Contract negotiations are looming for the Canadian Auto Workers, but that hasn’t stopped some union members of a Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ontario from wading into the abortion debate, something settled long ago and unlikely to ever be re-opened in Canada.
The mess began when an obscure parliamentarian from the ruling Conservative Party suggested that the legal definition of “human being” in Canada’s Criminal Code should be changed to include fetuses. CAW President Ken Lewenza then wrote a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposing the measure and re-affirming the union’s pro-choice stance.
“Less than a year into a majority government, we see the debate being cracked open by a member of the Conservative caucus,” Lewenza wrote. “Nothing has been as offensive as the suggestion that government may infringe on women’s rights over their own bodies and freedom of choice.”
The Prime Minister himself has declared that the abortion debate won’t be re-opened. But that hasn’t stopped the CAW from holding pro-choice rallies, as a means of countering pro-life protesters who have been picketing in Windsor. While there is a contingent of CAW members who are pro-life, most seem to be concerned about union issues rather than social issues.
Lewenza justified the political stance by stating
“We are involved in the political, economic and social fabric of this country,” Lewenza said. “We have an absolute responsibility to speak up on social issues. We’re stepping up to the plate on issues that affect Canadians.”
Of the rank and file members interviewed by the CBC, it seems that most have other, more pressing concerns – like the work contracts set to expire very shortly.