Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost made headlines this week by loudly criticizing his own Conservative government for funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) (Star Phoenix, CBC). He's upset that the government is spending $6 million dollars over three years to support IPPF.
Let's put this in perspective. For one, regardless of what your feelings are on the act of abortion, Planned Parenthood is a counselling and family planning service - not an abortion factory. They educate people about safe sex, work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and educate women (and men) on pregnancy and babies. And yes, they fund abortions - but as a safe alternative to so-called "back-alley" abortions that desperate people can and will seek out without a safe alternative. Read more about what IPPF does here. This is not an organization that is unworthy of funding.
Brad is upset about $6 million over three years - or just $2 million per year. On a government scale, the value of $2M/year is nothing, which means Brad is openly challenging the abortion issue and only that issue.
Trost and the Conservatives are pretty good with putting token tax rebates and deductions in the pockets of Canadians, but Brad takes a lot of positions that would negatively affect many of his constituents:
- Supporting the omnibus crime bill that would build more prisons for Canadians, despite the fact crime is down (I sent a letter to his office with my concerns and it was ignored);
- Supporting mandatory minimum sentences for (arguably) harmless acts like possession of small amounts of drugs. Let's say that 30% of Canadians have tried smoking pot (that's about 10 million people - source). Now let's say 1% of that group still smokes regularly. Are we prepared to imprison 100,000 Canadian stoners? Portugal legalized all drugs and offered rehab instead of prison, and they're doing great.
- Blindly supporting copyright laws and agreements that would have harsh repercussions on constituents (I've also written to him on this issue and my concern was dismissed). I don't think fining consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars for downloading mp3s and movies is working in the USA - why import that legislation to Canada?
- Running a petition to defund the CBC. Really, Brad?! CBC is awesome. Like BBC and the UK, Canada should be proud to fund quality news and entertainment programming.
There's a great column in the Leader-Post from this Friday that sums up Brad Trost nicely:
"Let's set aside the quaint, old notion that MPs should be representing the interests of the constituents who voted for them rather the interests of their party or the [Prime Minister's Office...] What he's doing [...] is representing only that small minority of his constituents who share his religious beliefs and care whether IPPF is funded or not. This is appalling."I'm not a huge fan of the Conservatives in general, but Brad Trost is an especially terrible and dangerous Conservative - one who is willing to push is own agenda in the House of Commons, and one who is apparently willing to bring in a lot of extreme right-wing, American-style opinions into Canada. In interviews, he justifies all his actions by claiming that he is Saskatoon-Humboldt's "democratic voice" and that he represents his constituents, but in my experience he ignores the voices of his constituents when their views are different from his own.
Blarg. I don't even know a good way to end this post; it's frustrating when your MP doesn't represent you and is closed off to feedback. I suppose that, no matter what your opinion on anything, it's difficult to deal with people who cannot and will not change their mind, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
To express my frustration I've sent a donation to the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (Canada's member of the IPPF) because I know any feedback I send to Brad Trost will fall on deaf ears, just as it has in the past.