Further clarifying Justin Trudeau’s position on abortion votes

Lawrence MacAulay thought he could vote as he wished. He can’t.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Veteran Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay recently told the Guardian in Charlottetown that he would be able to vote his conscience on future abortion-related votes in the House. But it turns out he can’t. But it turns out he’s all right with that.

Back in May, Justin Trudeau explained that Liberal MPs would, in future, be expected to follow a strident pro-choice position when voting in the House of Commons. At the same time, he said that “the existing MPs who have been grandfathered in to a certain extent will be respected to a certain extent in their choices, but our position as a party is we do not reopen that debate.”

Speaking to the Guardian, MacAulay similarly used the word “grandfathered” to describe his situation: ”

He’s indicated that I can vote whatever way I choose. I’m, I guess, what you call grandfathered.”

I confess I thought that was the situation myself. But the Guardian reported that Trudeau’s office was of a different opinion—apparently MacAulay would be expected to vote with the party.

After the Guardian‘s story started circulating this morning, MacAulay sent out a statement to clarify that he would be voting with the party.

I’d like to clarify my comments to the Guardian from the other day. I am personally pro-life, and have long held these beliefs; however, I accept and understand the party position regarding a woman’s right to choose.

Despite my personal beliefs, I understand that I will have to vote the party position should this issue ever come up in the House of Commons.

After the Liberal caucus meeting, Trudeau then explained as follows.

The grandfathering in was around the nomination process. We brought in a new, more robust nomination process for the, you know, over 300 ridings in which we have no Liberal incumbents. The existing incumbent MPs were green-lit originally through a different process that we respect. But the policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for women’s rights to choose.

In May, Trudeau was asked specifically about whether John McKay, another anti-abortion MP, would be allowed to vote freely or be told to skip the vote. Trudeau responded that, “We will see what happens … and you will see what happens when that issue comes up.” But it seems clear now that the intention is not for McKay or MacAulay or any other Liberal MP to have a free vote. Here is the explanation from this evening from Trudeau’s office.

Grandfathering applies to nominations out of respect for the former process but Mr. Trudeau brought in a new process for new candidates moving forward. Grandfathering does not apply to votes in the House of Commons, where Canadians deserve to know that Liberal MPs will stand up for women’s rights.

That does not seem to leave much room for abstaining. (Though a full discussion here would have to get into what, if anything, would happen to an MP who did abstain.) MacAulay and Kevin Lamoureux are now on record as saying they will vote with the party and Sean Casey has previously shown a willingness to defer to his constituents on abortion. Liberal MP John McKay declined further comment today when the Canadian Press asked, but he previously said he was not sure how he’d vote.

Beyond the practical issues of Trudeau’s caucus management, we previously considered the philosophical questions of conscience votes here and here.


Further clarifying Justin Trudeau’s position on abortion votes

  1. The liberals thought the were anointing a leader, the little despot has become a “puppet master” ordering the few remaining liberal puppets how to vote and they are not permitted to think any other way that their master dictates. This guy makes Harper look good and that took some doing.

    • Yes. Of course. Not allowing free votes on every issue makes you a dictator.

      You do know that makes Harper the Supreme Dictator, right?

      • Okay but we KNEW Harper was a dictator…supreme or not…Justin Trudeau claimed he was the opposite of Harper. Now we find out he is ‘Harper lite’? Why is this even in he news. There is no threat of an abortion law in the foreseeable future in Canada yet JT is using the excuse of one to handpick Liberal candidates (when he said he would let members pick their own) and to define what makes a good Liberal member? Is he going to branch out into prostitution next and decide that those ‘women’ have the right to choice when many of us know most prostitutes are girls and for them, there is no choice.

        • Well, it’s in the news because the media are keeping it there. They ask about it every chance they get.

          In any event, it is clear that Trudeau believes a woman’s autonomy over her own body is her right, and not one that is subject to political debate and the conscience of individual MPs. Kind of like how we don’t debate removing the vote from women either.

          This is a refreshing and welcome position. Declaring that votes on fundamental freedoms will be whipped is, in fact, the opposite of being a dictator.

          • That is well and good if and when a woman has autonomy over her own body. In some cases women don’t and are forced to abort and to prostitute themselves. As for the press approaching Justin Trudeau on this issue….that wouldn’t be happening if: Trudeau hadn’t brought it up in the first place and if he had been clear about what he intended in the second. “Clarifying” what a grandfather clause really meant to him makes this non-issue the issue that never goes away.

          • Can you cite some examples of these forced abortions in Canada?


    • Old timer…

      You don’t really think Justin Trudeau is coming up with these ideas on his own, do you? Everything Justin Trudeau says has been the work of someone else. The guy is a substitute – part time, drama teacher…..you don’t actually think the folks handling him let him think on his own intentionally.

      Look at what he says when he speaks “on the fly”…..he’s an air-head. (though, a pretty one the women like)

  2. While I think Trudeau is an intellectual lightweight, the fact remains he is the leader of the Liberal Party.

    If any Liberal members have trouble with the bubble-heads decree…they can resign. It is not like they don’t have an option.

    If you don’t like the rules of the club…..don’t join, or quit.

  3. The petit Dauphin ALWAYS Clarifying…………

  4. The Petit Dauphin ALWAYS Clarifying….

  5. That’s cute how when Justin Trudeau tells an outright lie, most of the media describe it as “clarifying”. Trudeau just doesn’t have a bloody clue what he’s doing.

  6. Trudeau is, of course, topping the polls….so you might as well quit snarking guys

    • Emily,

      Being popular may be important for a celebrity, but when you want to be the PM, competency is what matters. Granted, I do suspect that Trudeau will be PM one day, but even his supporters understand that Trudeau is not qualified, but at least he isn’t harper.

      • Trudeau is far more qualified than Harper ever was

        • Fine, emily…you think Justin is more qualified to be PM….alrighty then,

          Please spell out his competencies for being the leader of Canada’s country and economy. What would make trudeau qualified to be PM?

          And no….nice hair, white teeth, and famous father don’t count. Tell us of Trudeaus skills.

  7. I have recently read a quote as to what his father Pierre said about abortion. It is not what sonny boy has to say.

    • Did you expect it would be? Do you follow everything YOUR father ever said?

      • Emily,

        As always….you miss the point.

        I’ll give you a hint. If Pierre Trudeau was alive today….and decided to run for office…he couldn’t run for the Liberal Party as his views on abortion don’t mesh with his son’s view on abortion.

        Interesting isn’t it?

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