By on June 29, 2012

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.

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39 Comments on “Canadian Auto Plant Caught Up In Abortion Debate...”


  • avatar
    el scotto

    CAW members are having pro/anti abortion protests. What does this have to do about cars?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    For fun, does Ken Lewenza stick his dick into a meat grinder?

    How about sticking to business which is to protect the members’ jobs, wages and working conditions?

    • 0 avatar
      CanuckGreg

      This is Canada. Big unions stick their dicks in everything. Look at the last provincial election in Ontario: big labour (teachers and other civil servants) spent many, many millions to ensure their preferred boot-licker stayed in power.

  • avatar
    areader

    If the unions want to get anywhere in the US bible belt they might think about pushing for a prayer break several times a day.

  • avatar

    I think women should have a choice what to do with their bodies and their pregnancies.

    A girl I know was being two timed by a guy playing her while dating some other girl. He has no money, no real job and most importantly, no car!!!

    Now she calls me up crying to me she’s 3 months pregnant. First thing I suggest is: go find out how much an abortion is. She tells me she decided to keep it. I’m fine with that – her choice.

    If I was a woman, I’d move to Shanghai before I’d let this DISGUSTINGLY CORRUPT government tell me what I could do and couldn’t do with my body. I’ve lived in China a total of 2.5 years. Over there, abortions for unplanned pregnancies is a way of life. My landlord had multiple kids, but, the PRC forces him to pay a $10,000US tax per kid.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Over there, abortions mandated by the state for all pregnancies after the first are the order of the day.
      Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that any Western government that wants to debate this issue is worse than a regime that forcibly sterilizes or performs abortions on women against their will?

      • 0 avatar

        That whole “against their will” comment is nonsense. They have no choice because if they don’t control their population, they will go into famine. If those women want to leave, they are free to do so. china doesn’t force you to stay.

        I see no difference between forcing a woman to have an abortion and forcing her to carry it till delivery if her health is threatened.

      • 0 avatar

        That whole “against their will” comment is nonsense. They have no choice because if they don’t control their population, they will go into famine. If those women want to leave, they are free to do so. china doesn’t force you to stay.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        So, if the United States were to somehow ban all abortions, requiring a woman to carry the baby to term is not really “against her will” because she could simply leave the country to have an abortion?

        Or do words and phrases have different meanings when applied to the United States as opposed to China?

        What ultimately slows down population growth for ALL countries – including China – is industrialization and the rising standard of living it makes possible, not population control measures.

        Farm parents want lots of children to work on the farm as soon as they can and care for them in old age. They aren’t too concerned about their children receiving an education beyond the ability to read, write and do basic math (if that, especially for the girls).

        Urban parents want to send their children to school, which requires money, and have more leisure time for themselves, so they have fewer children. That process is what drives down birth rates and population growth.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        @bigtruck:

        China doesn’t force you to stay?
        A large number of imprisoned political activists (including women who protested the gross violence done to them by the state “for the good of the country”) would beg to differ.
        Just a few weeks ago, another anti-corruption/pro-democracy activist from the Tiananmen era died in prison under mysterious circumstances (the Chinese bloggers refer to him has having been “suicided”). Is this the regime you’re comparing (favourably) against the U.S?

        And for someone who is “pro-choice”, saying that “they have no choice because…” seems a bit contradictory.
        Perhaps you meant to say, “Chinese women should be free to choose, as long as they ‘choose’ ‘voluntary’ abortion and sterilization”

        And seeing no difference between forced abortions and putting common sense restrictions on abortion (a flat-out ban wouldn’t happen – and is a favourite strawman argument for the pro-abortion crowd) only serves to highlight the flaws in your vision.

        Believe it or not, there are still some parts of the world where children are viewed as a gift, not a burden.

      • 0 avatar

        #1 Until you people actually LIVE IN CHINA AS A CITIZEN, there is no point in me arguing with you because I already know you don’t know what you’re talking about besides what you’ve heard on Fox news.

        I remember what it was like to be naiive about Asia – having believed everything the “news” in America told me and whatever I saw in Hollywood – namely: Red Corner. But, actually living in China and Japan opened my eyes to what they were really like and how America’s media manipulates people into hating outsiders.

        #2 “What ultimately slows down population growth for ALL countries – including China – is industrialization and the rising standard of living it makes possible, not population control measures.”

        You are telling me this as if I don’t know it. China’s problem is that it has exponential growth in a landmass that isn’t entirely capable of supporting that level of growth. A SOCIALIST state can’t support that level of growth (which they have) and whatyou are left with is a population of SLAVES. That’s why all the work they do is on the cheap and the reason their military can be so large.

        #3 And for someone who is “pro-choice”, saying that “they have no choice because…” seems a bit contradictory.
        Perhaps you meant to say, “Chinese women should be free to choose, as long as they ‘choose’ ‘voluntary’ abortion and sterilization”

        I mean to say: chinese women aren’t forced to stay in China. Furthermore, that one child policy only applies to the big cities. The impoverished farmers and the Chinese still living in caves (the ones you see when they have a mudslide) have no government limits placed on them. The farmers are allowed to have as many children as they can support – but THEY THEMSELVES choose to abort female fetuses because they need MALE HANDS.

        But hey, don’t take my word for it… GO LIVE THERE for a couple years.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        China is not experiencing “expotential” population growth.

        Here are the annual population growth rates for China since 1970, in 20-year increments, along with a projection to the year 2030:

        1970-1990: 1.7 percent
        1990-2010: 0.08
        2010-2030: 0.02 (projected)

        China is projected to hit zero population growth in 18 years.

        bigtruckseries: I mean to say: chinese women aren’t forced to stay in China.

        Except that this still implies that your solution to avoid coerced abortions in China is to leave the country entirely. That is hardly a pro-choice position.

        You were ready to suggest that women leave this country just because access to legal abortion is considered a proper subject for public discussion, and this somehow made American uniquely oppressive.

        But it’s okay for China to require a woman to have an abortion because, she can always leave behind family, friends, work, etc. for an entirely different country.

        bigtruckseries: Furthermore, that one child policy only applies to the big cities.

        This is incorrect. The application of the policy to rural women was considered imperative to the program’s success. Urban couples were already limiting the number of children that they have in response to the trends I mentioned. Rural women were not. It was more difficult to administer in rural areas for this reason (less buy-in by the population, along with transportation difficulties), and there were limited exceptions for certain ethnic groups, but the program still applied to rural families.

        bigtruckseries: The farmers are allowed to have as many children as they can support – but THEY THEMSELVES choose to abort female fetuses because they need MALE HANDS

        No, they aborted them because, under the one-child policy, if they could only have one child, they wanted a male. In China, elderly parents depend on their SON’S family for support in old age. Daughters, after marriage, are expected to help support the husband’s family.

        That is particularly true in the rural areas. That is why people wanted their one child to be a male.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      So it’s better to live in a country that has a history of forcing women to abort any children after their first one, and now levies a hefty tax per each child?

      I doubt that many people who have actually studied this issue would share your views. Nor do these policies sound very “pro choice” as most people understand the term.

      I think you will find that most American feminists reject those policies, too.

      Prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion regulation was left to the STATES. This had been the pattern since the 1800s. In early 1973, when the Roe decision was issued, 20 states had legalized abortion. The idea that Roe v. Wade “legalized” abortion is a myth. What the decision did is take the question away from the states and turned it into a federal issue by declaring it a constitutional right.

      If, for some reason, the Supreme Court were to issue a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, whether to legalize abortion would once again be a state decision.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Thank you geeber for that comment. If I may get on my soapbox for a moment… It drives me mad how stupid and clueless so many Americans are about their own government and laws. Seriously most of the biggest “Pro-choice” people I know think overturning Roe v. Wade would mean that abortion would be “illegal” overnight. Sure, Alabama and Utah probably would make it so but it’ll be a dark day in hell before a place like California would make abortion illegal.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      “I’ve lived in China a total of 2.5 years. Over there, abortions for unplanned pregnancies is a way of life.”

      Hell’s yeah. I love killing babies, especially if they’re females. China is the best. Although I am not sure why I woke up in this tub full of ice and a scar where my kidney used to be.

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      I try to stay out of such social issues and mind my own business, but I will NEVER recommend to a young woman to get an abortion, let alone so casually as you describe. Pretty disgusting.

      Arn’t you also the ‘car reviewer’ who REFUSES test a car unless it comes with a navigation system? Just sayin…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Freedom of choice doesn’t extend to women in the womb, nor unborn men.
    Keep on rationalizing it as a life style choice instead of what it really is, someday you will get it.

  • avatar

    Why pick a fight over something that’s already been settled?
    That bill by a backbencher MP has zero chance of passing, and Harper to his credit made it clear this debate will not be opened.
    Abortion laws are a non starter in Canada and any restrictions on it is a vote killer.
    And thank god for that.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      How is it settled? There is no abortion law in Canada at all.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      This I see as a bigger sign of the immaturity of Canadian voters.
      The funny thing is, the majority of Canadians polled DO want some level of protection for the unborn (i.e. the idea of absolutely unfettered abortion is not acceptable to the majority of Canadians).

      However, our level of political debate and maturity is so low that anytime anybody tries to start a discussion on this serious subject, they are labelled (or libeled if you prefer) as reactionary, bigots, anti-woman fundamentalists.

      Our police are quicker to arrest and jail 63-yr old abortion protestors than gangsters or violent protestors/anarchists.

      I’m not even an extremist on the issue – I do think that abortion should be an available option in some circumstances, but certainly not for use as a method of contraception for convenience.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        the funnier thing is the majority of Cnadians do not know there is no abortion law. Most of our friends(university educated)assume that abortions are not allowed after the first trimester.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Your supreme court has already decided that abortion is a fundamental right. A decision of the voters cannot curtail a fundamental right.

        It would be akin to having a debate on whether women can vote or whether whites can own black slaves — a right can’t be voted out of existence, regardless of how popular the elimination of that right might be. Elected officials can pass new statutes, but short of some sort of constitutional convention, they can’t pass bills that can eliminate constitutional rights.

        The US considers viability to be a valid component for legislating abortion. But Canada doesn’t.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I don’t intend to reopen anything but pro abortion types need to see the national geographic movie “in the womb”. There is an easy way to avoid unplanned pregnancy, don’t screw if you aren’t willing to carry. I know that flies in the face of modern accepted practice but it’s still the only safe way.

    I know this is going to open a fecal blizzard so just so you know. I am unchecking the followup block below. Anyone venting is not venting to me.

    Btw, I am not necessarily in favor of changing the law. I just vote for personal responsibility. I also agree, it has no place in an auto union contract or a car blog. If you want an abortion, pay for it yourself.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Pregnancy is not a disease women get by chance, a child isn’t guilty of anything and shouldn’t be capitally punished.
    Our esteemed president would be a statistic if his mother listened to some people.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    On the surface, this sounds as if it may be an effort to build popular support for the CAW by explicitly associating the union movement with liberal politics. Conservatives on both sides of the border have a rabid hatred of unions, so I suppose that it makes sense for the unions to find whatever political friends they can get.

    I don’t know much about Canadian law, but I thought that abortion is essentially a settled question, since it seems to be next to impossible to have an abortion law that wouldn’t violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Is there any realistic possibility that abortion could possibly outlawed or curtailed in Canada, given the constitutional issues?

  • avatar
    Mazda323

    I could be wrong, but it seems like this article is a car blog weighing in on how ridiculous it is for an entity to be weighing in on something that has nothing to do with it.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    Several unions were out yesterday in this protest, not just the CAW.

    A couple of the public-sector employee unions were picketing the RC church in my Toronto neighbourhood.

    I reckon that with the collapse of our more progressive parties, the unions figure THEY have to stand up to the Taliba– er, ruling Conservatives.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    In my opinion, if you don’t have a uterus, you don’t get a vote on this issue, period.

    Though if I was King of the world, you would need to get a license to have a child. You have to have one to drive afterall, and raising a child is one Hell of a lot more important and consequential than driving.

    And remember, the Earth does not have any resource problems, rather it has a human over-population problem.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      It’s always amusing to hear citizens in the developed nations whine about how overpopulation is depleting the world’s resources, given that we collectively consume a disproportionately large amount, despite representing a small (and declining) portion of the human population.

      Maybe less is more after all – but it’s easier to tell the developing nations to abort their young than it is to give up our comforts, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The CAW is wrong to inject itself into this. Taking a political stand on an issue that is divisive is a sure way to lose business.

    Just like Sajeev doesn’t want a sign-of-the-fish symbol on his truck, an Impala or Charger driver doesn’t want to know that, by buying that car, he’s helping to fund the CAW’s abortion-rights lobbying.

    The plaudits gained from supporters are always dwarfed by the business lost by those who disagree with the position in all but the most narrow or monopolistic industry. People remember the negatives. The CAW is on the ropes, as is organized private-sector labor everywhere. Don’t go out of the way to piss more people off.

    I don’t know if the guy who puts the back seat in the Ford Fusion is a supporter of the PRI, and I’m sure Ford would prefer I think about the leg room instead.

    Edit: The short version: How did this improve the working conditions of the Canadian auto worker? It had no positive effect.

  • avatar
    dash riprock

    PCH101, The supreme court actually requested that parliament take on the issue and create a law. To date, parties on all sides have ran away from it. While outlawing abortions is not really practical, women in need would go the illegal route or even across the border, having no restrictions is probaly not the way most canadians would wish it.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “having no restrictions is probaly not the way most canadians would wish it.”

      Given the court’s decision in Morgentaler, it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to restrict abortion based upon criteria that aren’t the choosing of the woman. Rights are not subject to a popularity contest. A viability test in Canada would be unconstitutional.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    When I saw this article posted, my first thought was “Flame War beginning in 3,2,1….” My congratulations to TTAC commenters on being relatively courteous/sane.

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      > My congratulations to TTAC commenters on being
      > relatively courteous/sane.

      Indeed! No one is picketing in front of TTAC Head Office, so that’s a good sign.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    Red Herring of the week. We have a right wing government and the CAW would prefer the NDP, a party that would be seen in the US as borderline communist. This is simpply political opportunism at the expense of a rather clueless backbencher who has now insured his future as a backbencher forever.

  • avatar
    C P

    I can see why they wadded in. Chrysler & abortion are synonymous.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    China is where the Summer of Love went to after it left San Francisco in 1967. Mellow, peace, love, and socialist utopia. Right ? And Chairman Maobama is bringing it back.


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