Everyone is entitled to express their opinion

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When Kitchener-Centre Member of Parliament (MP) Stephen Woodworth gave a speech last week at the University of Waterloo (UW) he was unprepared for the pro-choice protesters that would await him.

Woodworth, who was invited to speak at UW by an on-campus pro-life group 30 minutes into his lecture just before he was bombarded with verbal attacks.
The protesters, who were a mix of community members and students from UW and Wilfrid Laurier University, were objecting to Woodworth’s Motion 312 which seeks to re-evaluate when a life begins.

Naturally, the prospect of a politician with the power to alter a woman’s basic right to choose is an issue that will generate a high level of debate.
Woodworth was forced to cut his speech short as the vocal protesters overtook the lecture. While women’s rights certainly need to be protected, especially in the face of stark conservative political leaders who seek to compromise women’s choices, it should not occur at the disregard for democracy.

The reality is that whether we like it or not, everybody is entitled to their individual opinion. Religious and conservative groups structured around these types of traditional values are not all harmful or threatening. They are equally allowed to express their opinions as liberal-thinking university students.

Can it easily be argued that Woodworth’s views are behind the times? Yes. Did the protestors have every right to express their disagreement? Of course. But dressing up in a vagina costume is not an effective way to demonstrate your solidarity.

Demonstrations like this seek to overshadow the original debate and becomes more about a spectacle than discussing real issues.
Woodworth should not necessarily be defended for his motion. But the fact is that our democratic society gives everyone the opportunity to protest. It also gives everyone the right to express their opinions, and it is very rare that someone deserves to have their opinion completely stifled.

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