BC Politics with Hubert Beyer

Archives of British Columbia's most well read Political Columnist




Hubert Beyer, Biography

Hubert Beyer was widely known as one of Canada's most read journalists. His columns were published regularly in most BC Community Newspapers, and his perspective sought on the Federal level as well as by NORAD in the US, Beyer lived up to his reputation as the "Fairest of them All."

Born in a small village in West Germany, Beyer immigrated to Canada in his 20s where he married and had 4 children.

A German Language publication in Winnipeg was Beyer's first foray into writing in Canada, it was soon followed with work at the Winnipeg Free Press as a Reporter covering many different beats. more

Top Search: Forestry

Find out what Beyer had to say about Forestry in BC through the years. With the forestry industry supporting a large segment of employment and opportunity in British Columbia, it's no surprise that it's a top search.

Top Search: Elections

Election are always a hot topicAnytime the faintest hint of a provincial or federal election announcement draws near, the search for quotes and history on past British Columbia elections starts to climb.

Top Search: Budget Release

When is the Budget not a hot searchProvincial Bugets are introduced with fanfare and fraught with talk from pundits, experts and critics. Take a few minutes to see how BC Budgets of the past were often projections of the future. 


VICTORIA -- It's one of life's little ironies that the abortion controversy may achieve what all the opposition leaders, New Democrats, union bosses and "bleeding hearts" haven't been able to do since 1972 -- unseat the Socred government.

The process has already begun. The Vander Zalm government has been on the skids ever since the premier took it upon himself to play Philadelphia lawyer with the landmark Supreme Court ruling that abortion committees are unconstitutional.

What makes the situation somewhat ironic is that abortion is really not a political issue. Stripped of its rhetorical embellishments, every political issue is centred on economics.

The greatest ideological debate of the 20th century, socialism versus capitalism, is a confrontation of economic models, and virtually every major political issue you care to mention can be slotted into this conflict. Every issue, except abortion, that is.

The cost of abortions neither makes nor breaks British Columbia's health services budget. At an estimated $300 per operation, last year's 11,000 abortions cost to total of $3.3 million, a little more than one-tenth of one per cent of the total health budget.

Since most abortions are performed on women in border-line economic circumstances, it can be assumed that the cost to the taxpayers would have been far greater -- in terms of future welfare payments -- had those 11,000 pregnancies not been aborted.

Abortion is a moral issue, and that makes it potentially far more dangerous to governments than any economic issue. It's an issue that blurs the distinction between church and state, a distinction over which wars have been fought.

\It's an issue that turns the clock back, dividing the populace along the lines of medieval Europe. The debate over abortion is tantamount to a rerun of the religious wars, and when it's over, governments will have been severely shaken. Some may bite the dust.

Here in British Columbia, the government is deeply divided over the abortion issue. Seven backbenchers have openly criticized the government for its stand on abortion. Even a cabinet member, Grace McCarthy, has been critical.

If so many Socred MLAs are against the government's policy on abortion, who is for it? Premier Vander Zalm, that's who. The premier is deeply and devoutly opposed to abortion. That's his right. I'm opposed to abortion, too, but that doesn't give me the right to impose my beliefs on every woman. Vander Zalm's first duty is to govern on behalf of all citizens, in accordance with the laws of the day.

Every edict, every statement coming from the premier's office regarding abortion since the Supreme Court ruling has been a dictatorial abuse of power.

What's even more disturbing is that he has somehow managed to silence cabinet. People who should and do know better are lending their passive support to a man who is abusing the democratic process.

Criticizing the premier is difficult for any MLA, but that didn't keep Kim Campbell, Socred MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey from speaking out. She obviously had agonized over her decision to denounce the government policy of not funding any abortions, including abortions for victims of rape and incest and in cases of severely malformed fetuses. She was close to tears when she voiced her opposition publicly.

Faced with growing unrest in the Socred ranks, the premier back-tracked a bit, agreeing to fund abortions for victims of rape and incest. Other than that, the policy stands: the government will only pay for abortions performed in hospitals and if the woman's life is in danger. That means the rich can afford to have an abortion, while the poor can't.

The agony over the abortion issue isn't lessened by the premier's parsimonious attitude when it comes to alternatives. He promised better adoption policies and a public education program. That's not an alternative. That's an insult.

Where is the assurance of financial support for women the premier hopes to force into giving birth to children they can't afford to have? Where is the day-care program that would allow these women to hold jobs? Where are the jobs, for that matter?

If Vander Zalm abhors the very thought of abortions, he should have become a preacher. He could then devote his entire energy to change the world. That's a luxury he doesn't have as premier.

His unbending stand on abortion may make him feel good. It may make him a hero with the pro-life faction, but it doesn't make him a champion of democracy. In the contrary, it makes him an authoritarian, a despot, a tyrant.

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