A few weeks ago, visiting anti-choice activists stood outside of Island high schools at lunch time with large signs showing fetus parts as a way to ‘educate’ students. Upon hearing that many students were upset at the imagery, some NDP members and other concerned citizens went to several targeted high schools with blankets to help shield the students from the signs. What we learned was that students didn’t necessarily need our help – they were vocal in their opposition to the scare tactics being used and challenged those that threatened their right over body autonomy. We were there to witness and support their courage and strength.
As adults, we have a duty to protect children from trauma; as politicians, we have a duty to uphold and protect human rights.
The right to access an abortion is grounded in Canada’s constitution, where the primary protection is a woman’s right to security of person, freedom of conscience and liberty.
Women have the right to make their own decisions in matters of health. Evidence proves that laws restricting access to abortion care do not stop abortions from occurring and actually put women’s health at risk. Rights can be hollow without extensive social and government support to back them up. Our position is clear and unequivocal. The NDP supports pro-choice.
We also recognize that Canadians have the right to express their opinions without fear of harmful repercussion such as threats of violence, like those made to Becka Viau last week.
Becka received threats in the form of phone calls, emails, and printed notes after she shared an online petition calling for the resignation of interim Liberal Leader Robert Mitchell due to his attendance at an anti-choice rally. The Charlottetown Police are investigating.
Becka was hired as the NDP Campaign Manager for District 12 in the provincial election and is well-known as a compassionate and community-minded person. She and her family are now concerned for their safety and continue to be harassed online. These threats are real and not to be taken lightly and we stand with Becka and her family. This is unacceptable behaviour, for not just Islanders, but anyone. This is a public safety issue. No-one should be sent death threats for speaking out about an issue in this province, or in this country.
Have an opinion, speak your mind, but let’s do so in a civil, neighbourly manner.
Our democracy depends on it.
Joe Byrne, Leader of the NDP PEI
Susan MacVittie, Chair of the NDP Women’s Committee