OTTAWA, March 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The New Democrats’ House leader Nathan Cullen gave an excellent speech today in the Commons defending the free speech rights of MPs, seemingly turning his party into unlikely defenders of ‘muzzled’ pro-lifers in the Conservative caucus.


But it’s amazing he pulled it off with a straight face given his own party’s record on freedom of conscience, religion, and expression.

Cullen was offering the NDP’s take on a question of privilege raised on Tuesday by B.C. Tory MP Mark Warawa.

Warawa says the Conservatives barred him from making a statement last week in favour of his motion to condemn sex-selective abortion. Warawa said he had a slot lined up but it was removed by the party fifteen minutes beforehand on the grounds that the topic was “not approved.” He has asked House Speaker Andrew Scheer to rule on whether his rights as an MP were violated.

Cullen, in his speech Thursday morning, emphasized his party’s disagreement with Warawa on abortion, but emphasized the importance of a member’s right to speak freely.

“Without the right for Members of Parliament to express themselves freely, our democratic institutions simply cannot function properly,” he explained. “The NDP recognizes this and has always allowed its members the opportunity to express themselves, arriving at consensus through discussion instead of imposing one single, unilateral vision.”

That would sound noble if it weren’t so patently hypocritical.

Consider the fact that the NDP have attacked the Conservatives repeatedly for not whipping members into line on the abortion issue. On April 26th, 2012, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair questioned Harper in the Commons on Stephen Woodworth’s private members motion: “Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians why he allowed his Conservative MPs to reopen the debate on abortion?”


The NDP may welcome open “discussion” from their caucus as Cullen says, but if they do it’s only because they’ve imposed a “unilateral vision” on those they allow to run for the party. As it stands now, the New Democrats would never have an MP wanting to make a social conservative statement because they have simply shut out social conservatives.

In the 2011 federal election, the NDP told Campaign Life Coalition that they demand a pro-abortion position from all candidates. “All New Democrat candidates agree to adhere to these principles when they agree to accept the nomination from their riding association,” said the statement.

I asked Cullen this morning via e-mail and Twitter whether the NDP would allow a pro-life speech by one of their own MPs, supposing there were one interested in doing so. I'm still waiting for a response.

But the NDP’s hypocrisy here extends further when we consider that they would not only whip Members of Parliament into line on social conservative issues, but private citizens.

It’s one thing for an MP to be denied the right to speak by a party he’s voluntarily joined, as the Conservatives have done here with Warawa. It’s a whole other issue for private citizens to be denied the right to engage fully in the public square.

In February, Mulcair called for the evangelical organization Crossroads Communications Inc. to be denied foreign aid funding because they uphold Christian sexual values on homosexuality. The grant, he said, “goes against Canadian values, it goes against Canadian law.”

In 2011, the party passed a resolution calling on the federal government to revoke the charitable status of groups that support those seeking to overcome same-sex attraction. The issue is not public funding – the groups receive none. Instead, it’s about the right of private citizens to give their own money to work they believe in. In the NDP’s view, we can get all the tax breaks we want for funding Egale but not Exodus International.

I agree fully with Cullen’s commitment to free speech in the House, am grateful that he’s emerged as an unlikely defender of pro-life MPs, and hope the Speaker is guided by his intervention.

But I hope equally that he actually means what he says and his party starts to practice what he’s preaching.

Patrick Craine is the Canadian Bureau Chief for LifeSiteNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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