There is an interesting race going on in the Liberal riding of Kingston and the Islands. The current member of parliament, Peter Miliken, has decided to step down. Unsurprisingly - we're not in North Korea after all - there's a bunch of candidates gearing up to become the next official Liberal party candidate for parliament.
Five people - sadly all guys - are on the ticket. It's been all a quite Canadian affair - as in polite, not to say sedate - so far. That is until one of the candidates, Ted Hsu (a Princeton trained physicist) decided to go on the attack. Hsu is an interesting chap. I went to the first all-candidates event the Liberals organised. Being a bioethics professor, I worked for the last year or so fairly intensely on a Royal Society report on end-of-life decision-making in Canada. I asked Hsu where he stands on the matter of decriminalising assisted dying in some form or shape. Anywhere between 60-75% of Canadians (more than 80% in Quebec) support such a policy change. To my surprise Hsu prevaricated and went on to say that he would have to be very very certain that that would have to be a good idea. That his electorate overwhelmingly supports such a policy change was of little consequence to him. The language of 'very very certain', of course, makes no sense. Either you're certain or you're not. There is no such a thing as 'very very certain'. I became suspicious that Hsu might actually be a closeted pro-lifer. I disagree but respect folks holding such views. However, I am skeptical as to whether the Liberal party is really their natural home. Hsu put his foot in his mouth during the event on some other issues. For instance, he praised Cuba's health care system and suggested that we'd learn from it, while he busily suggested the outsourcing of government services. Doesn't really gel, or does it?
Well, Hsu's public stance on the pro-life issue doesn't exactly gel either. During the second all-candidates' event, when pressed, he acknowledged to be a pro-lifer. Some of my feminist colleagues have suggested that pro-life is a euphemism hiding what really amounts to an anti-choice and anti-freedom ideology. Good on Hsu for being honest on this sensitive issue though. Obviously the question then remains how that hangs together with his professed liberalism. Well, in a youtube attack video going after one of his competitors, Bill Flanagan, Hsu comes out both as pro-life and pro-choice. - Think having your cake and eating it... - He explains that he supports women's legal right to choose, and that he would not curtail the use of Canadian tax monies to support developing world health services that support abortions. Of course, being pro-life - by definition - means to subscribe to the view that abortion is akin to murder. You know, your baseline as a pro-lifer is the idea that fetal cell accumulations should be treated as if they were persons (as Catholics want us to see it). So, here we have a professed pro-lifer who subscribes to the view that tax monies should be used to support what pro-lifers considers akin to murder.
Mr Hsu, this stance of yours doesn't gel. It's comparable to saying that you're against nuclear power, that's it's a bit like a crime against humanity (pro-life ideologues are wont to comparing abortion to the Holocaust, mass murder, genocide and other such niceties), but that you won't switch off any existing legally operating power plant. I wonder how you would deal, if you ever got elected, with proposed legislation designed to decriminalise assisted dying? Your very very certain is clearly just a cover for saying 'never'. I for one am not looking forward to any conscience vote you might be able to cast should you ever get elected, Mr Hsu. I'm glad to note that at least you wouldn't touch existing legal reproductive rights of women, even though you subscribe to ideological views that consider those exercising such rights as murderers. I have got to say, this is about as plausible as celebrating Cuba's health system and wanting to outsource government services.
What's next Mr Hsu?