‘Either you vote with your conscience or you don’t’

by Aaron Wherry

Conservative MP Rick Norlock explains his vote in favour of Motion 312.

“I voted with my conscience,” said the member from Northumberland Quinte West, despite a Conservative campaign promise not to reopen the abortion debate … “I know it was part of our party platform not to reopen the (abortion) debate, but either you vote with your conscience or you don’t,” said Norlock. “I did not want to treat this issue in a political manner.”

… Norlock suggests that in the future, if Canadian voters want that changed, they should have the choice to vote on the issue through a national referendum. “This is an issue that can tear families apart. I go to a lot of public and private functions, it’s an issue that people don’t talk about. It’s a personal issue and should be left up to the individual,” said Norlock.

And Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux explains his vote in favour.

Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) was one of just four Liberal MPs who voted in favour of the motion. He said Wednesday he supports a woman’s right to choose. However, he said that’s not what this motion was about. ”I would never deny anyone the right to have an abortion, but I am entitled to a personal opinion, and if you read what was actually voted on, we were not voting on (a woman’s right to choose),” he said.

Lamoureux initially said he did not believe his office had any communication from constituents about the motion, but he later said there were some calls and emails and that the people were evenly split on the issue.




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‘Either you vote with your conscience or you don’t’

  1. Mr Norlock gets it: this is not something the government should get involved in, abortion is a private matter; no amount of legislation or debate will “solve” the issue (not that it can be solved).
    The only thing that matters in terms of government is that it does not outright ban it. Placing restrictions on abortions is a legitimate topic of discussion but it’s not a very constructive one since it seems people either think that abortions are super awesome or they are a plight on society.
    The truth is that abortions are unfortunate, but making them illegal would be disastrous.

    • Unfortunately, it is not solely a private matter, that is part of the problem. Some people think that all human life is sacred. And we do have laws against murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, assisted suicide, every other form of homicide except abortion, and even animal cruelty. Killing others is generally not considered a private matter by anybody. It doesn’t matter how you do it, or where you do it, killing others is not a private matter.

      • Some people think the earth is flat….that doesn’t mean we need to listen to their nonsense.

        • So you’re saying MPs should vote their conscience.

          • No, they should separate their personal beliefs from their job. He isn’t there to promote his religion.

          • If you’re saying the MP should not listen to his/her constituents’ nonsense, then you’re saying he should ignore them and vote his personal beliefs. Now you’re saying he should not vote his personal beliefs. Make up your mind.

          • I’m not in the least confused…..it’s your reading comprehension.

            The MP is there to represent his riding, that’s his job….not to promote his own beliefs or religion.

            I’ve said the same thing every step of the way.

          • You said, and I quote:”Some people think the earth is flat….that doesn’t mean we need to listen to their nonsense.”

            So you are telling MPs they need not listen to their constituents.

          • Follow along, please

            You said…..
            ‘Some people think that all human life is sacred.’

            I responded…..
            ‘Some people think the earth is flat….that doesn’t mean we need to listen to their nonsense.’

            In other words MPs don’t have to listen to every ignorant cockamamie idea and belief that comes along…..

          • Constituents are people. You say some people think the earth is flat, and therefore MPs do not need to listen to their nonsense.

          • Noop they don’t. Not the flat earth part anyway.

          • Face it—she has no idea what she`s saying !

          • Ignorance and bitterness are no way to go through life Andrew.

          • Your analyst told you that ?

          • Obviously yours should’ve and didn’t.

        • Be fair EmilyOne, most people are deeply stupid and presumably the ‘some people’ to which you refer are included. A Venn diagram would be an ideal method of displaying this information.

      • “……It doesn’t matter how you do it, or where you do it, killing others is not a private matter……”

        Really?
        Your constant wasting of resources, by virtue of living, even frugally, in the frozen wasteland that is Soviet Canuckistan kills many people in the Developing World. That is surely private!

        • “Your constant wasting of resources, by virtue of living, even frugally,
          in the frozen wasteland that is Soviet Canuckistan kills many people in
          the Developing World.”

          That’s crazy talk.

  2. Lamoureux, you were had.

  3. Lamoureux—Don`t rationalize your vote by saying that you really are in favour of abortion ( to keep the liberals on side) and then vote in favour of a motion that would debate whether abortions may involve the elimination of a life from the womb ( to satisfy any pro lifer who may want to vote for you).

    I wish there were a few more Liberals who actually took a principled stand and stuck by it—–yeah, yeah I know—we call them NDP`ers.

    • The NDP votes with the whip on EVERY SINGLE VOTE.

      Amazing how they all have exactly the same principles.

      • indeed…..at the end of the day, I would rather an MP voted the way (s)he chose to vote rather than see the votes whipped.

      • The Cons are notorious for their own caucus discipline, which could only come about through the actions of a strong whip and the threat of reprisal from the PMO.

        I suspect that the reason they (apparently) didn’t whip this vote, as well, is that a) they did, and a significant faction of rogues ignored it or, more likely
        b) the PMO knew it would have a caucus revolt on its hands if it enforced caucus discipline on this one or, quite plausibly
        c) the private member’s bill was used to sow dissension among the caucuses of the opposition parties as well as provide a Trojan Horse to get abortion onto the legislative agenda.

        The NDP may have “exactly the same principles”, but crass opportunism isn’t one of them in this case.

    • Yeah – he’s doing a Rona allright.

  4. MPs that tend to defy the wishes of their constituents tend to be defeated in the next election. However, there are plenty of ridings in Canada (at least the 30% matching the number of MPs who voted for the motion) where a vote for motion 312 would not be defying the wishes of the consituents.

    • “…..MPs that tend to defy the wishes of their constituents tend to be defeated in the next election……”

      Are you new?

    • so we non-conservatives do not figure in our con MP’s consciousness?
      PS I really knew that already.
      Shades of Romney’s 47%

      • Of course non-conservatives figure in their Conservative MPs consciousness, the same way conservatives figure in their Liberal and NDP MPs consciousness.

        This has literally nothing to do with Romney, you’re on the wrong message board.

    • Would that were true. Unfortunately, with our FPTP system and the number of parties we have, you can defy the wishes of over half your constituents and still get elected.

      • Actually, no. Conservative MPs are more “progressive” in ridings that are more “progressive”. NDP MPs are more “conservative” in ridings that are more conservative. This is true across Canada. There is a reason for this. The reason is that they would never be elected otherwise.

        Individual ridings are more homogenous that the country as a whole.

        • The point stands. The tendency of an individual MP in an individual riding is irrelevant.

  5. To be fair, isn’t an MP who decides to vote the way their constituents want them to vote ALSO voting their conscience?

    After all, if you decide that following your constituent’s wishes on a particular file is your ethical obligation as a democrat, didn’t your CONSCIENCE lead you to that decision?

    • If you don’t stop trying to be a pretzel on every topic, you’re going to hurt yourself.

      • That’s unfair. Mr. LKO is to be praised for always being willing to thoughtfully consider and respond to the other side (you might say sometimes to a fault, and you might even further say his post was a strong example of that very trait).

        • That’s not praiseworthy. That’s being paralyzed by indecision..

          • I’m hardly paralyzed by indecision, I just acknowledge that different people make different decisions for different reasons. The members of the House of Commons don’t have a single hive mind. One MP’s conscience can lead that MP in direction Y while another MP’s conscience leads them in direction X. That’s not some complex notion, it’s simply a recognition that individual human beings are INDIVIDUALS.

          • Dithering.

          • I don’t understand how this is an example of me “dithering”. You seem to be saying that no one’s conscience could lead them to vote with their constituents’ wishes. Do you have some way that we’re all unaware of of seeing in to the heart and souls of other human beings???

          • It’s their job LKO….what they should know before they’re ever off to Ottawa

            They aren’t there to promote their own wishes and beliefs. They represent a riding.

          • So, are you saying that it’s your belief that an MP’s job is to vote on issues in the House of Commons only and always in accordance with what the majority of the constituents in their riding would have them do?

          • I love the way you guys try to make simple routine things sound as complex and complicated as possible, necessitating numerous posts and difficult angles.

            I think maybe you just like talking

          • LOL. Irony, thy name is Emily.

            The fact that one person’s conscience can make them do X, and another person’s conscience could lead them to do Y is indeed extremely simple. It seems to me that it’s YOU who is making it complicated.

            In all seriousness though, are you saying that it’s your belief that an MP’s job is to vote on issues in the House of Commons only and always in accordance with what the majority of the constituents in their riding would have them do?

          • LOL toss another ball in the air….you haven’t gotten enough of them in circulation thus far.

            PS….MPs can vote anywhere they like, but outside of the HOC it won’t do them any good.

          • LOL

            Why do I always fall down this rabbit hole? Note to self, do not try to engage Emily in a rational argument…

          • Cuz you’re a silly wabbit

            And wabbits aren’t rational

          • She thinks she’s God, LKO. Or perhaps The Shadow…

      • So, you disagree then? An MP’s conscience couldn’t compel an MP to believe that they are ethically obligated to follow the will of their constituents when voting in the House?

        I personally think that we elect MPs to make decisions on their own, not just to represent what their constituents think, but I certainly don’t disrespect the notion held by some MPs that their obligation should be first and foremost to respecting the will of the majority of their constituents. It seems to me that either position could be dictated by one’s conscience. One person’s conscience could lead them to feel ethically bound to follow their own heart whatever the people who elected them think, while another person conscience makes them feel bound to follow their constituents preferences regardless of what’s in their heart. I don’t think one has to tie oneself into a pretzel to think that, it’s nothing more complicated than an acknowledgement that different people are DIFFERENT.

        • MMmmmno, you’re dithering.

          • So, I should just declare that there’s no way that another human being’s conscience could lead them to act in a way different from the way that MY conscience would lead me to act?

            Is it that you think we’re all in a Borg collective, or do you have some magical way of seeing into the hearts and souls of other people?

          • Good thing you’re not a judge…or a juror.

          • It’s a very good thing that YOU aren’t. You have preconceived notions on everything and an incredible ability to ignore reality. A defendant wouldn’t have a hope of a fair trial.

          • Nope….not in your case fer shure…..’hang em Dano’

          • ???

            Hello non sequitur. Always nice to see you.

          • It’s not a non sequitur…..it means you have no judgement, and are indecisive.

            Can’t connect dots either apparently.

          • Surely on this occasion Emily is just funning with you……surely?

          • I tend to always assume that Emily is being serious.

            That said, it’s true that I likely wouldn’t be able to tell whether Emily was being outrageous or obtuse in a deliberate attempt at humour, or if she was just being outrageously obtuse.

    • Probably. But I think the more relevant question is should the MP’s be voting with their conscience at all?

      We have a specialized class of workers, politicians, who we specifically elect and place away from private enterprise so that they have the time and resources to examine the issues that are important to society and work toward the solutions and decisions that would best benefit their constituents.

      In most instances, this should essentially mean looking at the science, facts, and statistics of issues so that they can make the informed decision that the rest of us would if we had the time to look into the matter properly.

      In a few instances, the science may be inconclusive. In this case, it rather behooves the MP, in the job as a representative of the constituents, to ensure that we have as much of the information in as easily digestible form as possible and then seek to echo the opinion of the majority.

      Conscience plays no part in any of this. It’s the definition of the job.

  6. Lamoureaux never struck me as the naiive type. Maybe he should do a little research on how the anti-choice lobby has been working in the U.S.

  7. I’m not sure how anyone can debate the fact that this is an obvious attempt to limit abortion.
    How could conferring human rights on a fetus NOT result in limits? Isn’t that the point of human rights laws? To protect someone from the loss of them? And to do that, you have to be “someone” don’t you? Thus the attempt to redefine and thus include the potential for a human being under the laws protecting human beings.
    Attempting to define a zygote, fetus etc as a “human being” however, was bound to fail from the get go. I mean it seems obvious that it would inevitably be an arbitrary determination, the result of which was bound to leave most unsatisfied one way or another.
    In the end though, this was obvious attempt at a run-around of current law. That the anti-abortion supporters would even try this demonstrates their awareness in terms of the likelihood of success of approaching this from the obvious and more rational perspective.
    There is no consensus in this country on how one would change our laws concerning abortions. Despite the apparent black and white of it, the real truth is that there is a broad range of opinions in terms of where there should or should not be lines in the sand.
    The question of when a human being becomes a human being is a philosophical one. There is no hard and fast determining factor beyond birth. If society wants to limit abortion in some manner, it’s going to have to face the question head on, NOT with these types of sneaky legalistic avenues.

  8. It would be interesting to know what percentage of those who frame the abortion issue as one of “sacred” human rights also favour the death penalty or are completely prepared to compromise the rights of a child soldier imprisoned in Gitmo.

    I suspect some human rights are more sacred than others…discretionary sacredness, so to speak.

  9. “if you read what was actually voted on, we were not voting on (a woman’s right to choose)”

    No Kevin, you were voting on a motion to EVENTUALLY limit a woman’s right to choose. Quelle distinction.

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