Andrew Lawton

Leona Alleslev is now a Conservative MP. But is she conservative?

My latest in Loonie Politics, which you can pick up a discounted subscription to using the promo code Lawton.

An excerpt:

While I understand the optical victory in Alleslev’s crossing, I haven’t seen anyone ask the most important question: is the newest Conservative MP actually a conservative?

On paper, Alleslev looks as though she belonged in the Conservative party from the start.  She graduated from the Royal Military College, served as an Air Force captain, and worked for the Department of National Defense and in the private aerospace sector.

She’s no doubt qualified to take on her new role as global security critic in Scheer’s shadow cabinet.

Whether she was ever a true believer in the Liberal cause we’ll never know, but she ran for that party in 2015 for a reason.  Her confidence in that party obviously changed, but I’d urge her to speak to whether her fundamental beliefs did as well.

In her departing speech as a Liberal MP, Alleslev said Canada needs “strong federal leadership to rebuild our nation’s foundations, tax reform, employment reform, a comprehensive foreign policy and a modernized military to reassure our allies and defend Canada’s interests at home and abroad.”

I agree with her that Trudeau isn’t delivering that.  But I still wonder whether she objects to the policies Trudeau is championing, or merely to his incompetence in doing so.

Read the full column here.

The dangers of compelled speech

Earlier this summer, the Rights and Freedoms Institute hosted a great forum on compelled speech, sparked by the first anniversary of the passage of Bill C-16, better known as the bill extending legal protections to varying gender identities, and, critics point out, their pronouns.

I wrote about the forum and the broader themes of compelled speech in my column this month for The Interim. You can read the full column here, though an excerpt is below.

This summer marks one year since the implementation of Bill C-16, the legislation that catapulted Professor Jordan Peterson to fame and galvanized a much-needed discussion about freedom of expression in Canada.

Though we have yet to see the first public prosecution under the bill, its free speech implications are still very much alive.

The bill updated the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to add “gender identity or expression” as protected areas when it comes to hate crimes and purported human rights violations falling under federal jurisdiction.

These protections already existed in Ontario’s Human Rights code, which served as the basis for the federal legislation. The Ontario Human Rights Commission is clear that “refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun” is discrimination.

It was rather suspect that federal lawmakers were so vague about what they hoped to accomplish with C-16 when introducing and passing it. The Human Rights Code already protected against discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and religion, among other identifiers. But these areas are far less subjective and, dare I say, fluid, than gender is.

Take a look at your Facebook account if you want an illustration of how absurd this can get. Facebook offers 71 options for gender, ranging from agender to transfeminine and beyond. Even the most well-meaning progressive will fall short trying to keep track of them all, let alone remembering which pronouns are which.

It isn’t just about him and her. Made-up words like zim and xir, which were once confined to university campuses, now have the protection of the law.

Why aren’t liberals fighting against the war on pro-life women?

Because they’re too busy waging it.

The National Campus Life Network last week released a video featuring a monologue by Maggie McAuley, a pro-life activist at the University of Windsor.

In the video, McAuley alleges she was “spat upon” by a professor during one of her pro-life demonstrations on campus. When she complained to police, they threatened to arrest her for her lawful demonstration.

She says one man put a photo of an aborted fetus in her mailbox with the caption, “Your baby after I rape you.”

After being assaulted, threatened with rape, and subjected to much verbal abuse, McAuley went to her school’s women’s centre. Despite being a young woman victimized by men’s violence, there was no support available to her from the supposedly feminist agency on campus.

“Instead of helping me, my women’s centre denied me,” she said. “They told me they wouldn’t help me because it was a pro-choice space. Professors, campus police, the women’s centre, and my student union perpetuated a dehumanizing environment to such a degree that someone felt justified in assaulting me.”

I should probably clarify that the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance doesn’t actually have a “women’s centre.” No, the mandate of helping women on campus falls on the “Womxn’s Centre,” defined on its website as “an actively pro-choice, feminist space.”

Womxn is not the latest anti-biotic to hit the market, but rather a feminist spelling intended to stress that women—erm, womxn—don’t need “men” to exist.

The only way this agency would care about a rape threat against a pro-life woman is if the assailant was dressed as the letter ‘E’.

The center ignored two requests for comment I sent regarding McAuley’s allegations. Unsurprising, because there’s no answer that doesn’t expose the hypocrisy inherent in how many feminists view pro-life women. To blame is intersectionality—the idea that all forms of purported oppression have to be dealt with in tandem.

A woman facing threats and violence from men used to wield a social justice trump card. Now, victimhood is not determined by what happens to a woman, but by what she believes. At the University of Windsor, being pro-life is the new “she was asking for it.” McAuley learned this the hard way by not espousing the ‘correct’ identity politics.

This was apparent on a national scale when the federal Liberal caucus waged procedural war on Lethbridge, Alberta member of parliament Rachael Harder, the Conservatives’ shadow minister for status of women.

Harder is a millennial female in political leadership. That used to be the type of person lionized by the Left, but any celebration is eclipsed by the fact that she thinks abortion is wrong. She isn’t alone, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

A 2016 Ipsos poll found little distinction between men and women in likelihood to be pro-choice or pro-life. Of men, 57 per cent said a woman should be able to choose when and if she has an abortion, while 58 per cent of women took the same stance.

In disagreeing with that, Harder is on-side with more than four in 10 Canadian woman, yet to the Liberals, that disqualifies her from chairing the committee tasked with championing women’s issues in government.

It’s true that female public figures face different kinds of criticism than their male counterparts do. That problem is even more amplified for pro-life women, who are subjected to untold numbers of sexual comments and detailed critiques of their appearance from internet troglodytes. But there’s an added dimension of scorn from the liberals and feminists who present themselves as bastions of enlightenment and social justice.

These voices accuse pro-life women of being traitors to their sex and attack them for not hewing to intersectional feminist theory. They’re too daft to see how hypocritical it is to tell a woman what she’s supposed to think. Is that not the paternalism against which feminists are supposed to be fighting?

This attitude is not exclusive to pro-life women, of course. It’s the same phenomenon that’s led to the denigration of “white feminists”—women accused of having too much privilege to speak to social issues. It’s also at the epicenter of the feud between intersectional feminists and TERFs (or trans-exclusionary radical feminists) on the issue of transgender identity.

Identity politics is so engrained in liberalism that the Left does not accept or even understand the idea of a member of one of its preferred groups going rogue, ideologically.

It reminds of a quip by transgender trailblazer Caitlyn Jenner at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“It was easy to come out as trans,” Jenner said. “It was harder to come out as a Republican.”

It’s easier for the Left to get the idea of a woman having a penis than it is to understand a woman with a penis liking gun rights and lower taxes.

If support for a group is contingent on ideological beliefs, that support is a sham. If those on the Left want any credibility in speaking up about the war on women, they’d do well to address their part in it.

Acadia faculty union signed agreement with university to gag Rick Mehta

A new development in the case of Rick Mehta’s firing casts doubt on whether he can expect much support from his union in the forthcoming arbitration.

Mehta, a former tenured psychology professor at Acadia University, was fired at the end of August after a months-long investigation that invited crowdsourced complaints about Mehta’s conduct inside and outside of the classroom.

Even after the school commissioned two reports, there has been no formal finding of harassment or discrimination against Mehta. This is why Mehta wants the reports made public, which the school will not allow.

Because Mehta was a unionized faculty member, it’s the union’s responsibility to defend him. Though based on a “process agreement” between Mehta, the school, and the Acadia University Faculty Association, it’s clear this isn’t happening.

The document, published for the first time here, is supposed to be an agreement to the process by which Mehta will be disciplined. It was signed on August 1, 30 days before he was terminated.

The agreement says “the specific information contained or referred to in the MacKay Report and the Hooper Report could potentially form the basis of discipline of the Grievor (Mehta).”

It also says the “Parties to this Agreement have agreed to expedite all issues relating to the Grievor in accordance with this Agreement on a without prejudice and precedent basis.”

Except Mehta refused to sign it. And despite him urging his union to do the same, his supposed representative signed it anyway.

Mehta’s union entered into the agreement that ultimately led to his dismissal without his authorization or consent.

“The union’s lawyer spent two hours trying to convince me to sign it—and then the union’s president signed it anyway after I had refused,” Mehta told me in an interview.

Had he signed it, it would have been bound to a clause saying he’s “not permitted to distribute the confidential information related to the complaint…. This includes, but is not limited to, posting information on social media or providing any information to the media generally or any third parties.”

It also would have barred Mehta from even commenting on the case in media reports.

In effect, Mehta’s union has endorsed the same gag order and lack of transparency that the university itself has attempted to impose on him.

Why this is so concerning is that it essentially leaves Mehta without representation, and thus without viable recourse. He complained to Nova Scotia’s labour board under Duty to Fair Representation provisions, but was told this week that unions have the authority to make decisions in spite of the disagreement of the member impacted by the decision.

In the eyes of Nova Scotia’s labour laws, the union is representing Mehta fairly because it is taking the case to arbitration.

In the September 11 phone call from the labour board, he was told his complaint was unlikely to go anywhere because his union is representing him—even if that representation is only on paper.

Full “process” agreement between Acadia University, Rick Mehta, and the Acadia faculty association. If it does not appear below, you can read it here.

“Process Agreement&quo… by on Scribd

Notwithstanding clause a much-needed tool to fight judicial activism

When judges overstep their bounds, elected governments need to fight back. That’s exactly what Premier Doug Ford did by deploying the notwithstanding clause, as I discuss in this week’s Loonie Politics column.

As always, an excerpt is below, but please pick up a subscription (only $40 a year using the promo code ‘Lawton’) to read the full piece and the stellar work of my colleagues.

What started as a deflation of a bloated Toronto city council has now become a weapon against judicial activism.

Premier Doug Ford has thrown down the gauntlet to the courts based on a very simple premise: he was elected to govern Ontario, and they weren’t.

That a bill about one city’s municipal election has ignited a national constitutional conversation is proof that the process by which a law comes to be is often more important than the specific law in question.

As a non-Torontonian, my life wasn’t changed with the passage of Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, last month.

But for the 509 declared candidates and the two or three Toronto voters paying attention to municipal politics in August, the bill was undeniably disruptive.

But there’s a difference between something being a disruption and it being unconstitutional.  That distinction was lost on Judge Edward Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, who ruled on Monday that Ontario government “has clearly crossed a line” with its decision to cut Toronto’s council from 47 wards to 25 just a couple of months before the election.

Hours after the decision, Ford responded with a historic vow to reintroduce the legislation with the notwithstanding clause, which his government did on Wednesday.

It’s a tactic never before employed by an Ontario government.  The lack of precedent notwithstanding (sorry), the clause in question is still a valid tool afforded to premiers, and has been for nearly four decades.

I can’t help but laugh at the left’s accusation that Ford has trampled on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it’s that very charter that contains the notwithstanding clause.  It was specifically carved into the document so provinces could maintain autonomy and protect themselves against overzealous interpretations of Charter freedoms.

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