Jan. 20, 2012
For Immediate Release
GHIZ REVERSES STANCE ON UPHOLDING RIGHTS OF ISLANDERS
Charlottetown — Premier Robert Ghiz has abandoned his earlier commitment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in his decision to adhere to the status quo with respect to abortion services on Prince Edward Island.
In May of 2006, Ghiz presented a motion before the provincial legislature moving to “respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of all Islanders.” As then-leader of the Opposition, Ghiz submitted the motion in response to the Binns government’s attempts to amend the Human Rights Act to include clauses ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. Entitled “Respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the motion urged the government to adhere to the Charter. In contrast, in his current role as Premier, Ghiz has reversed that position, placing adherence to the status quo above respect for the constitution: in December of 2011, Ghiz indicated abortions would not be performed on PEI so long as he remains Premier. As restrictions around access to abortion were ruled a violation of section 7 of the Charter in 1988, Ghiz’s recent statements represent an alarming about-face in his professed commitment to the rights of Islanders.
Kandace Hagen, spokesperson for PRRO, believes this reversal reveals the Premier’s highly selective approach to Islanders’ rights and freedoms, and reflects a lack of commitment to the rights of Island women in particular.
“It’s disappointing that a leader who has defended the rights of Islanders in the past has chosen to turn his back on them in this case,” says Hagen.
“This is obviously an instance of putting politics above principles, and meanwhile the health of Island women is being compromised as a result.” Hagen adds, “We’re hopeful that reminding the Premier of his past commitment to the Charter might result in some further movement on the issue of abortion access in PEI.”