By Jonathon Van Maren
One of the most consistently amusing things about Michael Coren is the fact that he exchanged Catholicism for the title of reverend, scurried across the theological divide to the feticide enthusiasts, and now pretends to be stunned by while also having a deep understanding of the views of those he once grifted. The news that pro-life MPP Sam Oosterhoff, who you may remember from previous media temper tantrums over his appearance at the Toronto March for Life and his existence as a socially conservative politician more generally, is scheduled to speak at a conference hosted by the National Campus Life Network, has got Coren all hot under the collar once again. A different collar, true, but same shtick.
“Comparing abortion to the Holocaust is common in anti-abortion circles; in so doing, it implies that those who support reproductive rights are Nazis,” he tweeted, apparently unaware of a wealth of pro-life material that explains why this is not the case. “Sam Oosterhoff should be ashamed and [Doug Ford] must act!” He followed that up by explaining that this was “Holocaust minimizing,” which is a form of Holocaust denial, and then put down his smartphone, panting heavily. Coren was referring to this story, published by Global News:
Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff‘s judgment is being questioned yet again after affiliating himself with a group that has compared abortion to the Holocaust. Oosterhoff, who serves as Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s parliamentary assistant, is scheduled to speak at an event titled “Gen Z: Challenging Abortion in Politics” on Wednesday.
The event is being organized by student-led university groups including University of Ottawa Students for Life, Carleton Life Network and University of Waterloo Students for Life and is being held in collaboration with the National Campus Life Network, which is an anti-abortion youth group.
“MPP Sam Oosterhoff will be speaking about being a young pro-lifer in politics,” organizers say on Facebook. “Oosterhoff is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and was first elected at the age of 19 in a November 2016 byelection, and is the YOUNGEST Ontario MPP to ever be elected…and he’s a pro-life badass.”
When asked about his involvement with the event, Oosterhoff, through his office, wrote: “I don’t think anyone is surprised to know that I am pro-life. I have always been very clear where I stand when it comes to protecting the right to life.”
When Canadian media commentators assert that someone’s “judgement is being questioned,” they mean that it is being questioned by them, in the column you are currently reading. It’s a handy way of creating a story where none exists. The author of this piece, Travis Dhanraj, can’t really write a lede that reads “pro-life MPP attends yet another pro-life event, a regular practice of his since running as a pro-life candidate and winning his election,” and so instead Dhanraj questions Oosterhoff’s judgement, and then solemnly writes that “Oosterhoff’s judgement is being questioned.” This is a prompt for others to follow suit, as Coren predictably did.
This is also part of the Canadian media’s refusal to admit that there are many Canadians who oppose abortion (and a majority who dislike the current status quo), particularly in immigrant communities. The airtight bubble inhabited by Canada’s commentary class is such that they are hornswoggled whenever they discover that they inhabit a country where not everyone thinks like them—how can this be, when everyone they read and speak with does? Clearly such persons are religious extremists—best get Rev. Coren out to explain all of this in a British accent. Diversity of thought is only our strength when everyone has the same ones.
There has been one pleasant exception. Matt Gurney of the National Post tweeted this:
I sometimes wonder if many pro-choicers (I am myself generally pro-choice) realize why people actually oppose abortion. I don’t oppose it in most circumstances. But I really, really don’t find it that strange that others would and do. Like, if you genuinely believe that babies are being murdered, lots of them, on a steady basis, year after year, what WOULD you compare that to? I think a weird side effect of these moral issues being fought out mainly through political processes is that we sometimes forget that they’re still moral issues, and can’t be categorized neatly alongside other policy or partisan disagreements. You don’t have to buy all the pro-life logic to believe that they’re sincere that they oppose abortion because they consider it the killing of babies.
Gurney is doing something rare here: He’s asking, out loud, why those he disagrees with might think the way that they do. This is the sort of thing good journalists were once known for. These days, they’re just the enforcers of an inch-wide range of debate that a handful of progressives believe is acceptable in the public sphere, while millions of Canadians hold different views. It isn’t news that a pro-life MPP is speaking at a conference to pro-life Canadian students. It is news that he refuses to back down when he’s attacked for it. And it is because Oosterhoff refuses to play the game and offer the groveling disavowal and apology that the media has become accustomed to that he consistently elicits such ire from the commentariat and their political progressive allies.