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Mark Warawa challenges the soul of our parliamentary democracy

A point of order that exposes the rot


 

Shortly after the start of business this morning, Conservative MP Mark Warawa rose to complain that he had been prevented from delivering a member’s statement last week.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. It is an honour to come before you regarding the right of a member of Parliament to introduce an S. O. 31. Looking at our policy manual, O’Brien and Bosc, at page 60, it says that the classic definition of “parliamentary privilege” is the sum of the particular rights enjoyed by each House collectively and each member of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions.

What are those functions? What are those responsibilities? They are found on page 212 of O’Brien and Bosc, where it states: Members sit in the House of Commons to serve as representatives of the people who have elected them to…office. And: The member of parliament represents his constituency through service in the House of Commons.

That is the ultimate responsibility of us, as members of Parliament, each having the great honour to represent their communities. I am honoured to represent the community of Langley. It goes on, at page 61 of O’Brien and Bosc, to say: For example, the privilege of freedom of speech is secured to Members not for their personal benefit, but to enable them to discharge their functions of representing their constituents…

And there it says it, again, the importance of having that privilege, freedom of speech, to represent constituencies. On page 62 of O’Brien and Bosc, it says: Privilege essentially belongs to the House– To yourself, Mr. Speaker: –as a whole; individual Members can only claim privilege insofar as any denial of their rights, or threat made to them, would impede the [functions] of the House.

So, it clearly says that we each have responsibilities and we have privileges and rights to ensure that we fulfill the responsibility of representing our constituencies. It also goes on, at page 82 of O’Brien and Bosc, where it states: Any disregard…or attack on the rights, powers and immunities of the House and its Members, either by an outside person or body, or by a Member of the House, is referred to as a “breach of privilege”…

Last Thursday, it was my turn to present an S. O. 31. I was ready and prepared to introduce the S. O. 31. Now, some would ask, what is an S. O. 31? S. O., Standing Orders, clause 31 states: A Member may be recognized, under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5), to make a statement for not more than one minute. The Speaker–Yourself, Mr. Speaker: –may order a Member to resume his or her seat if, in the opinion of the Speaker, improper use is made of this Standing Order.

It refers to Standing Order 30(5). That Standing Order states the days and the times that S. O. 31s can be made. However, back to S. O. 31, it is clear, Mr. Speaker, that each member in this House of Commons has the right, the privilege, of presenting an S. O. 31, on a rotational basis, that gives each member in this House equal opportunity to represent their constituents.

That has been managed by yourself, Mr. Speaker, for those who are independent members of this Parliament. Those who are members of an official party, myself being a member of the Conservative Party, we, in an organized way, and the Liberal Party and the NDP, provide you with a list of those who will be making S. O. 31s in coordinated way. However, what has to be guaranteed is that each member of this House has the equal opportunity to make an S. O. 31.

If at any time that right and privilege to make an S. O. 31 on an equal basis in this House is removed, I believe I have lost my privilege of equal right that I have in this House. I was scheduled on March 20 from 2:00 to 2:15 to make an S. O. 31. Fifteen minutes prior to that time, I was notified that my turn to present the S. O. 31 had been removed. The reason I was given was that the topic was not approved of. However, there is no reason why an S. O. 31 should be removed.

The only person who can remove that is you, Mr. Speaker, according to S. O. 31. The authority to remove an S. O. 31 from any member of this House is solely in your hands, and the guiding is under S. O. 31. Again, it states: A Member may be recognized, under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5), to make a statement for not more than one minute. So we cannot go over one minute. It could be less. Then it states: The Speaker may order a Member to resume his or her seat if, in the opinion of the Speaker, improper use is made of this Standing Order.

So that is only in your authority, Mr. Speaker, to ask a member to return to his seat if you feel that the S. O. 31 that is being made is not in order. I believe that my privilege as a member to present an S. O. 31 was infringed upon by the actions that happened on March 20. This is my earliest opportunity to present my question of privilege, today. I believe it is not an issue specifically for me. I have experienced the removal of my right and my privilege, but it is a question as to how this House operates. The question for you, Mr. Speaker, is should every member have that equal right? Yes, it is clear that every member does. How is it being managed? Is it being managed in a way that members could have that right removed? Yes, I have experienced that and others have too.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking you to rule the matter prima facie, a question of privilege. I also reserve the right to speak again to respond to comments that may be coming from others. The Canadian Parliament is based on rules, responsibilities and privileges. Each of us has that responsibility to represent our communities, the people who elected us. We need to have those rights to be ensured that we have the opportunity to properly represent our communities.

I look forward to your comments, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the opportunity to bring this to the attention of the House.

Essentially, Mr. Warawa is challenging his party’s ability to control which Conservative MPs are allowed to stand and speak in those 15 minutes before Question Period.

Government Whip Gordon O’Connor followed Mr. Warawa, arguing that the Speaker was in no position to tell a party how to conduct its own affairs.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to the point of privilege by the member for Langley. He claims that his rights and privileges as a parliamentarian have been breached with regard to his desire to deliver a member’s statement on March 20, 2013.

The practice of the House, as it developed over time, is clear with respect to the delivery of members’ statements by members of recognized parties. Page 423 of O’Brien and Bosc states very clearly: The opportunity to speak during Statements by Members is allocated to private Members of all parties. In according Members the opportunity to participate in this period, the Chair is guided by lists provided by the Whips of the various parties and attempts to recognize those Members supporting the government and those Members in opposition on an equitable basis. While Ministers are not permitted to use this period to address the House, Parliamentary Secretaries may.

Let me repeat that the House of Commons Procedure and Practice says clearly in this regard the Chair is guided by lists provided by the whips of the various parties.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, while each party manages the process from a different perspective, the bottom line is that each party makes these decisions. The practice for many years in the House is for the Speaker to follow the guidance provided by the parties on which members to call on any given day. The member for Langley is essentially calling on you to inquire into the question of how such lists are prepared by the parties in the House, essentially being invited to become involved in adjudicating the internal affairs of party caucuses and their management. Under any reasonable and generous interpretation of your powers, it is not for the Speaker to assume such a novel and expansive power.

The management of caucus affairs, from voting whip lines on bills to assignment of committee responsibility, to preparation of lists for the members making statements are managed differently in all parties. However, what these have in common is that these decisions are made within parties. Put simply, this is a team activity and your role is referee. It is not your job as referee to tell the coach or manager which player to play at any given time. That is a question for each team to decide.

In closing, I submit there is no case for a member’s privilege being denied in this matter as the rules, as clearly outlined in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, were respected. I ask you to rule accordingly.

The submission of a list by the party leadership is also how the line-up for Question Period is determined each day.

Conservative MP Leon Benoit followed Mr. O’Connor, reporting that he too had been kept from delivering a statement.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go through the process that has been well laid out by the member for Langley, but I want to say that I too feel that my rights have been infringed on by members of the party because I am not allowed to speak on certain topics in S. O. 31s. I have had S. O. 31s removed and I have been told that if I have one on a certain topic, I simply will not be given S. O. 31s. I believe this is infringing on my right as an MP to freedom of speech and to represent my constituents freely.

The government whip has pointed out that the procedure has evolved and the parties have been given control of these lists. I do not think I would object to that as long as they do not infringe on the rights of individual members, but that is what has been happening. I have had my rights taken away when it comes to representing my constituents on certain topics and I just do not think that is appropriate. Already, as you know, independents are given S. O. 31s, so it is not only recognized parties that have S. O. 31s.

In considering this issue, I ask you to consider that and the possibility that members from all parties may be handled in some way as independents if they feel their rights are being infringed upon or overridden in some way by the leaderships of their parties.

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen stood to say that the official opposition would have something to say in the future, but Green MP Elizabeth May quickly rallied to the cause of Mr. Warawa and Mr. Benoit.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Langley, as well as the hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright. For a specific case, may I say this is one of the most important points of privilege that I have heard in the brief almost two years I have been serving here. It cuts to the core of what is wrong with parliamentary democracy that the hon. government House leader could put before you a sports metaphor that we are here as teams, as brands or colours and we are all to take instructions from our team boss.

We are not here as teams. The principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy is that we are here are representatives of our constituencies and our constituents. Incidentally, we are merely members of political parties. Political parties do not exist in our Constitution. They are not an essential part of our democracy. They have grown to be seen to be the most interesting thing going on and we have grown to see politics as some sort of sport. However, democracy is not a sport. We are not playing on teams, and each individual member has individual rights and the members for Langley and Vegreville—Wainwright feel that their rights have been infringed upon.

I would add that I rose on a point of order to you some many months ago on the question of S.O. 31s and the fact that they were increasingly being used for purposes that while not against our Standing Orders as they are written are against the spirit of Standing Orders as described by former Speaker Madam Justice Sauvé, who pointed out that they should typically speak to matters of local concern in our constituencies and should not be used as a place for attacks on others, specifically ad hominem personal attacks.

At the time you said you might comment on that later. Perhaps this point of privilege might give you a chance to further elucidate when it is inappropriate for the approved S.O. 31s from the Conservative war room to be very vicious attacks and the ones that members wish to make about the concerns of their constituents be censored and prevented from being presented in this place.

So here we are. Last week, Mr. Warawa’s motion on sex-selective abortion was deemed out of order. Now he has apparently been barred by his party from standing to speak about an issue that concerns him during the time specifically reserved for MPs to do just that. Here is the great problem with the House of Commons as it now is. It is not a new tension, this conflict between individual and party. But the balance of power has become entirely unbalanced and that imbalance is at the root of everything that is wrong with our parliamentary democracy: from the inability of the House of Commons to properly scrutinize government spending and hold the government to account to omnibus legislation to the daily sight of grown men and women in business attire elected and then paid to stand and read their assigned talking points into the official record. Here is the rot.

In the past, the time reserved for statements by members has been the subject of complaint for the partisan and negative tone that some of those statements have adopted. Last fall, for instance, Ms. May raised concerns. In responding, Government House leader Peter Van Loan invoked the freedom of MPs to speak their minds.

What I find curious is her suggestion that somehow it is inappropriate for members of the House to stand up for the views of their constituents … I find it very unusual that a member like her, who is always fighting to have her voice heard, rises repeatedly to try and suppress the voice of others in this House. Both of these seem paradoxical to me, especially when we are talking about members’ statements under Standing Order 31, one which has been the greatest tradition in this House of allowing members the utmost freedom to speak their mind. However, the member of the Green Party seems to want to keep them from speaking their mind when it is not an issue that she disagrees with, the carbon tax, and I find that quite disturbing.

The government’s argument now is apparently that this freedom of speech extends only so far as the leadership of the party is willing to permit it.

The particulars of Mr. Warawa’s cause and whether you agree with him or disagree with him matter not a bit here. Should he have the right to stand and speak in the House of Commons during the 15 minutes reserved each day for MPs to do so? Is he of significance in his own right or is he merely an outlet of the Conservative Party of Canada? What precisely do we want this gathering of 308 individuals to be? What do we want them to do with their time and their privilege?

That we elect individuals with partisan affiliations is useful and understandable. But that we would elect mere servants to the party leader seems a rather shoddy way to run a modern parliamentary democracy.


 

Mark Warawa challenges the soul of our parliamentary democracy

  1. “Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Langley, as well
    as the hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright. For a specific case, may I
    say this is one of the most important points of privilege that I have
    heard in the brief almost two years I have been serving here. It cuts to
    the core of what is wrong with parliamentary democracy that the hon.
    government House leader could put before you a sports metaphor that we
    are here as teams, as brands or colours and we are all to take
    instructions from our team boss.” So says Ms.May.

    Oh, Ms.May:when you have no experience whatsoever in dealing with a caucus or even dealing with a two-some of Green MP’s, why do you think you have the answers to this request?

    How could a government (any government) even function if it weren’t for team work. You see, Ms.May, you need a team first of all to be able to form government, and to acquire a team, a team must have a goal in mind. If there were nothing but individual goals there would never be a team possible, and therefore there would never be a government possible.

    (If Gretzky would take a shot at goal,but his team mates would have said that they preferred a different sort of shot on goal and therefore they wouldn’t assist Gretzky in his shot on goal, how in heaven’s name would that work on the ice in real time. It wouldn’t work, ever.)

    Ms.May, may I suggest you get a team, your team, into the House first and then do the grandstanding out of experience. At least then you would have something to stand on.

    (In the meantime, may I recommend that you keep suggesting further subsidizing Via Rail, and find out how much of a team will be elected on that recommendation. Or try to get a team together for putting solar panels on roofs, because I sure don’t see many of them around anywhere.)

    • In your zeal to put down the only non-Conservative speaker quoted in this blog, is it lost on you that the Con whip, Mr O’Connor — the very person called up on to quell Woodsworth’s abortion motion last year — also defends Warawa, followed by yet another Con MP, Mr Benoit., and earlier, Peter Van Loan? You can post whatever you like here, but you always seem to focus on the peripheral: you are so partisan that you cannot see the forest for the trees. And now, I count down for the ubiquitous non sequitur…five, four, three…

      • Coming from a scrupulous non-partisan such as yourself, that’s a highly damning indictment.

        • Thumbs up to OrsonBean for departing from his usual comfort zone. Atta boy Orson!

        • Was the post I made to Francien partisan at all? I mean, now that you have jumped into the fray and all to put me down to defend Francien, you may as well take a moment and show me the error of my partisan ways.

          • I don’t know that I’m defending Francien — quite frankly she’s made so many damn posts on this topic, I tuned out after the first one or two.

      • Funny! Here I visit a comment board full of partisan anti-Harperites and I must be taught a lesson in how not to be so partisan.

        I love your kind of reasoning. It is amusing most of the time.

    • Given this analogy Mr. Warawa should stifle himself, for the good of the team – right?

      • No, it is my opinion that there are ample opportunities for MP’s to voice their individual opinions as how, to their opinions, the party, as a whole, should proceed in Parliament. I am quite sure that CPC MP’s (as well as other party’s MP’s) are given ample opportunities to voice their opinions at to what direction the party should lead.

        Most party leaders prefer that the party they lead stands united in public as much as possible, so at not to seed confusion. I would think that all party leader think that way. That is just my opinion.

        Your opinion may differ from mine. But that does not mean that yours is the right one and mine is wrong. Nor does it mean that when Harper prefers a united party front that that is wrong, than that is his opinion and his choice.

        Are you not pro-choice?

        • Sorry – this, at its heart, is a free speech issue. Where one stands on abortion has nothing to do with it… or at least, it shouldn’t if one is able to differentiate between issues.

          • Keith, it has everything to do with abortion. That is their only concern and sadly because it is your concern, you agree with them. Wait until they change their focus to gay marriage and become relentless about changing those laws. Then ask yourself, is it really about free speech?

  2. Do we have independent verification that Warawa was on the list to speak last Thursday?

    … and wouldn’t it be marvelous if Warawa was successful in convincing the Speaker that he should be allowed to speak and then used that time to lament the job-killing, life sucking carbon tax on everything that the NDP is proposing.

    • Nice original thought there StewartSmith. :)

    • You can bet that if he wanted to trot out the tired talking points, he would have been encouraged and, afterwards, applauded. He would have had no problem getting in his SO time.

      • Another poster who is so very certain of how others think and act. Sorry, but I don’t like people who pretend to be openminded when criticizing Harper for being too pushy, but in reality the openmindedness is just a pushy style all their own.

        • I’m not at all openminded anymore where Harper and his stooges are concerned. Was once; tried to retain a certain amount of willingness to change my mind for a long time; finally realized it was a fruitless waste of time and went full-time into cynicism regarding the CPC.
          So yeah, I’m pretty certain, based on past observation, how Harper & the CPC will act. These leopards ain’t changing their spots anytime soon.
          At this point, even if they do something I think is good, I look for the swinging-door clause that will smack me from behind.

          • Well, you have a choice with other parties. There is the LPC and the NDP and you can get tired of them when you’ll find out that in those parties too there is leadership which won’t accept much speaking out in public. As long as your eyes are open.

          • Oh, I’m not just talking about this one issue in my comments about the CPC.
            As for the other parties – they haven’t impressed me that much lately, either. The lacklustre nature of the opposition parties is probably the main reason Harper has had as much electoral success as he has.
            If Liz May can find someone of her calibre to run in my riding next election, I know where my vote is going. Too bad she didn’t decide to throw in her lot with the Libs and take a run at their leadership. Now THAT would have made for an interesting leadership campaign!

          • Interesting indeed. A group of 11 instead of 10.

          • But she is miles above most of them in terms of recognition factor and ability – many of the ten should have dropped out early on or never entered the race to begin with.

  3. An interesting move by Mr. Warawa but probably a waste of time and effort under the current Speaker. Scheer does not have the backbone to stand up for Parliament against the PMO. Next question is whether or not Warawa stands by his principles and chooses to sit as an independant. I imagine he has considered his next move prior to making an open gesture of defiance. At least I hope so.

    • You already know ahead of time how the Speaker thinks and will act. You are one powerful person. Perhaps you should set up a political party, since you will know ahead of time what everyone is thinking. Must be nice. I wonder why you haven’t done so already, setting up your own party, the party of the clarivoyant.

      • I’m not absolutely certain. I have now done the math and I can say that there is one(1) chance in 700 that Scheer will show some backbone and protect the rights of MPs against the bullying of the Harper PMO. That’s a .143% chance of independant thinking – 19 times out of 20. You were right to call me out on that overstatement of the probability.

      • Scheer is pretty transparent. He has, to my knowledge, never gone against the wishes of the PMO. Feel free to prove me wrong on this.

      • If you had been paying attention to Scheer you would know he is pretty predictable. Curious to know if you’re backing Warawa on this?

        • Why would I tell you my opinion on Warawa, when the last time you asked for my opinion on Fraser, you only ignored my answer and then took off on a spiel of your own opinions about Fraser and, not to forget, another spiel of Harper bashing. If you want to go off on a tangent, you don’t need me to facilitate you. Really, you don’t.

          • That’ll show her Francien. Stick to your guns and flatly refuse to offer any opinions on anything!

          • What the heck! I give lots of opinions. Thought out opinions. Why won’t you ask JanBC to explain things in regards to my opinions given to then be ignored or twisted around so that JanBC could go off into a tangent.

            What are people doing here on these boards if all they are interested in is to distort people’s postings.

          • It’s my experience in these kind of discussions that people will often misconstrue and/or misrepresent what you’ve said because it gives their own rebuttals that much more strength when they do so. The only remedy – and it’s an imperfect remedy – is to write carefully and precisely so that it’s difficult to twist your words. Also, try not to be distracted by side issues, unless you feel like it. Sometimes it is fun just to ramble all over the place.

          • I hate it to be falsely accused. There can be few things worse in life than to be falsely accused.

            It is sad, really, that the Macleans comment boards must come to this: some posters always wanting to spew hatred instead of wanting to do some debating.

          • Warawa is the subject here not a tangent. I can see from your other posts you think he should stifle himself.

          • Tell me please, where i have said that “he should stifle himself”

            My bet is that you can’t but prove me wrong.

          • Scroll down – in a reply to Hester Eastman. If that doesn’t mean he should stifle himself, what does it mean?

          • Tell me what part of my post you refer to that says anything like stifling the man? Please bring your argument forward. Don’t hide and call it evidence.

          • You would appeal to be arguing for caucus solidarity in the public domain, from which I deduce you mean Warawa should keep quiet. This would be simpler if you would just tell us if you support him or not.

          • Why do you have this need to distort the contents of my postings? This is what I posted (and let others judge for themselves, not take your twisted words for it):

            “But a caucus as such can do the voicing of opinions. Why would it not be
            acceptable for party MP’s to voice their individual opinions in caucus
            meeting and party conventions, so that the party as a whole can stand
            united? I don’t see why individual decision making has to happen at
            every step of the way. Why would Canada (or any country) be served by
            politicians going off in different directions all of the time? I don’t
            see the point in that.”

            Where have I stated that members should be stifled when I clearly have said that letting the meetings of caucus and party membership be the places of individual opinions?

          • To be technical, you’ve essentially said there that they have no place speaing “in parliament”, which, if you’ll care to remember, is what this entire discussion is about.

            It’s all well and good to say, “Well, they can speak where nobody’s listening and it doesn’t matter.. that’s perfectly fine” but it really doesn’t address the issue of MPs being muzzled from their job as representative.

  4. I see….so gagging scientists is not a problem. Slandering and defaming Opposition members is not a problem. Terrifying the press corp into silence is not a problem.

    But if Mr Warawa….who is really only qualified to be out cleaning up panda poo….doesn’t get to speak out for the nth time, then suddenly the ‘soul of our democracy’ is being challenged??

    If the media is worried about our democracy, they’re 7 fracking years too late.

    • But EmilyOne, yesterday you were defending Ted Menzies by not speaking up against him when he did all of the bad things he did. You do like Ted, don’t you? Yes, you do.

    • Umm, could you give me an example of this government “Terrifying the press corp into silence”?

      • Didn’t you hear? They’ve been snatching up Journalists from the Byward Market and reprogramming them. They are trying to get Donald Sutherland to warn people, but no-one can find him.

        • Odd for you to lie like that. Not feeling well? Or maybe you’re just joking….hard to tell on here. It’s why I use LOL so much.

          • Odd for you to be tone-deaf, Emily. No I am not seriously suggesting the next round of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. I was agreeing with Orson that “terrifying the press corp” is just a little over the top. Perhaps “annoying the press corp” or “disrespecting the press corp” or even “making the press corp uncomfortable” (if Vic Toews is there). But ‘terrifying’ seems a little… unhinged.

          • Ahh sorry….although I’d still say our press was more ‘terrified’ than ‘annoyed’.

            They’re only allowed 5 questions…..and the questions have to be ‘suitable’ or even vetted, or the journo discovers he’s no longer invited.

            Journos who write unfavourable stories….even once, are announced to be some kind of evil fiend….into porn or supporting Taliban, or worse….donated 5 bucks to the Libs 20 years ago.

            Ass-kissing journos get the big stories…..and it’s open and blatant anymore.

            There are some stories never mentioned….or even shouted down….just gone, hidden…and it seems unlikely the media gags itself.

            The press duly follows every ‘shiny object’ Cons float….oh look, Pandas….oh look new shoes….and somehow ‘misses’ major stories

            That doesn’t say ‘annoyance’ to me… the old journos wouldn’t have put up with it…..that says ‘terrified’

          • Yes, there is no critical coverage of this government to be found anywhere. Period. Journalists are hiding under their beds quivering in fear.
            I’m not making this up. I mean, Emily says so, so it must be irrefutably true.

          • Glad we’re in agreement, Bean.

  5. My guess is Scheer will likely side with O’Connor on this specific motion. If the party sends in lists, it’s not up to the Speaker to determine who is on the list. That being said, an interesting gambit by Warawa, Benoit and Bruinooge. To have 3 MPs stand up and speak to this in the House is a far cry from someone giving an exasperated tidbit or two to a local paper. Where Warawa may find a more salient point is if he can’t get anywhere with his appeal on his sex-selective abortion motion. That the clerk didn’t offer any objection, but the committee voted it down anyways may provide more fodder for a Question of Privilege than this.

  6. MPs having influence and power pretty much disappeared once Canadian political parties started holding leadership conventions instead of allowing MPs choose their leader. Look at Aus and UK right now, MPs have formed awkward squads and are making life difficult for their own leaders because they are dissatisfied with their leader’s performance. While here in Canada, MPs are totally neutered and have decided their main function is to be dopey twats who blindly follow their leader while collecting lavish salaries and benefits.

    We don’t have free speech in Canada so I don’t know why Warawa expects it in Parliament. Some opinions are more equal than others in Canada but we like to pretend that we are allowed free thought.

    And for a supposedly non-partisan msm, our journos always focus on Con Party and its shortcomings but pay very little attention to the anti democratic nature of other major parties. Parliament is under threat because all MPs are lickspittles who represent their party’s interest before regular Canadians’.

    • But a caucus as such can do the voicing of opinions. Why would it not be acceptable for party MP’s to voice their individual opinions in caucus meeting and party conventions, so that the party as a whole can stand united? I don’t see why individual decision making has to happen at every step of the way. Why would Canada (or any country) be served by politicians going off in different directions all of the time? I don’t see the point in that.

      • Then why vote to have MPs to represent ridings at all if they are only supposed to echo their leader? Why not just have a leader and everyone do what he says? Now what could we call that kind of government, hmmm, it wouldn’t really be a democracy in the way we know it, hmmm, what would you call it?

        • Who is saying that MP’s should only be echoing their leader? I did not say that.

          I said that it would be good, in my opinion, if the MP’s would do their individual voicing of opinions during caucus or party member conventions for instance.

          You are completely missing the contents of my post and then take off on a rant supposedly based on things I’ve said. I never said nor believe any of the things you now attribute to me. Is that your choice of modus operandus?

          • Yes, that is my MO and on days when you do not post at all, well I am at a loss on those days. You constantly tell other commenters that we do not understand or miss-read your posts. Has it occurred to you that perhaps they are not clear in intention, and tend to be riddled with verbiage and personal insults to your fellow posters, that perhaps you are responsible for the lack of clarity? Or are we all just poor readers?

          • No, you and most others here on this board are instantly prejudiced when I comment because you can’t stand what I have to say, because it calls out the nonsense being presented by most here on these boards.

            Just read over my postings and the replies I get and then tell me how many of the replies to my postings are twisting and turning my comments, and how many comments I twist and turn in response to postings from others.

            It is not difficult to find examples of what I am accusing posters of. Just go read a few of them and get back to me, if you can mount a counter by telling me that what I’ve just said in this post is false. It isn’t false and you know it if you read the posts on these comment boards. Do it, and tell me what you’ve found, but I think you will not look at the evidence because it will come out against your accusations about me.

          • See, there we go already. Thumbing down this post before reading it. It couldn’t have been read because the thumbs down went up as soon as I put up the post.

          • I don’t give thumbs-down to anyone here; too lazy to register and I like reading the opinions of others, even if they are completely different from mine.

          • Did I accuse you of giving me those thumbs down? No, I did not.

            Read my post before commenting on it.

          • Oh dear… You are getting rather het up and insulting people who, at least from my vantage point, are sympathetic to your views. Once a thread gets deep enough, the replies are sequential rather than nested. It can result in confusion but doesn’t need to result in hostility.

          • Who is being hostile?

          • because you can’t stand what I have to say

            to be honest, I’m usually sitting down when I read your comments ;)

          • :)

          • No. What you said is that the only time an MP should have a voice is when it will not be heard by any except their own party members.. You are suggesting that Canadians as a whole, hell, even the MPs own constituents, do not deserve to have their views represented in parliament unless it happens to agree with the party as a whole.

          • No, I have said that MP’s do have an outlet for being heard, namely in caucus meetings and party conferences etc. They can also speak out publicly when in the House. But MP’s must also think of the party as a whole. And the party as a whole is more than the sums of its parts.

            If the MP’s would not be able to be elected under a party banner, they may never be in government at all. MP’s cannot take just one view of this give and take and consider there lot just a losing proposition. There are ample opportunities to speak on behalf of constituents apart from doing the undermining. That is just my opinion, and time will tell what other voters will think of it come next election, and if and when the rebels will run as independents and will be elected as such. If it was in my riding, I would support the MP being part of a party.

          • “They can also speak out publicly when in the House.”

            No, they can’t. That’s the entire point. Unless you’re talking about some house other than the HoC.

          • We must be watching different versions of question period, because I have heard members of all parties address many subjects, on all sorts of issues, other than the abortion issue, when being in the House.

          • “Other than the exact point we’re talking about, everything is fine.”

          • Presumably, as long as it passed the vetting by the party whip. Otherwise – sit down and shut up. (And I suspect the other parties are as bad; we my hear from some of them soon if Warawa’s gripe strikes a chord.)

          • if the MP’s would do their individual voicing of opinions during caucus or party member conventions

            Perhaps they have, and their frustration grows from this. Who knows what they have been promised, or think they have been promised?

      • ” Why would Canada (or any country) be served by politicians going off in different directions all of the time?”

        Free speech, allowing MPs to express their thoughts, is important for proper democracy. Constant muzzling of MPs, Conservative Party uber alles attitude is not healthy, it is anti-democratic. But all parties enforce this doctrine that MPs are not allowed to think for themselves ever, all MPs believe party before voter.

        Parliament should be noisy, cacophonous because that is how people are. A Conservative MP wishing to express his anti-abortion thoughts should not be muzzled like this, it is childish.

        • Hester, the conservative party didn’t hide its party platform when Warawa and his friends made the decision to run as conservatives. They knew that the conservative party had promised NOT to change Canada’s abortion laws. Therefore, by entering the race for MP under the conservative banner, they were being dishonest about they were willing to support if they got elected as conservative MPs. While you are free to believe whatever you like, you are supposed to stick to what you promised to do when you take the job. These MPs got their jobs in large part due to the legitimacy of the party that they joined and that party’s platform. To say they deserve the right to go against the platform that got them elected is not really accurate. If they don’t want to adhere to the platform of the party, then leave the party. As a voter, I voted for that party because they were pro-choice. I am not thrilled to hear that their MPs now feel that don’t have to honor that promise not to change Canada’s abortion laws.

          • That’s… a decent point, actually. And while it can be argued that Warawa has already said that his motion specifically does not propose any sort of legislative changes, the wider statement of Harper and the CPC is that they did not want to re-open debate on this issue at all. Warawa can’t argue that his motion doesn’t re-open at least a portion of the debate.

            However, I’ll point out that it’s not unheard of for candidates to campaign under a party banner while specifically denying certain portions of the wider party platform. Given what we know about Warawa and his riding I don’t find it unbelievable that he did exactly this.

            Basically, even if you campaign under a party banner, your personal responsibilities to your constituent’s wishes should trump that.

          • Case in point: massive number of Quebec separatists who have run over the years and sat federally as Tories, Liberals and Dippers (often leading to mayhem later on).

          • Okay but they have had the opportunity to bring two motions forward in the house regarding abortion laws in Canada and they have been voted down. Enough already. If they were making the same attempts to change the gay marriage laws would people be so patient? I would like to see them provide some proof that sex-selection abortion is even occurring in Canada. Let’s have a parliamentary committee. I don’t believe it exists.

          • Well, I somehow doubt that we’ll ever see a parliamentary committee when he can’t even make his views heard during private members’ statements.

          • It isn’t like these guys haven’t made their views known over and over and over again. They have brought motions forward to change the abortion laws and those motions were overwhelmingly defeated in the house. They want to keep bringing up the same motions and try to sneak them in with different wording. I have never heard of any of them bringing forth any incidences of sex-selection abortion occurring in Canada and yet they are hell bent on passing a law against it.

          • “…you are supposed to stick to what you promised to do when you take the job.”

            Psst… wanna tell that to Harper?

          • If we are discussing abortion, then Harper has kept his word.

          • You may be discussing abortion, but the main topic is parliamentary freedom. And my previous comment is on both the principles Harper espoused in this regard while in opposition, and his habit of not keeping promises generally.

        • And do you think it is childish for the Liberals and NDP members also to have voted in committee for the motion not to go ahead, or do you think it is only childish on the part of the CPC and that leadership?

    • Well said, I couldn’t agree more.they are a bunch of wimps under Lord Harper.

      • Hey guys, you are aware that in the normal course of events, it’s the party in power that is scrutinized most closely, right?

        So when Chretien was robbing the treasury and assaulting the citizens, he was the guy getting called a dictator (a Friendly Dictator if memory serves). When Brian Mulroney was stealing the furniture and stiffing the maids, he came in for a little criticism. When Paul Martin was “misremembering” how much money was pumped into Canada Steamship Lines, or bribing opposition MPs to join his cabinet there was, as I recall, a fair bit of hullaballoo in the media. Any of this stuff ringing any bells for ya?

        With the big chair comes the big attention. Stop sniffling like a bunch of snot-nosed crybabies.

      • BS! They joined the party. The party had a platform. They have gone against the platform 3 times now in bringing forth motions about changing the abortion laws in Canada. As a voter who voted for the party because they promised not to change the abortion laws, I am pissed at these MPs. Don’t join a party if you don’t like their platform. Did you just do it so you could get elected and then go rogue?

        • Hell, Harper throws out the party platform whenever he feels like it. Look for example at all the “carbon tax” nonsense and the numerous posts Wherry has made demonstrating how this is a farcical denial of what they themselves once campaigned on.

          • Many parties have broken promises after being elected…ie: Chretien and the GST…. what we have here is dissent within the party. That is different.

          • i.e. it’s OK if the boss does it but not the subordinates.

        • Yeah, as Keith has already said, I wouldn’t be calling out backbench MP’s for brazenly going against the Tory party platform. The list of times that the PM and cabinet ministers have gone against promises made in the Tory platform is as long as my arm.

          • Come now, you know that many parties have broken promises after being elected. Dissent within the party is different. If you don’t agree with the consensus of the party, leave the party….obviously that is exactly what the NDP MPs who left their party have done. You can’t expect to stay in the party and work against the party.

          • OK, but surely you can see how backbenchers might chafe at the notion that the PM and cabinet ministers can defy party policy seemingly at will, but backbenchers should just keep their mouths shut and tow the party line, or find a new party. “Don’t stray from the commitments in the party’s platform” isn’t that strong of an argument, imho, when it’s being made by people who have frequently strayed from the commitments in the party’s platform.

            But hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it. If the Tories want to say “look, if you want to even talk about social conservative issues, find someone else to support” then I think that’s a GREAT idea. I miss the Reform Party, and I eagerly await their return.

            I’m not sure it’s a great strategy for the Tories long-term success though. Preston Manning may have come to the conclusion that keeping quiet and abandoning the principles of the old Reform Party is now the way to go, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a potential new Preston Manning out there somewhere.

          • What I am saying is that if the whole party gets together and says “our base won’t support carbon tax so we have to change our stance on that” that is one thing. However, if one or two rogue members decide that ‘gay marriage is against our religious beliefs so we are going to try to ban it’, that is another thing.

            I find your comments about the Reform Party interesting. The Reform Party had limited success and that is why it evolved. Preston Manning saw that this evolution was necessary for nation-wide success. Our young people are social liberals. There won’t be another Preston Manning because Preston Manning had a vision for what was necessary for success and was willing to change to get there. There might be a far-right fringe party that has limited success but given the beating the Wild Rose Alliance took in Alberta, I am doubtful about that too.

          • What I am saying is that if the whole party gets together and says “our base won’t support carbon tax so we have to change our stance on that” that is one thing. However, if one or two rogue members decide that ‘gay marriage is against our religious beliefs so we are going to try to ban it’, that is another thing.

            Oh, I get it, but I also understand the frustration of backbenchers. After all, if the one or two members who want to ignore party policy happen to be the PM and/or a Cabinet Minister, then they just ignore party policy, and backbenchers are expected to keep quiet about it. Then, if one or two backbenchers want to ignore party policy it becomes an affront against the party, and the backbenchers are expected to keep quiet about THAT.

            As I’ve said, it was arguably ever thus, but you’ve gotta feel for the backbenchers who are expected to bite their tongues in the face of such hypocrisy. They’ve apparently got to get the whole party together and get policy changed at a convention if they want to buck party policy, whereas their colleagues in cabinet only have to decide to buck party policy if they want to buck party policy. It must be infuriating for those not in the front rows.

          • Just to add, on the Reform Party angle, I didn’t mean to point to the Reform Party for their social conservative stances, so much as for their democratic reform stances. To me, the big deal about the Reform Party (and what I liked about them, and why I admired Preston Manning) was all their pushes for greater transparency, and accountability, and for decentralizing power in Parliament, and keeping the role of individual MPs meaningful.

            I don’t think this all becomes a big problem for the Tories because of the 3-6 Tory MPs who are really passionate about abortion. However, I think it could become a problem for the Tories because of the 20-40 MPs who could be upset by the silencing of other MPs, and the continuing concentration of power in the PMO.

            If it’s just about the old Reformers who want to push a social agenda, then surely the Tories can weather the storm. The bigger problem, imho, is the much larger group of Reformers who weren’t as ideological on any given social issue, but who were/are very passionate about how issues are handled in Parliament, and how MPs are allowed (or not allowed) to fulfill their roles as MPs.

            To me, the Tories shouldn’t be worried about disappointing the folks who don’t like the abortion issue being swept under the rug. They should be worried about disappointing the folks for whom “Demand Better” wasn’t just a slogan. So, while the Tories don’t want to touch abortion, just like the Liberals never wanted to touch abortion (despite the Liberals also having pro-life members) I don’t think that the internal danger for the Tories is the word “abortion”. The internal danger for the Tories are the words “just like the Liberals”.

  7. Here is the rot.
    Indeed.
    I hope Warawa and those who backed his claim have the strength of character to sit as independents.

    • I suspect that they must have consulted with each other before hand. After all, if one backbencher jumps ship, the PM will just shrug it off. But if three members go all at once then even the most hard-headed true-believers might begin to doubt the leader. If the PMO finds a way to back down on this, then you will know that Harper has blinked.

    • I’m sure he could become the next leader of the Christian Heritage Party if he wanted. If he and a couple of dozen social conservatives would bolt Harper’s caucus and form a new party they could then ask all the questions they want, make motions and amendments, and spend all their time focused on culture war issues that the rest of the country doesn’t care about in the least. Of course if they did that, not a single one of them would be re-elected in 2015 ….

      • ‘Of course if they did that, not a single one of them would be re-elected in 2015 ….’

        If they’re truly representing the view of their constituents, they just might be OK in getting re-elected. That said… if it were that easy, they’d have probably done it by now. It’s not like they’re getting anywhere in the CPC.

        • But voters know that truly representing the view of the constituents is a bunch of crock. Not all constituents are thinking and demanding alike. Most people running for office do know, however, that belonging to a party is part of the winning strategy because parties can accomplish something and that much cannot be said if MP’s would all be running under the banner of a fringe. The voter, as a constituent, knows it too, most of the time.

          • So you already belong to the “party of the clairvoyant,” eh? All along, I thought you were nothing more than a Conservative apologist, but you’re freakin’ omniscient!

          • She knew you were going to say that.

          • Ah, but she did not say that she knew I was going to say that, you said she knew that I was going to say that. Do not put words in her mouth. Go back and re-read her posts and come back and tell me that she did not say that she knew that I was going to say that. And then tell me if Sophie Trudeau knew that!

          • You win this round on points… (so many points….)

          • Clearly. However, independents DO get re-elected if they’re doing a good job. And, if a plurality of voters in a riding believe that the CHP better represent their interests, the CHP will get elected there.

          • Yes, indeed, independents do get elected at times if enough voters think that the candidate is worthy of going (back) in. (In most cases “back in” for it is extremely difficult to run as an independent when not having performed as an MP first of all, and to have been performing as an MP before was most likely done under a party banner).

            Every riding is decided in that way. Voters cast their votes and voila.

            But it not true that independents, sitting as independents, could form a workable government. That would simply be impossible. Parties can govern because they can have the team at work. That is their strength mostly but it is their weakness at particular instances. We are now dealing with such a particular instance.

          • Well, the Bloc is a party that did pretty well for quite a few years, and it knew it would never govern… is it that hard to imagine that, with some CPC MPs jumping the CHP, it might give that party the clout it needs to at least influence the debate? Right now, the social conservative element of the party is being shut down and stifled. Is it THAT hard to imagine those CPC MPs who feel passionately about those issues to find someplace where their opinions are valued?

          • The BQ ran on the premise NOT to ever govern Canada!

            No, I cannot see the value of a split off because it will not serve a purpose other than that more parties will make the possibility of a majority government less likely. I don’t like minority governments that much. At least not enough to let them happen in favour of splinter parties.

          • You’re welcome to that opinion, and I might even agree with you. If you’re a socially conservative MP who’s being repeatedly told to pipe down, though, you might take a different view.

          • That may be so, but then I would suggest that those with opinions which are cast onto the sideline, to be sending the message to Canadians that for a country to be mature, subjects of their nature must be allowed in for discussion. I wonder what the maturity of our nation has to say about that sort of change……………

          • I think society in general is mature enough; I think certain extremist groups would have a hard time with it. I think all our political parties would.
            It is our political system and our parties that have to grow up.

          • But are the public at large and the media at large also part and parcel of this goal toward a more mature Canada?

            I am not so sure that society in general is mature enough.

          • Ah, but they can always form coalitions . . . look at the undue influence the ultra-religious parties have in Israel (I know, I know they have PR, but if our FPTP system has a splintering of interests it can replicate to a mild degree the importance that the smaller parties have there)

          • And what would be the benefit of coalitions? That they can break apart time and again over the slightest of differences?

            Believe me, my mother country has been there and done that and still doing it. If you like going to the polls every year or every other year, then go for coalition governments. They are stallers-surpreme :)

          • Well my suggestion was more tongue in cheek to be sure, given the CPC’s well-documented aversion to the idea if someone other than them tries it out.

            That said, if a sufficiently sizable splinter were to emerge from the CPC, they would most probably have to keep the splinter somewhat happy to keep in the driver’s seat without constantly having to worry about an election at the drop of a hat.

          • There won’t be a splinter party. That is my opinion.

          • Actually, that’s crap. A party is simply a gathering of people. Independents are simply people. There is absolutely nothing but tradition and small-minded partisanship preventing fluid coalitions of independents from working, and working effectively, as our government. Hell, down in the States, they even think this working across party lines thing is a good thing when they can get it done.

          • “Hell, down in the States, they even think this working across party lines thing is a good thing when they can get it done.”
            Gotta disagree with that bit; I don’t follow US politics that closely but from what I’ve seen these last few years they seem even less likely to work together than Harper does with any other party.

          • So the Bloc didn’t exist? Cadman didn’t exist?

            Smaller parties can accomplish much, given the proper circumstances.

          • Don’t forget May, as the lone sitting Green; she punches well above her weight.

          • Still, Ms. May runs on a party platform. She does not and never has run as an independent candidate. That her party is a fringe party is proven over and over again by the Canadian voters.

            Ms.May, the lady in waiting being now seconds in demand!

          • She may run on a party platform, but her party has no official status, so she is effectively an independent. Yet her arguments are clear, well thought out, and – unlike most speeches made by most politicians of any stripe – truly parliamentary. I never gave her or her party a lot of thought prior to her getting elected. I still don’t know much about her party, but as for Ms May, I have come to the conclusion that she is, far and away, the best representative we have in the House of Commons at present.

          • Ok, you to tell that to Ms.May that she is effectively running as an independent. A

            Yes, the lady in waiting plays her role well, now seconds in demand. How far she has come!

          • You keep using that line but I haven’t the foggiest what it is supposed to mean. And you wonder why people misunderstand your posts…

          • Well, is Ms.May in demand, usually, for more than a few seconds? I mean, when do you hear that the other parties have any use for Ms.May, until they can use her for their benefit, which is what they are doing now, just like Ms.Murray used Ms.May for a short time when using her in the Labrador by-election (unannounced as of yet). That’s how I see it. And my one sentence play on words does not make for an easy understanding. I can understand.

          • Have you paid any attention to any of the speeches she has given? She has received far more press coverage than any independents – or, in English Canada at least, the entire current caucus of the BQ. Her speeches are the most eloquent, well-argued and -reasoned and fact-based of any on either side of the House.

            She is also the least partisan, making her arguments without the name-calling and petty attacks we see from the mainstream parties.

            Mock her if you will, but she is the best we currently have.

          • Forgive me for saying this, but when Ms.May gave her speech in the House on the changes made to the NWPA, she sounded more like a con artist than as a sincere politician.

            Her remarks about Canadians no longer being able to reach the open waters with their canoes…………………………please!

            Her assertion that the changes to the NWPA are a complete gutting of the environmental protection, whereas she is well aware ( or should be aware) that the environmental protection act is still in place and has nothing to do with the changes made to the NWPA. Why try to pull the wool over the public’s eye in order to remain popular? I don’t get that.

            I am not mocking her. I am trying to place her comments and actions, (and those of the Green Party) in realistic terms. And I can’t do that. Sorry.

          • The cumulative effects of the changes to environmental laws made by the government – misleadingly and (they hoped) surreptitiously under the guise of budget implementation – indeed guts the protections we had in place. And I believe it will be to our detriment. but hey – if it makes the oil companies happy…

          • Yes, changes have been made. Time will tell how the changes work out. Too much bureaucratic layers can be a negative for all involved you know.

            What I find regrettable is for Ms.May to have spun the changes to the NWPA into a deficit in environmental protection. I don’t think she could prove that to be true even if she wanted to, but she was/is trying hard regardless.

            Hey, I just don’t buy into the Green party policies. I find them a bit out of touch with what people actually are like in real life. That’s just my opinion. Doesn’t mean you cannot find value in it for you. Sure you could, why not. That’s the game of politics. And we all play it for real.

          • The BQ existed all right but not to govern. In fact the BQ motto is to break away from Canada? You think the BQ would want to govern Canada from a separated Quebec? Quebec may want to do just that but I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

            Cadman was elected first as a party member. Had he never been elected as a party member first you think he may have been elected as an independent?

          • Your comment wasn’t about if they ever could get elected. It was about them being able to make a difference.

    • Independents whose only platform is to change the abortion laws….

      • If that’s what makes them happy… I don’t agree with them generally (though I do agree with Warawa that sex selection is morally reprehensible and condemning that without restricting access [I may be wrong but that is my understanding of his motion] is perhaps somewhat pointless but not a bad thing); I do however support their right to raise the issue [or any other] for discussion if they wish.

        • Okay BUT they ran as conservatives knowing full well that the conservative party had a platform that included not changing Canada’s abortion laws. This group of backbenchers has tried to bring forth more than just this one motion to change the abortion laws. Why run as conservatives if you don’t believe in their platform on the issues? Why remain a conservative if you don’t believe in their stance on the issues? Could it be that you want them to help you get elected but you have your own agenda? How can that work if every MP has their own agenda on different issues and brings forth motions that contradict those proposed in the party platform during elections? Pretty soon you don’t have a united party and you certainly don’t have a party that stands behind the platform it run on and was elected on.

          • I agree with you. We don’t really know what they may have been told (ie once we have a strong stable majority, we can introduce different ideas) but going on what we can see, and what the prime minister says, it’s time for those who just cannot agree with their party stance to sit as indies. And let the chips fall where they may.

          • Oh, I think they were told that they could “vote their conscience” on issues such as abortion and gay marriage and they honestly believed that the rest of the party thought the way they do on this issues. They, like many on these blogs, believe that in order to be a fiscal conservative you must be a social conservative. That is completely untrue. Many who vote conservative are social liberals like myself. There is no Republican Party in Canada. If these guys want to be part of such a party, they need to start one themselves and like you say, “let the chips fall where they may”.

          • What do you supposed the PM would do if this faction suggested they would leave the party and sit as indies? Would he compromise to quell the dissent, or would he let them go?

          • Let’s see….I didn’t see Bob Rae or Mr. Mulclair inviting them to cross the floor. Why do you suppose that is? Hahaha…..I know why it is….they are a political liability. No one in the entire house except them wants to bring up sex-selection abortion. It is a political nightmare and it is an unnecessary debate given that in all probability the incidence of it in Canada is very low.
            What will Harper do? Sit and wait and do nothing. He will wait for the furor to die down. Will he compromise? Hmmm……he likes to look as though he is compromising but to be truthful, he has compromised by letting them bring their motions forth already. I don’t think they will ever be happy. They want abortion reform and that is it. Who knows next it will be gay marriage reform. No, I think he will invite them to leave if they cannot accept that their attempts thus far to change abortion law have been unsuccessful.

          • Let’s see….I didn’t see Bob Rae or Mr. Mulclair inviting them to cross the floor. Why do you suppose that is? Hahaha…..I know why it is….they are a political liability.

            That’s a pretty cynical way to frame it.

            I think that the reason that the Liberals and NDP don’t want to accept floor-crossers who are crossing the floor because the Tories aren’t socially conservative enough for them is not a political calculation so much as a philosophical calculation. There’s a pretty fundamental reason why the Liberals and NDP wouldn’t accept members who are too far to the right to stay with the Tory caucus.

          • Yes, exactly. It isn’t cynical. It is a fact. Mr. Warawa, etc. are “too far right to stay with the Tory caucus” and any other party that currently sits in the house. That is why the Tories don’t want him standing up and spewing his beliefs while pretending to be a Tory.

          • Fair enough.

            That said, if a member of one’s caucus is so out of touch with the party that it’s deemed dangerous to even let him SPEAK in the House of Commons then the PARTY ought to kick him out.

          • Why run as conservatives if you don’t believe in their platform on the issues?

            Indeed.

            Why DID Stephen Harper run as a Conservative?

  8. Is there any reason that the NDP or the Liberals couldn’t submit these MPs names on THEIR lists?

    It would certainly make a statement for one of the opposition parties to give a Tory MP the time to speak, even though they likely vehemently disagree with what he’s going to say, just because MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK IN PARLIAMENT.

    • Me like.

    • Didn’t the Liberals and NDP block his motion on sex-selection abortion yesterday? What makes you think they would want to give him the chance to speak about it today?

      • His motion was blocked in an all-party committee, and the Conservatives on the committee joined the Libs and NDP to make the block.

        • Yes, my point exactly. If I am not mistaken, this is the 3rd time Mr. Warawa has tried to forth a motion on abortion in parliament in a quest to change the current laws. He joined the conservative party knowing that the party had no plans to change the laws. The leader of the party announced this to the Canadian public and yet Mr. Warawa still ran as a conservative and gained a seat as a conservative MP using their platform to do so. He has been defeated in two previous bids to have motions supported to change abortion laws. Surely he should either leave the party because his desires and theirs don’t mesh or he should accept that the conservatives are not going to try change abortion laws in Canada. He has his own person crusade and he is using the legitimacy of a national party to try to accomplish it when the party never let him think that their platform would facilitate his desires.

      • The Liberals, the NDP and the CONSERVATIVES blocked his motion, technically. And, sure, maybe the other parties WOULDN’T want to give him the opportunity to speak that his own party wants to deny him.

        However, blocking a motion is different from blocking a member’s statement. It’s certainly not inconceivable to me that a party that might place barriers in front of a motion being tabled in the House on issue X might nonetheless want to support a member’s right to make a statement in the House on issue X. The two things are related, sure, but they’re not the same thing.

        • Come now…it isn’t just “technically”. The NDP and Liberals, along with the Conservatives in committee blocked the motion claiming it was too similar in content to the last motion on abortion that was brought forth and voted down. Mr. Warawa and the others have an agenda to bring as many motions forward on abortion as possible EVEN THOUGH they ran and were elected on a platform promising never to change the abortion law. If he and his friends are unhappy with their party whip and the party leader, QUIT THE PARTY! Then they can get up and speak as many times as an independent is allowed to and they can talk all they want about changing abortion laws.

          • Sure, it’s arguably more than a technicality that the Tories also shut down the motion, but doesn’t that just make it more odd that you only mentioned the Liberals and the NDP in your comment?

            I also still think that saying that MPs can only table motions that are permitted by their party is different from saying that MPs can only make statements in the House that are permitted by their party. I’m all for party discipline, but if we’re at the point where MPs can’t even disagree with their party in their Member’s statements then I think we’ve gone too far.

          • What I am saying is that if an MP disagrees with his/her party on fundamental issues and after raising those issues and being voted down, continues to plague the party and bitch and moan….it is time to leave the party.

            Why is this so hard to grasp? Maybe Warawa etc., should cross the floor and join the Liberals and start beaking off about abortion as Liberal MPs.

            Nobody questioned by the two NDP MPs didn’t stay in the NDP and bitch and moan about separation and Mulclair….No, they left the party because they disagreed with the party on a fundamental issue.

          • Further, the only reason I talked about the NDP and Liberals in my comment is that NO ONE wants to discuss sex-selection abortion. It is a political nightmare for every party and only Warawa and his ilk are too stupid to see it for what it is.

          • First off, not sure why it is a “landmine”. According to an article in NP: “It turns out that 60% of us, and 66% of women, think “there should be
            laws which outline whether a woman can have an abortion based solely on
            the gender of the fetus.” The poll has a margin of error of plus or
            minus 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.”

            If that is the case – almost 2/3rds of Canadians support a law on SS Abortion, 1 party should be able to capitalize on it.

            More to the point – this isn’t just about what is politically expedient. Societies with severe male/female gender imbalances aren’t good ones to live in.

          • Presumably, the Liberals wouldn’t have him.

            And if the Tories are so upset by him, why not kick him out rather than waiting for him to leave?

            Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all for social conservatives leaving the Tories. I miss vote-splitting on the right.

            (ETA: I also think that it must drive backbenchers nuts that when they disagree with party policy and want to say so they’re whiny rogues, whereas when the PM or a Cabinet minister disagrees with party policy they just ignore party policy and go ahead and do what they want to do. It was arguably ever thus, but it’s still gotta burn being ridiculed for defying party policy by people who regularly defy party policy).

  9. Page 423 of O’Brien and Bosc states very clearly: The opportunity to speak during Statements by Members is allocated to private Members of all parties. In according Members the opportunity to participate in this period, the Chair is guided by lists provided by the Whips

    The key word there being GUIDED. The Speaker is GUIDED by the lists, nor bound or beholden to them.

    • I think you have spotted the escape hatch. The CPC whip will offer to give up his “guidance” so long as …”the other parties agree to do the same…” This is the preferred method to spread the blame around, to imply that everyone was equally guilty of stifling backbenchers. They’ll even brag that “working together” they have found a way to safeguard the rights and privileges “of all Members.”

      This is the way that the CPC managed to back down on their near criminal abuse of “householders” or 10 per-centers, as they were called. Yeah, we’ll agree to stop robbing the taxpayers blind… “as long as the other parties agree that we were all doing it.”

  10. Funny, this topic was never a big issue during the years of Chretien’s iron-fisted rule. Having said that, the Reform Party (of which Stephen Harper was a founder) would have been very much on the side of Warawa and Benoit. When the Conservatives took power, the media and their opponents were just waiting for them to trip and fall flat on their faces. They were licking their lips at the thought of all the “crazy” things those yokels and loose canons were going to say. So it was only natural, and smart, for Harper to assert a lot of control. Well, the Conservatives have been in power a long time now. They’re not newbies any longer. Control by the PMO should have been gradually relaxed, but instead, it’s gotten tighter. There’s no excuse for it any more. This is not Reform policy, and it’s not good policy. It needs to change.

    • Have you ever wondered how the Chretien government was being questioned by the media and how that differs from how the media is questioning this government?

      You can bet on it that if the motion about selective abortion would ever make it to the floor, the media would have a field day proclaiming that the Harper government is trying to drive women back in alleys with coat hangers in hand.

      If Canadians and the media, generally speaking, could and would be as mature about these subjects as they should be, then Harper would probably have no objection to airing such motions as selective abortions. But a mature debate about selective abortions cannot be had, not yet, in this country. And Harper knows it. That IS the point.

      • The tradeoff of that approach for the CPC is to muzzle a significant portion of its caucus. Everyone knows Harper is telling those people to clam up for political reasons. It’s a question of how long those MPs will let their views take a back seat.

        • Exactly! That is the point being discussed here. What gives, right? But what should give is the immaturity of the country we call Canada. Time for Canada to grow up! That is my overriding point. How to achieve that? Well, by trying to set out a reasonable debate where one can be found. Thank you for this debate. Sounds reasonable enough to me.

          • Well, I’d argue that Canada simply isn’t a socially conservative place, as a whole. Whether they’re immature or not, they don’t want to have that debate. That’s reality. However, if the Conservative Party wants to count on the electoral/political support of socially conservative folks, they’re going to have to give them something in exchange for that support and risk losing the support of moderate voters; or, they have stay the course and risk eventually losing the support of SoCons. It’s a dilly of a pickle. Such is the dilemma of ‘big tent’ parties.

          • What, exactly, is so socially conservative about wanting to put a stop to selective abortions?

            Do you think all members of the LPC , NDP or Greens would be considered socially conservative if they would oppose the practice of selective abortion on the public dime?

          • Hey, I’m not a member of the Conservative Party. You need to have that discussion with your colleagues as to why they won’t touch this thing with a 10-foot pole. Whether you agree with my terminology or not, the reality is your party’s leadership won’t touch it.

          • Excuse me? This is discussion I should have with my colleagues? Which colleagues are you talking about?

            I find it disappointing that you are not willing to answer my last question posted. This one: “What, exactly, is so socially conservative about wanting to put a stop to selective abortions?”

            It is my understanding, correctly, that the subject of selective abortions performed on the public dime, are a matter of public concern, not just a concern for one political party or another. In fact, politics and political parties exist only because we are dealing with public issues to be dealt with.

            I had thought that you, of all people here on this board, would not use an excuse in order to avoid answering the question.

            Sorry for being so blind to the fact that indeed the people’s immaturity is so close at hand. Never saw that coming.

          • “It is my understanding, correctly, that the subject of selective abortions performed on the public dime, are a matter of public concern, not just a concern for one political party or another.”

            Then why is your party’s leadership so determined to prevent its MPs from bringing it up? Rightly or wrongly, the other parties don’t think it’s an issue, or they would have brought it up. It’s an issue for your party because your party can actually do something about it… but won’t.

            If you want to blame it on the immaturity of me and others, knock yourself out.

          • “Then why is your party’s leadership so determined to prevent its MPs from bringing it up”

            First of all, it is not my party. I do not have a membership in any party. If you do not trust me, please contact any party and ask them if I am on their membership list. I will tell you, just so you know, that if the Liberal party digs down deep enough, they will find a LPC membership in my name from years back.

            As I have explained in my previous post: if the media would treat Harper and his government just like the media had treated the previous Chretien government, then I don’t think Harper or his government would object to giving members of his party the floor to debate the selective abortion issue.

            But since so many, including many in the media, are not mature enough to consider legitimate questions on their own merrit, but rather take them as prejudiced because of party affiliation (MP’s ), then Harper is wise to not let his MP’s run individually into a trap, thereby putting the party in danger. No wise party leader would do as you suggest with a response to the abortion issue as it is now.

            Of course the other parties don’t think it is an issue. The other parties would prefer that the issue of selective abortions will not come to the floor because it my be their members who would have to be held in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. And then those party leaders would have to “muzzle’ their MP’s lest they be embarrassed. They rather have Harper stick with the embarrassing part. And maybe that is what you would prefer as well. That is your choice and I won’t take that away from anyone. But don’t try and convince anyone that the issue of selective abortions only concerns the CPC, because that would be trying to convince people under false premises.

            There, I’ve said it. And I’m not afraid of having done so either.

          • So… the Conservatives won’t touch this for purely political reasons, but at the core it’s the media’s fault that they can’t touch it. Interesting perspective. Do you think if you sent this explanation along to Mark Warawa, he might shut things down and be a team player? I’m skeptical myself. but you never know.

          • Actually, the other two parties don’t want to touch it either. They too have voted in committee to not let Warawa’s motion reach the floor of the House (did the media not report that fact clearly enough?).

            I am more interested in sending messages to the media so that they will do their jobs better instead of sending messages to Mark Warawa.

            Mark is free to do as he wishes. There are choices in life one takes. And choices come with not being able to go back to where one was before. Not for anyone and not for Mark.

          • Actually, he’s not free to do as he wishes… if he were, he wouldn’t have had to rise on a point of privilege. He had to stand up because his party wouldn’t let him talk about what he wanted to talk about.

          • Ah, but you want to take out of the equation that others are not to be part of the world in which Mark does the wishing.

            This world is full of humans who are free to do as they wish, under the circumstances which allow the wishing to be fulfilled. No one lives in a vacuum. For if we lived in a vacuum, Mark would not even have anyone to deliver his proposed motion to.

          • …Yoda?

          • Does Santa exist? Only if we suspend reality and we have collectively agreed to that will Santa remain in existence.

            Mark is not able to suspend reality. I can’t help that and neither can you.

            Look, Mark makes his choices but so do others. Mark is not alone in this world. And if he somehow believes he is then he shouldn’t worry about his motion or abortion because there would be no one to share it with. In such a world, others would be doing their thing in isolation. But what is the point of that?

          • Yeah, you lost me two posts ago. Unless you’re going to teach me the ways of The Force, I’m done here.

          • Yeah, I’m done here too, since you haven’t the slightest interest in answering the questions which are important in this whole discussion, namely the question regarding the selective abortions and how such questions should be shouldered by all political parties and the public at large.

            Perhaps one day Canada can be that force of maturity.

            Cheers.

        • Well to be fair, Mr. Warawa has brought forward motions to re-open the abortion debate 3 times now is it? Surely if your party caucus gets together and decides it isn’t going to challenge the current abortion laws and your leader announces this to the public, you as a politician should either: 1) get with the program and realize that your party isn’t interested in changing the abortion laws 2) change parties.

          • Was it the caucus who decided, or Harper? I really don’t know.

            I am interested to see if Warawa chooses 1) or 2).

          • Given that the entire caucus, as well as both opposition parties voted overwhelmingly NOT to open the abortion debate, I am guessing it wasn’t just Mr. Harper. However, these guys have been able to bring the motions into the house where they have been voted down. I have to say that I am a 50 year old woman who voted for this party because it made a promise NOT to change Canada’s abortion laws or gay marriage laws. This pledge not to change the abortion law or the gay marriage law has been in the party platform for all of the elections as far as I am aware so these MPs who keep bringing motions up to change the laws should not even be in the party. I believe they used the party to get elected and now want to further their own personal agendas. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they have run as independents on a pro-life platform?

          • Given that the entire caucus, as well as both opposition parties voted overwhelmingly NOT to open the abortion debate…

            I’m not sure that’s an accurate description of recent history. When Stephen Woodworth’s motion on striking a committee to determine when a newborn can legally be considered “human” went before Parliament in September, 80 Tories voted for it, including 10 cabinet ministers. That’s 49% of the Tory caucus, and 27% of Cabinet.

            Also, as I’ve mentioned, preventing an MP from tabling a motion on an issue is ENTIRELY different, imho, from preventing an MP from making a statement on issue X in the House of Commons.

          • The house voted it down with an overwhelming majority. Stephen Harper has told people to vote their conscience. Even voting their consciences, less than half of the elected conservatives want to immerse themselves in the quagmire of abortion issues in Canada. Given that the NDP would let Quebec separate with 50% plus 1, why isn’t this enough to give a big victory to pro-choice and put the issue to bed? Further, Mr. Woodworth and Mr. Warawa should leave the party if they don’t like the whip deciding who gets to speak for the party on a given day.

          • You’re missing the point of SO 31. These statements are for Members to speak, not for parties to speak. The PMO can decide who speaks “for the party” when the party is speaking but the PMO does not have the moral authority, or the parliamentary authority, to deny the rights of individual members to speak for themselves or their issues.. At least not yet. If Scheer chooses to give into the bullying of the PMO then future MPs will just have to work that much harder to regain the rights and privileges that are being hijacked at present.

          • The house voted it down with an overwhelming majority.

            Yes they did, but you said that the “entire caucus voted overwhelmingly to NOT open the abortion debate”, so unless you think that the vote on the Woodworth motion wouldn’t have opened the abortion debate then 51% of the Tory caucus is hardly “the entire caucus”.

            I also don’t like this notion that Member’s statements are somehow to be reserved for “speaking for the party”. Actual motions aside, if MPs can’t even make statements in which they disagree with their party, then what’s the point of having MPs? Why not just close down the House and have one representative for each party?

            I also don’t see how it’s consistent that in one instance the Tories are allowed to vote their consciences on an actual motion that would re-open the abortion debate, while in another instance a Tory MP isn’t even allowed to make a statement about the abortion debate. If 80 Tory MPs were allowed to vote on a motion regarding issue X, how is it that now a Tory MP can’t even make a statement on the floor regarding issue X?

            As for MPs leaving the party, sure, that’s an option. And it might be a palatable option for the Tories if it’s just the 3 or 4 MPs who have been particularly vocal on this issue who decide to leave. It’s another thing entirely if the 20 MPs who met to complain about this all decide to jump ship.

          • That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? 20 MPs is enough to form an officially recognized party, and so get the funding for research and staff that go along with that, not to mention the right to ask questions in the HoC.

            20 members would also be enough force the CPC into minority status.. which, if done before the budget vote, could force some *major* concessions from the CPC to keep Harper in power, because if there was a party on the right when it comes to social issues, his ability to maintain power becomes a hell of a lot less likely.

            Would they last? Well.. the Bloc started with only 8.. they went on to win 54 in their first election by addressing issues the other parties didn’t want to touch, and they’ve been around for over 20 years now.

          • In the medium term (maybe even the long term) the emergence of a new party in the House isn’t really a concern for the Tories though, I don’t think. I don’t think the social conservative wing of the party is large enough/strong enough to actually win seats in the House on their own. However, they may well be large enough to prevent the TORIES from winning a lot of seats. I used to be pretty sure that the vote splitting on “the left” was at a state now such that the Tories potentially had a pretty good run ahead of them. However, if the vote on the RIGHT starts splitting again things could get complicated quickly.

            The years between now and 2015 should be very interesting indeed!

          • I would be very interested to know if any of those who are now part of this relentless pro-life movement in parliament told their constituents that was there stance during the election.

          • The point is that the Tory MPs did vote their conscience on abortion law and still the motion was defeated. It is OVER! As a member of the party, it is time to accept that a MOVE ON! If you don’t want to do that, then leave the party and make your own party….the Pro-life Party of Canada.

          • Further, when has a member of either the NDP or the Liberal party gotten up and disagreed with their party? When the NDP MPs disagreed, they left the party.

  11. Is it not interesting?:
    1. The party that is repeatedly identified as one that must fall in line, has members standing up not to…
    2. The Conservatives have a far greater number of members who have voted against their party in this session, than the NDP…
    3. That when another ‘life-based’ issue was voted on, almost half of Conservatives voted against the leader’s wishes…
    4. That when this other ‘life-based’ issue was voted on, the NDP were whipped and told to vote the party line….
    Which party again is led and forced to fall in line like sheep?

  12. You know Wherry, it takes a lot of balls to ask questions about why the CPC has such tight messaging discipline one day after taking part in the lynch mob that surrounded Keith Ashfield over issuing a nice compliment to a young girl.

    If you don’t see the connection, you are in the wrong business.

    • spot on.

      The thing I wonder about this revolt is just what has been promised or implied (or perhaps even inferred) to the CPC MPs behind closed doors. Is it just this issue, or is this a tipping point?

    • Do you know what’s actually involved in a lynching? What you saw yesterday (and apparently today) was a bunch of twits twittering away on twitter. That is different from hanging by the neck until dead.

      • psst. I think he was being metaphoric.

        • A bad metaphor makes a bad argument worse.

        • Seemed closer to hysteric.

  13. Hmmm, Panda Bears vs the lives of Canada’s baby girls… I think I know which topic Parliamentarians are going to want to hear about every single time! In all seriousness, there’s reason to speak about both, but going this far to shut down debate over an issue as important as choosing to terminate a baby girl because she’s not a baby boy… well I wonder what history is going to say about all of us? To me, those of us who stand on the sidelines will share the blame like those who could have spoken against eugenics, or racism, or genocides, etc.

  14. If they believe their views are being withheld, leave the party and become an independent.

  15. How nice of Mr. Warawa to stand firm on an this issue. During most of his tenure in Parliament he has focussed nearly all his time on related issues that are dear to the heart of a smaller group of his constituents. He does however, have thousands of constituents who are not part of this favoured interest group, who would also like him to show some gumption and represent a concern dear to their hearts. Such as the issue of Jose Figueroa, a human rights activist who placed his life in danger to speak out against the death squads in El Salvador. The Conservatives want to deport this hero, after fifteen years in Canada. Yes, we have no place for heroes, but we do welcome foreign born Hell’s Angels. Mr Figueroa has a Canadian born child with autism, who needs the services Canada can provide. The Conservatives do not give a damn about this child. Mr. Warawa-it would be nice if you were as vocal in trying to save THIS child’s life and future.

  16. Oh at last! A Conservative MP with the guts to question PMO muzzling of MP’s. Thank you Aaron for pointing out this is more about control than the particular topic. Harper is the worst in a long line of Prime Ministers that have expanded the PMO and bent the way a Parliament is supposed to work. Honourable members should represent their constituents, not the PMO. The control is real and it is wrong. Why does the PMO need the following paid staff . . . Director of Communications, Director of Strategic Communications, Deputy Director of Communications and a Press Secretary? I even heard that MP’s receive daily directions on how to vote. I wish some media types would investigate that. Even committees are becoming more and more “us versus them” partisan. How can the best ideas come forward in this sort of atmosphere, you certainly could not run a business like this, let alone a country.

    Pay attention, Aaron is right. Ms May can speak out because she is not controlled by a party whip and a party leader. Mark Warwara has guts and so does Leon Benoit. I applaud them. The sad part is despite trying to represent those that elected them, they may not get their nomination papers signed in 2015 by the Prime Minister because they dared to speak out. The other party leaders were caught flat footed because they do the same things to control their members. The interesting thing is that they are not their members; they are our members.

  17. The response to the article and issue has lost the point. The point is: Does the caucus of a political party have the right to determine what is said in the House of Commons; further, what person or office has the right to determine which meber has the right to speak in the House of Commons? The particular topic is moot. Choose your pet issue of the day – it does not matter whether you agree or disagree with the point of view. The issue is free speech in the House of Commons. As it stands a individual who has been appointed (not elected) to a position (house leader, prime minister, party whip, and others) is determining what can be said by elected Members of the House.

    Who has the authority to determine whether an elected member of the house can speak in the house? I would suggest that the speaker has that right and the speaker may follow suggestions but is not bound by political party platforms.

    • Question: Does the number of members you have in the house determine how often your “team” gets to speak? For instance, how often does Elizabeth May get to speak v. the conservatives?

      • Firstly there are no ‘teams’. There are those who have gathered together to gain the confidence of the house. There are those who have not. Those that have are given the privileged to form government those that have not are called the opposition (Constitutional Democracy 101). Secondly the right to speak in the house is governed by the speaker. The groups (political parties) are given opportunity to speak in order of seats held in the house. This was Elizabeth May’s issue and every other opposition that has been in the house. This has nothing to do with the issue of allowing a member to speak. The quantity vs. quality argument. The government has more opportunities to speak (quantity) individuals has less (quality). So be it. Opportunity does not equal right.

        The issue to address is: Who determines who should speak in the house and the topic of that address. The speaker or the political party? Constitutional democracy will favour the former not the latter. Real politik of government will favour the latter not the former

  18. This issue is more black and white than it seems people are trying to make it. Statements by Members is an opportunity, very limited but there, for all MPs to have their say about something. All three larger parties submit names in order for the process to go more speedily as there are only 16 or so statements per session, and like everything else in our dysfunctional house speed is now of the essence. I would truely have loved to see the NDP give him one our their time slots even though they disagree with what they knew he wanted to say, simply to show that they believe no one should be muzzled in this time slot. It is not what he ewanted to say, but his right to say it, and the speaker has the abilility and power to shut him or anyone else off if they get way out of wack. He did once stop the member from the Yukon who was about to lie about the NDP leader and as he hasn’t done it since so I assume he got his knuckles rapped hard for that.

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