Abolish abortion tops CBC wish list

By 
  • July 5, 2007
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The wish to abolish abortion in Canada topped the CBC’s Great Canadian Wish List on Facebook with 9,543 votes.
But many pro-life voters, looking forward to promised Canada Day coverage of the winning wish on the CBC’s all news network Newsworld, were disappointed.

“I was looking throughout the day,” said John Pacheco, a Catholic and Ottawa-based director of Social Conservatives United. He tuned into Newsworld every 15 minutes on July 1 to catch the newscast. “If it was some kind of progressive cause like the environment, or tuition fees, they would have been all over it.”

Pacheco discovered the CBC did air a report by Toronto CBC television reporter Mike Wise at 7:35 a.m. Eastern time. Though not accessible from the CBC web site, someone uploaded the report to You Tube. Pacheco provides a link at his blog http://socon-or-bust.blogpost.com.

{sidebar id=2}“Who watches Newsworld at 7:30 in the morning on a holiday?” said Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) executive director Joanne McGarry in a telephone interview from Toronto July 4.

McGarry had sent out alerts to CCRL members urging them to join Facebook, a site originally designed to help university students network and stay in touch, and vote for the abolish abortion wish. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition also sent out an alert and urged members to also support a wish to keep euthanasia illegal in Canada. The rules allowed people to support as many wishes as they wanted. Also in the top 10: a wish “for a spiritual revival in our nation” and a wish to “restore the traditional definition of marriage.”

“The contest was an excellent idea,” McGarry said. “The vote in favour of life is a significant one.”

“It’s a solid victory because whether the CBC wants to admit it or not, they had to cover it,” said Pacheco. “It shakes up their assumption about where so-called Canadian values are.”

Wilfred Laurier University student Dave Gilbert’s wish to abolish abortion in Canada came in number one.

“It shows Canadians and politicians we do want to talk about this and it’s not a closed issue,” Gilbert told Wise in his Canada Day CBC news report.

Kristen Van Houten posted the second place wish “that Canada would remain pro-choice,” which garnered 8,008 votes. “I would hate to think that anyone would think the youth of Canada were only pro-life,” she said in Wise’s report.

Gilbert’s wish floated to the top soon after he posted it and remained there until June 21 when the pro-choice list forged ahead by 700 votes in an afternoon.

As numbers for both wishes soared, though, it became evident both sides were cheating by stacking the vote.

“We, me... the CBC, has gotten a lot of flack over this project,” wrote Wise June 22 on a CBC.ca wish blog on how the wish list had been “hijacked.”

“On one side, we have people who slam us for bias,” he wrote. “On the other, we have people who say we shouldn’t provide a forum for people to shout out against abortion and same-sex marriage. So maybe this project is just a big flop?”

Facebook corrected the glitch that allowed the sides to pile up the votes, and the votes dropped to their real levels, revealing Gilbert’s abolish abortion wish was genuinely in the lead, where it remained until the finish line on Canada Day.

Many who voted for the wish hoped for the kind of coverage the CBC gave to its “greatest Canadian” contest or its recent search for the “seven wonders of Canada,” something CBC vowed to do. On its Facebook site, the CBC told people to tune in July 1 to “CBC Newsworld — Hourly newscasts The World this Weekend — CBC Radio Mike Wise looks at the top wishes, and looks at the issues raised, and the significance behind the Wish List initiative.” Pacheco believes the CBC did the bare minimum, though he describes Wise’s report as “fair.”

Other wishes in the top 10 included: lowering or eliminating tuition fees; drastic steps to save the environment; keeping gay marriage legal; NDP Leader Jack Layton’s wish that no one should have to choose between paying rent or for medication; and for proportional representation.

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