By the time this Saturday sermon of mine is available for applause or boos, Frank Coleman may have already made a rare public appearance and answered more questions about his ultra-conservative views on the legal and democratic rights of Newfoundland women to have access to an abortion
In the meantime: hey, Frank, welcome to the fish bowl!
I don’t know Frank Coleman — who among the great unwashed really does? — but it’s hard to imagine he’s a dummy, a cement head. He must, after all, have more than a few neurons of intelligence to have become one of a small number of Newfoundlanders to make it into the category of the maggoty rich. So it’s impossible to believe he didn’t stop long enough during his inner debate about political aspirations to realize his personal views (on abortion, for immediate example) might conflict with the laws of the province, and that he would have an obligation to share with the public those opinions that would have remained private had he not ventured into the political arena.
Or perhaps he’s a big fan of the Peter Sellers’ character, Chance the Gardener, from the brilliant satirical movie, “Being There,” a simple-minded soul who manages to travel the corridors of power and influence in the U.S. by doing nothing more than uttering inanities that are mistaken for profundity.
Chance is never asked for an explanation, never asked for elaboration; he’s just naively thought of as being pretty damn smart.
Coleman, not Chance, hasn’t been required to explain very much of anything thus far, and has been allowed to bask in the unelected glory provided by his unofficial mentor, the god of the Tories, St. Daniel of Town, who removed the one and only other legitimate combatant from the battle for the PC throne. (Thus, the cry throughout the land: “Billy Barry, we hardly knew ye.”)
And judging by the way Coleman handled the fallout from the CBC video of his wife marching in last week’s anti-abortion rally in Corner Brook (kudos to the reporter who had the guts to confront Coleman’s wife with camera rolling during the rally), and the subsequent confirmation that the premier-in-waiting has participated in identical demonstrations with his family in the past, Coleman has an awful lot to learn about handling controversy.
The premier-in-the-wings issued a brief, shockingly inadequate explanation of his views on abortion (most such “prepared” statements are, as any half-arsed public relations flack could have explained to Coleman, invariably useless and even counter-productive, giving rise to more questions than they answer).
In any case, Coleman did attempt to say in that “statement” that he would not let his personal views affect the laws of Newfoundland; subsequently there were radio interviews in which he dodged and weaved throughout, sounding very unsure of himself and painfully awkward (reminded me of a premier with the initials K.D.)
Let’s get one thing straight: Frank Coleman’s constituents — and they will be his constituents soon — have every right to demand and expect a discourse on his philosophy of life, how he ticks, how he’s oiled, to help determine for themselves whether they’re comfortable with his entire makeup, and not just the way he might balance the Newfoundland budget. After all, he is asking to play a prominent and influential role in the lives of Newfoundlanders.
Why shouldn’t we have an opportunity to get to know him, warts and all?
There will certainly be no shortage of issues he’ll have to address in the next few months (perhaps years), but for now it’s the contentious and highly sensitive matter of abortion that’s first up on his docket.
And Coleman should not be allowed to get away with merely declaring that he has no interest in curtailing funding for abortions in Newfoundland or limiting the access Newfoundland women have to abortions.
Is he, for instance, going to discontinue his participation in the Right to Life Easter march, an event that condemns as sinners anyone who believes a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion?
And most of those marchers, at least most I’ve heard or read about over the years, these philosophical allies of Coleman on the subject of abortion, equate support of pro-choice to support of “killers” and “murderers,” those who take the “life” of the “unborn.”
Coleman can play the semantic game forever and a day, but he certainly can’t deny that a movement of which he is a proud and active member views pro-choice advocates — women and men — as morally bankrupt, as sinners, as dirt, as the scum of the earth.
You can just imagine what the anti-abortion campaigners, including Coleman and his wife, think of the Newfoundland women who’ve exercised their legal right to actually have an abortion. These same women whom Coleman wishes to represent have robbed the unborn of life, according to the followers of a cause in which he believes.
That should not be forgotten on election day.
Again, welcome to the fish bowl, Frank.
Can’t wait to hear whether your staunch Catholic belief system includes the church’s view that homosexuality is an abomination; a sin.
How about gay marriages?
Making any headway with the backstroke in the fish bowl, Frank?
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.