Toronto Star: PM Harper Mulled Forcing Support for Pro-Abort Motion
By Patrick B. Craine
OTTAWA, Ontario, May 5, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned to force members of the Conservative party to back a pro-abortion motion put forward by Liberals in March, before being convinced by his advisers not to, according to the Toronto Star.
Sources in the Conservative caucus reportedly informed Susan Delacourt of the Star's Ottawa bureau that at a special caucus meeting on the day of the vote, Harper wanted to “avoid the ideological trap,” in Delacourt's words, and quietly back the motion.
Other members of the caucus, however, argued that the motion's derogatory reference to President Bush and his policy against funding abortions overseas justified the party opposing it, on the basis that Parliament shouldn't condemn the policies of a close ally.
“Harper, according to caucus sources, allowed himself to be persuaded,” Delacourt writes. “When he closed the caucus meeting, he cited some Mahatma Gandhi wisdom about a leader needing to heed his followers, and agreed the Conservatives, against his initial instincts, should oppose the motion.”
“What Harper didn’t know at the time was that the Liberals were walking into their own trap,” she added.
Asked for verification of Delacourt's account of events from the Prime Minister's Office, spokesperson Sara MacIntyre told LifeSiteNews, “The issue was discussed at caucus and we don't comment on caucus discussions.”
The motion in question, which called on the government to include “the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options” in their maternal and child health initiative, was backed by all of the opposition parties, but ultimately was opposed by the whole Conservative party.
The defeat of the motion, in a vote of 144-138, came as a shock to observers and politicians, and only happened because 13 Liberal MPs were absent or abstained and three – Paul Szabo, Dan McTeague, and John McKay –opposed it on principle.
While the motion, proposed by Liberal MP Bob Rae, omitted the word 'abortion', it clearly included abortion as part of its “full range” of options by the fact that it condemned former U.S. President George W. Bush's Mexico City Policy, which forbade U.S. funding of abortion or abortion-promotion overseas.
“The Canadian government should refrain from advancing the failed right-wing ideologies previously imposed by the George W. Bush administration in the United States which made humanitarian assistance conditional upon a ‘global gag rule’ that required all non-governmental organizations receiving federal funding to refrain from promoting medically sound family planning,” it read in part.
Within days of Harper's January announcement that Canada would champion maternal and child health at this June's G8 summit, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and members of his caucus politicized the issue by demanding the government fund abortion in the plan, which eventually culminated in the March 23rd vote.
Stephen Harper has often been accused of having a hidden pro-life agenda that he is preparing to unleash upon winning a majority government. Now the Liberal Party and media commentators, including Delacourt, have used the government's refusal to include abortion in the G8 initiative as evidence of Harper's pro-life agenda or of his “hard right on abortion.”
But, despite the government's refusal to include abortion in the G8 plan, pro-life leaders insist that Harper himself is pro-abortion, based on his record and his continued insistence to silence his party on the issue.
During his successful 2006 election campaign, the future Prime Minister stated: "The Conservative government won't be initiating or supporting abortion legislation, and I'll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn't come to a vote."
In the 2008 campaign, Harper reiterated, “This government will not open, will not permit anyone to open the abortion debate. Our position is clear.”
Just last month, the prime minister held to his word, as his office denounced Rod Bruinooge's private members bill to protect women from coercive abortions - a bill that Bruinooge has emphasized would not restrict abortion in any way, but merely helps protect women who choose to bear their unborn children. Harper's office even refused to state whether the Prime Minister would allow a free vote on the bill.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Harper Spokesman Won’t Say if PM Will Allow Free Vote on Coercive Abortion Bill
Harper Would Have to Personally Kill an Unborn Baby to Avoid the Hidden Agenda Charge
Canadian Prime Minister Big Improvement Over Liberal PMs But Clearly Not Pro-Life
Conservative Leader Harper Vows to Shut Down Abortion Debate in Canada's Parliament