Silence rules as Mark Warawa appeals for freedom to debate abortion motion -

Silence rules as Mark Warawa appeals for freedom to debate abortion motion

Maverick MP’s motion is unpopular with the Liberals, the NDP and Conservatives who agree with the PM that abortion is an issue that should not be reopened


OTTAWA – There are few quiet moments in a House of Commons committee, but one pregnant pause spoke volumes about the tensions and discomfort on Parliament Hill.

It came on a day when Conservative MPs were grappling with intersecting and weighty issues of freedom of speech in Parliament and the limits of party control.

Maverick MP Mark Warawa appealed to his colleagues Wednesday to allow his motion condemning sex-selective abortions. They had rejected the motion as unvotable last week, arguing it was too similar to another motion from 2012 that also touched on abortion.

Warawa went through the reasons his private-members’ bid was in order: it did not contravene the Constitution; it was within the jurisdiction of the House; and no other motion like it had come before them.

“(The motion) clearly meets the criteria and should be votable,” Warawa told the procedure and House affairs committee.

“The question before each member today is What kind of Parliament do we want? Canadians want a Parliament that follows the rules. … The future of Parliament and the future of (the motion) is in your hands.”

When it came time for MPs to question Warawa, there was silence in a room packed with reporters and political staffers. Not even Conservative colleagues sought more clarity on his appeal.

Warawa’s motion is unpopular with the Liberals, the NDP and Conservatives who agree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that abortion is an issue that should not be reopened.

In the same stuffy committee room in the bowels of Parliament’s Centre Block, a number of Warawa’s supporters in caucus showed up, including Rob Anders of Alberta and Harold Albrecht of Ontario.

The committee promptly went in camera after Warawa’s statement. Whether the committee will allow Warawa’s motion to proceed will be known publicly on Thursday. MPs on the committee left the room after about 15 minutes of deliberations.

“It’s concerning, what’s happened,” Warawa said of the process.

Warawa’s battle to keep his motion alive comes at the same time as he argues before the Speaker of the House of Commons over his right to talk about what he wants before Parliament.

Just before question period, MPs are able to deliver short statements on subjects of national, international, provincial and local interest.

In recent years, that 15-minute juncture has devolved into a series of partisan snipes — on Wednesday, seven of nine Conservative members’ statements either hailed the federal budget or slammed the opposition.

Warawa says he was recently barred by the Conservative whip from delivering a statement, presumably on the subject of his abortion motion. He call it a breach of his parliamentary privilege.

On this separate but related issue, Warawa also has allies.

“A member should be able to make a statement on any issue they think is important to themselves or their constituencies,” said Tory MP Kyle Seeback.

“Mr. Warawa’s (member’s statement) should not have been taken away. That’s my personal view.”‘

The issue was hashed out during the weekly Conservative caucus meeting, where MPs were allowed to vent their views on the principle of a member’s freedom to speak his or her mind in the Commons.

They were reminded by others of Harper’s commitment to voters not to reopen the abortion debate, and that he had made other commitments to Canadian families.

But at the end of the day, the debate had not left the floor of the Commons.

Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber rose in the Commons to also support the idea of an unbridled right to speak about any subject without having it first vetted by a party whip.

“In a Parliament where the government and the opposition control such a large portion of the parliamentary calendar and agenda, private members’ bills, motions, are the very few mechanisms that members have to bring matters of importance from their constituents forward,” said Rathgeber.

“I would submit that if the House does not jealously protect the rights of the members to bring forward matters of concern to their constituents … the role of the private member, and Parliament and ultimately democracy have all equally been compromised.”

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Silence rules as Mark Warawa appeals for freedom to debate abortion motion

  1. This reminds me of something the Republicans south of the border have been trying. In an attempt to stop what they call “widespread voter fraud,” many states have passed election reforms requiring photo ID for all people intending to vote.

    The problem is that there is no widespread voter fraud. In a five year span during the recent Bush administration when 196 million votes were cast the total cases of voter fraud found was 86. That’s 0.0004% of the total votes cast. By creating a problem and selling it to the public, they were able to carry out their real goal: To prevent low-income voters, who tend to vote Democrat, from voting because they cannot afford the ID required.

    MP Mark Warawa is doing a version of the same thing with this motion. In order for it to stand up to scrutiny by the Supreme Court, the female fetuses would have to be declared a person under the law. In doing so, all fetuses would have to be declared as people under the law, making it murder to perform an abortion.

    This is a blatant, dishonest, manipulative attempt to circumvent the will of the Canadian people, its government and the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Scott Imbeau,


    • Scott… this is a motion not a bill.. it expresses the house’s opinion only. No law would change. … hence nothing to go before the supreme court.

      • Warawa’s ultimate goal is to end abortion. This is his first step in trying to make that happen.

        • So what? It’s not a step with any actual meaning. Let the man speak, let him bring his motion forward, and let the House decide whether or not they want to carry through with it.

          Even if they condemn the practice as the motion asks for, that in no way forces them to carry through with a law. I condemn the practice, for instance, of people who take their small children to adult oriented plays or films — the kids are usually bored and/or noisy, and the adults around them often feel uncomfortable seeing other people’s children exposed to things they wouldn’t want theirs exposed to. But I’d never even consider passing a law prohibiting the practice.

          • the crime is that Canadians have no laws at all protecting the child in the womb, and so all manner of atrocities can be committed against these persons. It is only the most barbaric of communities that permit the destruction of the vulnerable for the slightest whim of personal preference. Whatever the Supreme Court may or may not get themselves involved in, these crimes are being committed in Canada, and we have a moral responsibility to bring these practices to a conclusive end.

          • ?? Uhh.. that’s nice.
            What it has to do with what I said I have no idea. Perhaps you should go have a little lie down and come back when you’ve stopped hyperventilating and can actually read what’s written.

          • No.

          • See. ^^^^^^^

            People with this attitude [RB] see it as a first step to infringing on women’s rights to do what they want with their own bodies by claiming that fetuses are babies and should be persons under the law.

            Warawa has spoken and gotten far more publicity in the media than he deserves.

  2. only callous people would object to a statement condeming a killer practice… likeLiberals and ND including those types on the other side of the House..