PM Harper pledges to vote against pro-life motion, says ‘unfortunate’ it was deemed votable
OTTAWA, Ontario, April 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Parliament prepared to debate an historic pro-life motion Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to vote against it when it comes up for a vote in June or September.
The Prime Minister went further by telling Parliament during Question Period on Thursday that it was “unfortunate” that the motion, put forward by Tory MP Stephen Woodworth, was even deemed votable.
The comments came as newly-minted Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair of the New Democrats charged that Harper was allowing the private members motion to go forward as an attempt to signal his pro-life support to the Tories’ social conservative base.
“We know the Prime Minister likes to control his message. He wouldn’t let his Conservative do something that he didn’t agree with,” Mulcair said in Question Period. “Can the Prime Minister tell Canadians why he allowed his Conservative MPs to reopen the debate on abortion?”
In reply, the Prime Minister stated: ”Every private member can table bills and motions in this House. Party leaders don’t have any control over that. … This particular motion was deemed votable by an all-party committee of the House. I think that’s unfortunate. In my case I will be voting against the motion.”
Woodworth’s motion is scheduled for an hour of debate on Thursday around 5:15 p.m. The Kitchener Centre MP hopes to establish a special committee to consider when human life begins by re-examining section 223 of the Criminal Code, which states that a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb.
His effort has been strongly opposed by all of the major political parties, but none are saying that they will whip their caucus to vote against it.
“We’re not going to have to impose anything because our caucus is unanimous on this,” Mulcair told reporters. “We are unanimously opposed to that motion and that approach.”
The Liberal caucus has a number of pro-life MPs who are expected to support the motion. Liberal leader Bob Rae, who is vehemently pro-abortion himself, says he will allow caucus members to vote “their conscience.”
“If there are individuals in my caucus who feel strongly for moral reasons one way or the other, we’re not going to whip the vote,” he told the Toronto Star.
When Woodworth announced the motion at a press conference in February, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson sent a statement around to media stressing the government’s disapproval. “The Prime Minister has been very clear [that] our government will not reopen this debate,” said Nicholson.
The Conservatives took the same approach in 2010 when Winnipeg Tory MP Rod Bruinooge put forward a bill to ban the coercion of women into abortion. When the bill was defeated 97-178 on December 15th, 2010, Prime Minister Harper took what was considered an unusual step by actually showing up to vote against it.
Despite the stances of Canada’s political leaders, polls have consistently shown that Canadians oppose the current status quo on abortion, where the deadly procedure is legal and tax-funded up until the moment of birth.
An Environics poll in October found that 72 percent of Canadians want some form of protection for children in the womb, with 28% saying they want protections from the moment of conception.