When the No2Trudeau campaign came to Halifax, I agreed to help them with the phone calls. This means dialing up Toronto phone numbers, asking people if they are willing to answer some questions related to the upcoming federal election. Then, depending on whether they identify as pro-choice or pro-life, I ask a few more questions and the call is complete.
I have made calls like this before and I know what to expect. Lots of hang-ups. But now people simply don't answer their phones. They probably have, like I do, a call identifier message, so that they know who is calling and they can choose to ignore the call and let it go to the answering machine if they wish.
So the majority of my calls do just that, they connect to an answering machine.
The calls that do meet with a real person are few, 15% to be exact.
But what surprised me was the level of ignorance that I uncovered. The first question asked is "are you for or against legal abortion in Canada?" If they answer that they are against, I then ask if they wish to receive information on pro-life candidates who might be running in their ridings. So far, I have had no success in getting a single email address. Those who identify as pro-life usually just want to get off the phone and they say they aren't interested in anything political.
However, those who identify as pro-choice are then asked if they will answer a few more questions. The first question is "are you aware that abortion is legal through all nine months in Canada?" Not a single person knew that, in fact they stated that it could not be true. Second question is "are you aware that abortion is paid for by your tax dollars?" Here, some knew this to be the case, but others didn't. I would say the split was 50/50. Next question: "are you aware that sex-selective abortion (aborting a fetus because it is female) is legal in Canada?" No one could believe this and were shocked to know this was so. Then two questions regarding Justin Trudeau: "are you aware that JT supports all the existing status-quo on abortion?" and "do you know that JT will whip his party members to vote pro-choice on all legislation?"
And the final question: "knowing all these facts, do you think this will make you change your vote this fall?" Despite being informed of the abortion position in Canada, no one said they would not vote Liberal. Well actually one young fellow said that he wasn't going to vote for JT anyway. I burst out laughing, something that I am not supposed to do, but I couldn't help it.
So this has been an interesting exercise. I am going to ask if I can phone some more people, as I would like to have another demographic to compare with the results I obtained. One thing is crystal clear: people don't know the extent to which abortion is legal in Canada, and worse than that, they don't care.
The apathy was what shocked me most. People don't know anything about abortion and they don't want to know. And they certainly won't vote in any way that reflects any thought on this issue.
This is scary. I have long thought that something is just not right in a democracy: when every person gets a vote, even if they know nothing, and Charles Krauthammer only gets one vote too.
Perhaps we should have some kind of knowledge test before people vote. If they don't know anything about current affairs, perhaps they shouldn't vote. We take it as a right, but our future is being decided by those who are wilfully ignorant.
The other question of course is how do we inform people? If the mainstream media will not air any programs about abortion, if the newspapers will not print anything about abortion, if radio stations won't have any discussion about abortion, how the heck do we inform people of the real state of affairs?