A doctor said that?
Well, yes, she did. And she said it knowing, as everyone should, that every learned society of ob-gyns and every cancer society in North America has discounted the only fake "scientific" study that ever attempted to claim a link between abortion and breast cancer.
But then that is what propagandists do. They just bull ahead, in defiance of evidence, facts, or human vulnerability. And why?
Well, in Mr Vellacott's case, it's because he is worried about women:
Mr. Vellacott said he and other like-minded MPs believe women are being kept in the dark about abortions and are being forced into them by the men in their lives.
"We are opposed to unwanted abortions that do happen in this country where women are coerced, pressured, harassed, badgered if you will, by a boyfriend, by a husband, by a doctor, an employer, friends, family circumstance," he said. When asked whether he would put forward a private member's bill banning abortion, Mr. Vellacott replied: "There are always options for members of Parliament to put forward good initiatives on a range of subjects."
Me, I also am opposed to the coercion, pressuring, harassment, or badgering of women (if you will) by just about anyone who seeks to limit their autonomy. That would include MPs and doctors who persist in disseminating information shown to be mistaken or distorted for propaganda purposes -- ie, lies.
Curiously enough, immediately after the press conference Mr Vellacott and Mr Steckle organized for Dr Lanfranchi in Ottawa on Thursday, an anti-abortion rally materialized on Parliament Hill. "Who, us?" said the honourable MPs.
You have to admire Mr Vellacott's resilience, though, don't you? I know that I do. To spring back from so many humiliations as quickly as he did this week and to reinsert his foot in his mouth so purposefully -- that shows promise, I think. I am so looking forward to whatever cause he decides to champion next.
Next week, in fact. Creation science? Surely that's not too much to ask. Send him ideas. The man is on a roll.