Stephen Harper vs. Mark Warawa

How to be a Conservative MP, but not part of the government


The Globe reports on yesterday’s Conservative caucus meeting.

The Prime Minister reminded his MPs he made a pledge to Canadians during the 2011 election: that his government would not reopen the abortion debate and that Conservatives wouldn’t bring forward legislation on the topic.

“He said he’s determined to keep his word to the people of Canada and he views this motion as tantamount to breaking the promise,” one source said. “He vowed he would use whatever tools are at his discretion to prevent the abortion debate from being reopened.”

There is a case to be made that any Conservative candidate who could not abide by a commitment to never reopen the abortion debate should have thus resigned. But there is also a distinction to be made here that excludes Mr. Warawa from the Prime Minister’s commitment.

Mr. Harper might have made his pledge at various points during the last campaign, but here is one version of the commitment.

“As you know, in our party, as in any broadly based party, there are people with a range of views on this issue,” Harper said. “But I think I’ve been very clear as party leader.… As long as I’m prime minister we are not reopening the abortion debate.” … “Very clearly I am against reopening that debate,” he said. “That is my position, now and in the past five years as well, and as long as I am prime minister, we will not reopen the debate on abortion. We will leave the law as it stands.”

Mr. Harper did not say, “As leader of the Conservative party, I will demand that anyone who runs under the party’s banner be committed to not reopening the abortion debate and I will seek to eject from caucus anyone who breaks this commitment.” He references his status as a party leader, but he says, “As long as I am prime minister, we will not reopen the debate on abortion.” He would seem then to have been speaking as the current and (potentially) future leader of the government. (If you watch the video above that story, you’ll hear him say that his “government” will not bring forward any legislation related to abortion.)

Is Mark Warawa part of the government? This, I suppose, depends on your definition. By the strictest definition, no. Here, again, is Brent Rathgeber’s assessment last month.

I understand that Members of Parliament, who are not members of the executive, sometimes think of themselves as part of the government; we are not. Under our system of Responsible Government, the Executive is responsible and accountable to the Legislature. The latter holds the former to account. A disservice is provided to both when Parliament forgets to hold the Cabinet to account.

Mr. Warawa is not part of the cabinet, he is an MP. He is a Conservative MP, but not a member of the executive. That distinction between the government and private members’ business is one that the Justice Minister seemed to assert last year when discussing Stephen Woodworth’s motion.

Indeed, if the Prime Minister’s commitment was to never allow a Conservative MP to ever bring forward anything that might “reopen” the abortion debate, it is a commitment he has already broken, twice—last year with Mr. Woodworth’s motion and three years ago with Rod Bruinooge’s bill.

So if Mr. Warawa’s motion crosses a line, where is that line drawn and when was it drawn? (And what happens if anyone else insists on crossing it?)

Update 12:06pm. The Conservative party of Canada policy declaration includes two references to abortion.

First, on Page 3:

7. Free Votes
The Conservative Party believes in restoring democratic accountability in to the House of Commons by allowing free votes.

i) All votes should be free, except for the budget, main estimates, and core government initiatives.

ii) On issues of moral conscience, such as abortion, the definition of marriage, and euthanasia, the Conservative Party acknowledges the diversity of deeply-held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of Members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.

Second, on Page 19.

62. Abortion Legislation
A Conservative Government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion.


Stephen Harper vs. Mark Warawa

  1. I’d love to know the answers to those questions too. Let’s say the motion gets through the committee and to the floor of the House of Commons. It surely gets defeated. Opposition howls, ‘your hidden agenda is showing.’ Harper and Co. shrug. Life goes on. Crisis averted.

    From a purely political (!) standpoint, I don’t understand why Harper is shutting it down so emphatically now when he let it slide before. Surely, the way he handled these kinds of motions when they came up earlier resulted in fewer headaches for him, didn’t it? I just can’t get my head around the change of tact now.

    EDIT: As per the updates above, his handling of the first two abortion-related motions appear to be in keeping with the Conservative Party policy declaration, but his handling of the latest (IMHO) is not. Interesting.

    • Well.. what’s happened between then and now?

      1 Another lackluster budget has come out, and this time it’s seemed the media is more aggressive with pointing out where the numbers aren’t matching the CPC press line.

      2. Penashue, Duffy. Wallin. Brazeau.

      3. Justin Trudeau is officially running and looks to have a very good chance to win his leadership bid.

      Of course, none of this will affect his base terribly much — he might lose a few, but they’ll probably just not bother to come out and vote, rather than vote for anybody else. But to maintain power, especially majority power, Harper needs more than just his base. He needs a fair sized chunk of the blue liberals that are out there — those fiscally conservative socially liberal types that we hear actually make up the bulk of the Canadian population.

      With the CPC reputation as stalwart managers of the economy starting to slip, and with his “We won’t let corruption slip by as the Liberals did” completely demolished, the prospect of an invigorated Liberal party becomes more attractive to the blue liberals, so the last thing Harper needs is to alienate them by seeming to be willing to play ball with socially conservative issues.

      Sure, he’ll piss off his so-con base, but they’re mostly in Alberta anyway and that’s a lock anyway, so no big deal. As for the so-cons in rural Ontario, I’m betting his internal polling has simply told him there aren’t as many of those as there are “just get the government the hell out of our lives” types.

      • I can get with that answer, at least the thrust of it. That said, I wonder if the blowback he’s getting from the backbenchers is more than he expected; further, while I think this is probably as bad as it’s going to get for him, it could get worse. Warawa et al, if their noises are that out of joint, they could make things worse. I can understand the risk vs. reward argument from Harper’s standpoint, but it could prove to be a more dangerous risk than he calculated. He’s pretty damn good at his calculations, though.

        • I read a report today that said MP Eve Adams described yesterday’s caucus mtg as “excruciatingly respectful,” which kind of makes it sound painfully awkward. But between pandas and that un-reopened abortion debate, we sure aren’t talking about the budget. Or the flailing economy. Or the angry Natives. Or Brazman, Duffster, et al.

          • Still seems like a fairly risky diversionary tactic, if that’s all that it is.

          • Or Justin Trudeau and his stand on issues. But perhaps it is better to replace Harper with someone who stands for not much. That way the leader will never get in trouble with anything. That is much better for the state of our democracy: electing a leader who will not say what he stands for. Long live democracy.

            Note to Harper: you say too much. Just say nothing and democracy will be saved.

          • I’m sure it’s a conspiracy of some sort, hatched by Harper, the Evil Puppet Master.

          • Such minor little details of any of Harper’s degenerates, are always ignored. Harper is the Great Dictator of his, Northern Foundation Party of 1989. He was Policy Chief and, those policies are with him right to this very day. Don’t forget? The backbenchers said nothing when, Harper was dictating to us. Now Harper dictates to them and, they squeal their heads off. However they also know, they don’t call Harper spiteful Stevie for nothing.

            Harper’s favorite henchman Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell, was exactly the very same way. Anyone opposing him, lost their jobs. He also lied and cheated to win his elections too. Harper rewarded him, the post as, High Commissioner to England, for doing his dirty work for him. Who says crime doesn’t pay? They should talk to Campbell and Harper? They are the masters of dirty tactics, lies, deceit, thefts and corruption.

          • Or the Liberal Mac Harb.

      • That’s one way to look at it. Another way might be that a little discussion in the House of Commons about abortion, that everyone pretty much knows is not going to go anywhere anyway, might have served as a nice little distraction from the budget, and Penashue, and Wallin, and Duffy and Brazeau…

        If this stays about abortion, and the 5 or 6 former Reformers who are truly passionate about this issue, then it likely won’t be a big problem. If it becomes an issue for the old Reformers from an accountability, transparency, democratic reform, “strengthening the role of Parliament and MPs” sense it could become a MUCH bigger deal. The question is, does this play out as primarily about the handful of Tory MPs who are strongly philosophically opposed to abortion, or does it become an issue about the 20-40 Tory MPs upset that their fellow MPs are being marginalized and silenced?

        • Wells’ Rule 1: For any given situation, Canadian politics will tend toward the least exciting possible outcome. (It won’t be a big problem.)

          • That’s probably true.

            That said, I was interested to see in Coyne’s recent piece that the 20 or so Tory MPs who met to talk about this issue have been meeting to complain and commiserate over the stifling of MPs and the centralizing of control in the PMO for over a YEAR now.

            I think the abortion issue itself isn’t a danger, and I respect Wells’ rule, but if frustration is really building on the back benches, and it goes well beyond abortion, I still think that could be a problem for the government.

          • I think, if nothing else, all this has the potential to make the rank-and-file less enthusiastic to do all those little things a party needs to do to be successful. It happened to the Liberals over time. If even the party faithful think things are turning into a sh*tshow, things go sideways.

          • Most of it depends on how all of this gets reported on. The media can not play partisan politics with this either.

        • And it distracts from Justin not having to come up with anything of substance so far. Martha Hall Findley was saying as much two days ago on P&P. In fact she said it twice perhaps hoping that someone in the media might take notice, since P&P certainly didn`t when glossing it over.

          Perhaps Wherry can do an inner in dept look of what Ms.Hall Findlay was talking about………………..

          • You’ll think this is just partisanship I’m sure, but I for one don’t mind when journalists focus more of their attention on the Prime Minister and the government of the day than they do on the person who looks likely to soon become the leader of the third place party in the House.

          • Seriously, I have no problem with anyone who wants to report on the PM. But this in-dept, deep, deep analysis of who said what and when and how and why would best be left for the party to figure out, not…………………

            I mean, did you ever read this kind of analysis when Chretien sold his hotel or Inn and the bank official resigned over Chretien`s lies but couln`t be proven, (well, you know how Chretien delivers a proof) and so forth.

            Always Harper, All. Of. The. Time. That is not objective journalism.

          • I’d say there was plenty of negative coverage of Chretien when he was in office, but even that aside, if they didn’t cover Chretien enough, and now they’re covering Harper a lot, isn’t that an improvement?

            It seems to be that the Tories and their supporters were all about demanding better of the governing party prior to 2006, and ever since then they’ve been all about complaining that everyone is demanding better of them.

          • No, what I am saying is that when Chretien was in power, the balance was off but not off in a sense that silly in dept analysis ensue time and again, zeroiong in on such minutes of when and why and where, and when again, and why again, unending, WITHOUT trying to show a perspective of what the involvement is of the other parties in this sort of dispute.

            Some balance, please. Always!

          • I don’t ever remember Chretien, giving Canada to Communist China, does anybody? There are actually very few Politicians in this country, worth the powder to blow them to hell.

            I don’t ever remember, tax payers buying houses for the P.M. minions? Nor, a stupid $1 billion fake lake. $50 million, to buy a riding with gazebo’s? I don’t know why, Harper gives the wealthiest outfits in the world, $60 billion in tax reductions? Not only once either.

            I wonder why, Harper’s Omnibull-S-Bill gives Red China the right to sue, any Canadians getting in China’s way?

          • I can’t see Justin nor Mulcair giving Canada to Communist China? I just can’t see anyone else being that stupid.

      • This is well-stated and, IMO, a pretty accurate synopsis.

      • “he’ll piss off his so-con base, but they’re mostly in Alberta anyway”
        That’s just an incredibly ignorant comment. What evidence do you have that Albertans are any more socially conservative than, say, Ontarians or Newfoundlanders? Abortion is just as legal and available in Alberta as anywhere else. The most prominent anti-abortion MP in Ottawa for many years was Tom Wappel, who was from, umm, Scarborough. That’d be Scarborough Ontario. The latest dust-up on abortion comes from an MP from the Fraser Valley, you know, Langley.

        • Evidence?
          The Wild Rose Party

          • Evidence? The BC Conservative Party. Evidence? Tim Hudak and Mike Harris. Ernst Zundel — another proud Ontarian. And so on.

          • How many MLAs does the BC Conservative Party have in place again? Oh.. that’s right.. zero.

            Individual so-cons mean basically nothing at an electoral level, and I assume you’re intelligent enough to know this.

            Alberta is the only province where there is enough support for a party to the right of conservatives, which proudly championed some so-con policies, to be able to run and garner a significant number of seats in the legislature.

            But I’m sure you’re aware of this, so I’m curious as to what’s got your back up here.

          • You’re making this utterly facile assumption that social conservatism is THE reason that some Albertans support Wildrose. And THE reason that Albertans cast a vote. Have you got any evidence for that? I doubt it.
            Unless you can come up with some reliable, objective statistical evidence that, e.g., shows that a larger percentage of Albertans opposes abortion compared to any other province, then I say you’re talking out of your butt.
            And remember your exact words “so-con base . . . they’re mostly in Alberta”. That’s so inaccurate in so many ways. There are more federal Conservative MPs from Ontario than there are from Alberta. There are more Conservative party members from Ontario than there are from Alberta.
            But I realize that the progressive Liberal thing to do is blame Alberta for everything that’s wrong with Canada and to have a constant, congential hate-on for Alberta and Albertans, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Justin T would approve.

          • You seem to be confusing the idea that suggesting most of Harper’s so-con base is in Alberta is equivalent to suggesting most of Albertans are so-cons. I never argued the latter.

            Your example of federal conservative MPs is actually a counter-argument, when you consider that they only got elected under a platform where abortion was not to be discussed — it’s not causation, of course, but certainly the possibility of correlation exists.

            And if you think I blame Alberta for everything that’s wrong with Canada, you haven’t been paying attention, but I realize that the orson bean thing to do is to put words into other people’s mouths when you can’t make an argument on its own merits.

          • But what do mean by “most of Harper’s so-con base is in Alberta”? The logical inference from that is that you’re asserting that NUMERICALLY, of the social conservatives that reside within the Conservative Party of Canada, most of them are from Alberta (meaning at a minimum, 50% +1). I humbly submit that that is statistically and mathematically highly improbable, given the way Canada’s population is distributed. Think about it. There are lots and lots of CPC members from BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario (Big time), never mind everywhere else. Yet you’re still going to cling to the assertion that of all of those members, if you take the ones that are socially conservative, the majority of THEM are from Alberta? Over 50%? Really? How do you get there numerically? Have you got a shred of empirical or mathematical proof for this seemingly improbable assertion?

          • BC???? The words Conservative or Liberal mentioned in BC, will get you run out of town on our BC Railroad… er…that is, if Harper’s henchman Gordon Campbell hadn’t thieved and sold it.

          • Perhaps you should wipe that foam from the sides of your mouth, it’s distracting.

          • It is fully meant to be. We have very long memories in BC. We have forgot nothing.

          • Umm, I live there too, so please don’t wag your finger and purport to tell me what British Columbians think.

          • Why are the FN so afraid of accountability?

          • OK I will play your silly little game. Why are the F.N. afraid of accountability?

          • The point is that you are a First Nation Troll posting a bunch of lies and nothing more. Hatred is not valid or reliable. Why are you so afraid of accountability?

          • But OrsonBean, you are using reason to try and let him see the light of day. But trying to let them see by means of reason is not possible here on these boards. Reason is not welcome here because it is not fully understood and they are the one’s not fully understanding so trying to bring in reason would be considered an attempt by you to undermine their points right from the get-go and then where would they be? No where, and they want so very much to be able to stay here, day in, day out, to do look for whatever it is they are looking for but to reason ain’t it.

          • Personally, I find it adorable that OrsonBean is demanding “reliable, objective statistical evidence…” It seems that Mr. Bean is a fairweather friend to reality.

          • Yes, I constantly display hallucinatory-level detachment from reality in my posts, and a complete lack of knowledge of any facts whatsoever. I’m a very stupid person who constantly gets facts wrong and has a laughable lack of knowledge of current events. You’re very right to upbraid me for that.

          • Finally, something we agree upon.

          • You can give him the exact truth. However, like most shifty Cons he uses attacks, instead of checking it out to see if we are right. He is just another Con who shoots his mouth off, before his brain is in gear.

          • You people are a joke! Read what you and Thwim and TJCook just came up with to counter OrsonBean……………..

            You people (and many in the media) are so used to spouting nonsense about Alberta, and you repeat it so often, that you now believe it to be true. Lies made into truth by simply repeating the lies and then asking the one who is telling the truth to prove that your lies are not lies.


          • Yes, I’m a “shifty Con” who believes in legal and taxed marijuana, legal and regulated prostitution, vigorous gun control, unrestricted access to abortion, who opposed Harper’s GST cut, elimination of the log form census, etc. etc. I think you’re the one who’s got a problem comprehending reality.

          • Goddamn you’re a cantankerous bastard.

            Good to see you back.

          • They, as so many others, no longer care about what Alberta and Albertans are like. The Thwims and JTCooks and company have a great deal of friends here on these comment boards and they just keep repeating the same none sense in order to avoid talking about the real world.

            Now it is up to you to prove to them that their lies are not lies and when you have proven it many times over, they want you to prove it again so that their ignorance is not the subject being talked about.

            Pathetic but true. And now they will go hard at work to make that into a lie as well so that they can throw that back in my face in order to not have to look at themselves, again, always and so forth.

          • If you think the Wildrose Party is evidence of more social conservatism in Alberta, then you don’t know much about the Wildrose Party.

            Or Alberta, for that matter.

        • Dude, I see your Tom Wappel and raise you a Myron Thomson.

          • And I raise you a Charles McVety. From Ontario.

      • There is chatter about, leaving Harper, Ottawa and Alberta on their own. Let them do as they please. There are those who are pissed off about, their resources, resource jobs, being given to China. There are Provinces who don’t want to be swallowed up, by China. We would be better off, keeping our resources, resource jobs and our tax dollars for our own people. The paying for houses for Harper useless minions, really pissed people off. Many people absolutely hate Harper’s Canada. This country isn’t our Canada anymore anyhow. This Canada is a, cesspool of corruption.

        • Yes, people are fleeing Harper’s Canada in droves because it’s such an awful place. Meanwhile, nobody, but nobody, from anywhere else in the world wants to come to Canada anymore.
          I’m not making this up.

          • My son is an Electronics Engineer. He is a S.C.A.D.A. operator. An Instrumentation expert. All aspects of I.T. A Field Engineer for both oil and gas fields. Fully qualified to work in refineries. He took everything he was advised to take, for a decent living. I told he and his University friends to apply overseas, there is nothing in this country for them. They have huge student loans. They were hoping for good paying resource jobs. Anyway it didn’t take them long to find out, I was right. They are now busy applying overseas.

            China is permitted to bring over their skilled workers. They work for $800 per month. Even our own skilled Trades people, are not getting those jobs. 300 BC miners applied for the 200 mining jobs, Harper gave to Communist China.

          • If the son has inherited any of the bitterness and false drama from the father, I wouldn`t hire him to gopher coffee.

          • Why hire hinotes if one can hire a parrot…………………a parrot is colourful, at least.

          • Cracker, cracker, Polly wants a cracker!

    • The other abortion motions were not centered on sex-selection abortion. Sex-selection abortion is seen as undesirable by a large majority of Canadians. Therefore, it is not politically adept for MP to be seen to be voting “in favor” of it. The real issue is that sex-selection abortion is likely not even occurring in an significant numbers in Canada and can be controlled through the health-care system. A law is not required. Harper knows this. None of the political parties want this motion brought to the house. Only these few MPs with a focus on outlawing abortion in Canada as a agenda want to see it done.

      • This was a motion – a vote to condemn the practice. It would change no laws. A lot of people seem to be missing that.

        • Remember when the House voted to condemn Macleans for hurting the feelings of a mascot?

        • All party leaders know that. They should not be missing the point. Yet, all parties sitting on the committee have voted not to let the motion come to the floor.

          What sort of game are the leaders of the LPC and NDP playing when they are well aware that the motion would change no laws………………………………

          • Yeah, I’m not happy with any of them for that. If they want to vote against the motion, fine; vote away. But don’t abuse the committee process and block the motion without grounds just because you don’t like the topic.

          • Thank you for saying that.

            I just wish Wherry or any other reporter would focus in on that as well. Canadians have a right to know that other party leaders can be sneaky and EVIL too…………..:)

      • A law is not required.

        As Keith has pointed out, no law was proposed.

      • “The real issue is that sex-selection abortion is likely not even
        occurring in an significant numbers in Canada and can be controlled
        through the health-care system. A law is not required.“

        That is your opinion. Make it a fact by given us the proof.

  2. “But I think I’ve been very clear as party leader.… As long as I’m prime minister we are not reopening the abortion debate.”

    Yes, THAT sentence leaves a lot of uncertainties in place.

    • The statement is pretty unambiguous, yes.

      The problem is that time back in September when the Tories DID re-open the abortion debate.

      Sticking doggedly to a promise that you made is a less impressive/useful stance when it’s done 6 months after you already broke the promise.

      • Actually it was these Tories who opened the debate and remember they don’t consider themselves part of the government, even though by getting elected, their seats allowed their party to form the government.

        • “These Tories” (the ones before Warawa) opened the debate with the acquiescence of the party leadership, and had Cabinet Ministers not only defending their right to do so, but voting in favour of their motions.

          • No fair being logically consistent!

          • :-)

            I learned long ago that it’s unfair to compare the actions and rhetoric of pre-2006 Harper to post-2006 Harper as though they’re the same person, and I really shouldn’t.

            However, now I have to shift my perspective, as it’s now apparently unfair to compare the actions and rhetoric of the Tories from September of 2012 to the actions and rhetoric of the Tories from March of 2013.

            At this rate, by the time of the election in 2015 it will be considered unfairly partisan to hold any Tory to anything they’ve said more than an hour before the present moment.

          • That’s the goal, anyway.

          • Are you saying it wasn’t a private members motion?

          • Further, you just admitted that this poor, misunderstood backbenchers haven’t really been stiffled at all. They have had the opportunity to bring the same damn motion forth several times so your claims that they are frustrated are kind of bullshit.

          • No one’s been allowed to bring this latest motion forward.

            Heck, they’re not even allowed to talk about how it hasn’t been brought forward in the House!

          • Of course it was a private members bill, but it was a private members bill that was allowed to go forward. Then, Tories were allowed to vote on it, and 49% of the Tory caucus and 27% of the Cabinet voted in favour of it.

            The point is, in September it was apparently perfectly fine to bring forward an abortion-debate re-opening bill, and it was even fine for Tory cabinet ministers and backbenchers to vote in favour of it. Now suddenly a private members bill on abortion CAN’T be brought forward, and the MP whos bill was stopped can’t even complain about that on the floor of the House using his time for his member’s statement, supposedly because of the Tories’ promise not to re-open the abortion debate. So, if it’s essential for the Tories to keep that promise now, why wasn’t it similarly imperative back in September?

            As I’ve said, “We need to keep our promise to voters” might be a legitimate reason to stop private members bills and to stifle MP statements, but isn’t the persuasiveness of that rationale diminished somewhat if the government’s current actions are designed to ensure that they keep a promise that they ALREADY BROKE?

      • I feel like for the first time in my adult life, I am constantly hearing and talking about abortion in the past year. Good thing it wasn’t reopened, or just think how much we’d hear about it! Sometimes I wonder if they don’t think that if they keep bringing it up, if we keep hearing the word, it will grind us down to acceptance that it already is reopened so we might as well go in and tinker with it. Sex selection is a red herring to keep it open, just as trying to legally define when life begins.

        • But your opinion on the matter does not make it so that other people or members of the House cannot have their opinions on it. I think that if the question on SSAbortion was simply put to the public at large, that the vast majority would be opposed. Only when the question would NOT be clear, would the answers be different.

          But if you accuse one party of trying to slip some things in through the back door, than certainly you would be objective enough to admit that all parties have something to gain for muddling the abortion issue……………………………..

      • Yes but didn’t these same backbencher Tories who are claiming that they are being stiffled bring up abortion as private member motions? Further how can they claim NOT to be part of the government when the seats they won allowed the government to become the government?

        • Yes but didn’t these same backbencher Tories who are claiming that they are being stiffled bring up abortion as private member motions?

          Yes, and nobody stopped them.

          However, now, suddenly, the party has to stop them because they promised to stop them, and they plan to keep that promise (you know, except for those times that they didn’t). Not only did the party not stop Woodworth’s motion, Cabinet Ministers defended his right to bring it forward. Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice on Woodworth’s motion: “Mr. Speaker, the government’s position has been very clear. Unlike the NDP, we do not muzzle our members as that party now does. The bill will be debated as all private members’ bills are debated” (You know, except when they aren’t). Someone really needs to explain why way back in September it was important not to muzzle MPs, and to allow private members motions to proceed (and to be voted on in a free vote) even if it meant re-opening the abortion debate, but now, 6 months later, the same thing has to be stopped, because the Tories promised not to re-open the abortion debate. This insistence that the Tories are simply steadfastly and honourably refusing to break a promise that they ALREADY BROKE is ludicrous as far as I’m concerned.

          The question of how to define “government” is a tricky one, as Wherry points out, but there’s a long tradition of backbenchers who are members of the party in power not considering themselves members of “the government” per se, and seeing their role as holding the executive to account, same as any opposition MP. In particular, the importance of the power and role of individual Members of Parliament was always an important issue for the old Reform Party, and it’s THAT philosophical commitment of the old Reformers, not the abortion issue itself, that’s the real danger for the Tories today, imho.

          • Well said!

          • I understand the people on here and the issue of their dislike for Harper. I just can’t believe that you guys don’t understand that this has nothing to do with backbenchers freedom to speak out and everything to do with the topic they want to speak out on. Why do you think Stephan Dion stopped it in committee? Do not be naive. No MP wants to be seen supporting sex-selection abortion even if it just in a debate. Sex-selection abortion is reviled by Canadians. Whether it would become a law or not is moot. Discussing in the house gives people the impression that it is a concern in Canada. That opens a pandora’s box that no one but the pro-lifers want to open. You think it is about partisan politics and earning points off one another. Well then, bring it on but be careful what you wish for.

  3. This is on my Christmas list this year:

    I wish for Wherry to dish out to the Liberals and NDP what he daily dishes out to the CPC.

    I do not want Wherry to let the Liberals and NDP starve to death.

    Please, Santa, deliver me those goods.

    • The NDP and Liberals have no power to change things; the CPC does. It therefore make more sense to focus most of one’s attention on what the government is actually doing rather than on what the opposition might do years from now.

      That’s not to say the other parties should be ignored; it’s just that any sensible balance of focus would naturally be mostly on those in power – regardless of political stripe.

      • In fairness, the Liberals have been awfully gun-shy about this issue. While Francien is wishing for a Christmas Epiphany from Aaron Wherry, I’m kind of hoping that this issue could ‘cross the floor’ and have all backbenchers step up a little and start to exercise the power they’ve been given rather than just sit in the back of the class with their heads on their desks.

        If we keep up the way we are going, the Parliament is going to become as irrelevant as the Senate in the actual governance of the country. We have one chamber of irresponsible free-loaders already do we really need another?

        C’mon backbenchers – Step it up. You don’t have all the power in the world but you have a hell of a lot more than you choose to use. Quit coasting, ya bums.

        • I suspect the Libs are keeping their heads down until the new leader is officially elected and they have a better sense of the direction he wishes to move in.

          At least, I hope that’s all there is to it…

          • As being so proposed by the CPC free standing MP’s:

            “The Liberal member for Papineau expressed concern about empowering
            members of Parliament. I am sure many will no doubt be deeply
            disappointed if he does not intervene on this point to urge you to
            empower MPs in this matter now that the opportunity has arisen for him
            to do so.”

      • Does that mean that the opposition parties cannot be considered inconsistent……or what is Wherry trying to prove here in the above write-up.

        What the opposition might do years from now…………………………………their inconsistency is setting a trap for the CPC each and every day………are you really that naive to believe that the opposition`s conduct has no bearing on what takes place in the House or what is written about in the news…………………….you are asking for balance……………not asking to be taking in by the opposition and their tactics.

        Everything hangs together, always, whether you or Wherry like it or not.

        • The opposition’s one true job is to hold the government to account. If they are smart, they will also try to present themselves as the government-in-waiting, but it is not required in order to do their job.

          If the government can’t be consistent, then it follows that, in order to do their job properly, the opposition parties in turn may at times have to be inconsistent. It’s what happens, Alice, when you follow the CPC white rabbit down that hole…

          • And the media`s job is to be objective.

            At least I think so.

            And that`s why I put on my Christmast list that which I want most.

            (If memory serves me well, I cannot recall Macleans doing that much analyzing of one`s man`s actions and speeches given when Chretien was in trouble over that hotel, or what was it again. Would have remembered better if Macleans would have presented us with a deep deep analysis of Chretien`s now and thens, picking apart his words matching the money transfers and the secrecies kept secret and the bank manager saying something and Chretien saying something else……………………..perhaps we could have an analysis or two about what Ignatieff had said before or after he returned to the US and the standing in front of university students, because if I remember correctly, that is what the CPC had predicted he would do…………….a deep deep analysis on that one would be priceless)

          • Yadda yadda. Wherry offers opinion. That’s what he is paid for. You want straight news or a different opinion, then look elsewhere.

          • Let`s all sing from the same songbook now:

            Harper bad.

            Harper evil.

            Harper bad.

            Harper evil.


            Liberals: no comment
            NDP: no comment.

    • Oh, the whining.

      Every once in a while, an issue will come along that will divide a political party. It happens to all of ’em. Right now, abortion is causing headaches for the Conservatives. Inconvenient for those who’d like to see the Conservatives never have to deal with a political headache, but such is life. Let’s dial the clock back a few years, when the Conservatives were scrapping the gun registry. That issue divided the NDP and, to some extent, the Liberals. It was widely covered and commented on.

      While we understand you’d like this all to go away, just like the NDP wished the gun registry business would go away, it ain’t. It’s not a media thing. It’s just a sh*tty thing happening to your party. It’s not Wherry’s fault. Take solace in the fact that this, too, shall (probably) pass.

      • “Right now, abortion is causing headaches for the Conservatives“ I beg to differ. I think if Wherry were to dig as deep as he is digging here, that the abortion issue could deliver quite the headache for the opposition parties as well. But that is my point: Wherry`s (and other`s) in dept analysis of the current situation about MP`s independence without mentioning the fact that this issue can give the opposition parties a huge headache as well, actually makes sure that the issue of abortion will NOT become an issue for the opposition to be concerned about.

        As long as Wherry (and other`s) don`t include the opposition`s stand on this, those opposition parties don`t have to worry about it. Well played Wherry, Mulcair and Rae.

        • In other words, you can’t change the fact this sh*tty thing is happening to your party, so Plan B comes into effect: blame the media for not covering the story fairly, so we can talk about that instead of the sh*tty thing happening to your party. Smart, really.

          • Hey, I am willing to have the SS Abortion debate! Perhaps you do too.

            But I know for certain that the Liberals and the NDP and the CPC leaderships do not want to have this debate because the debate could backfire on all three leaders and they know it. I think you know it too (call it a guess if you will), and therefore you try to talk me down as being a deflector of real issues.

            I’m not the one to fall for your double-take on smarts. Try and fool someone else.

          • Actually, it may just be a natural, knee jerk defence mechanism on your part rather than some kind of calculated thing. You are a deflector, but it’s entirely possible you’re not aware you’re doing it.

            So we have an actual revolt in one party, but the media should be covering the non-revolt in the other parties? Even the Sun isn’t spending time on that… because it’s not a story.

            I’m all for having that motion come to the floor. I don’t give a rats ass about the fallout for any of them. But right now, it’s a problem for the Tories. Simple as that.

          • And it’s gottabesaid – still doing the deflecting again. I am not gonna fall for your tactics.

            If you don’t think that the opposition parties should be questioned more on this, then fine by me. It is my opinion that the media should be more objective on this and not form part of the fuel to throw onto the flames.

            Hey, dissect Harper and the CPC all you want. I’m saying that a clear picture cannot be painted in isolation. The opposition parties are playing into this just as much as anything else. It all hangs together. That is reality.

          • The other parties haven’t changed tact on this. They’ve handled these motions the same way all along. It’s the Conservative leadership that has made this a story by having that motion quashed and Warawa silenced. They’ve drawn the spotlight on themselves. I understand this spotlight is uncomfortable… but there’s no media conspiracy on this. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle by blaming the media.

          • You know what might be really uncomfortable for you (and others perhaps)?

            To hear the answer of the Liberal and NDP member sitting on that committee which voted down to have the motion presented in the House. Twice!

          • Ummm… because they don’t want to reopen the abortion debate…? Yeah, that doesn’t make me uncomfortable, and it’s not news. You’re not going to make the opposition wear this! It just ain’t there! Give it up! Don’t sweat it, i bet you guys will get past this in a week. Maybe there’ll be a big NDP carbon tax development you can jump on to get this channel changed.

          • Thank you. Now I do understand. You are thinking that my request for balanced reporting is really just a front. You really think that I am pretending to want objective reporting.

            Sorry to leave you with that impression.

          • When the reporting has been objective, it’s the only impression I can have. The only thing I’m not sure on is whether your attempts to distract are willful or some kind of unconscious thing.

          • It could be the unconscious thing to do to block out the fact that the Liberal and NDP MP’s in committee also did NOT want the motion to go to the floor of the House.

            Or maybe you think that truth goes away if you wish for it to go away, or if you don’t hear much about it in the news, or…………..

            there aren’t any of the opposition MP’s standing up in defiance of letting their own MP’s do the shutting down of the presentation of a motion by private members bill.

            Seems to me that the real news not reported on is the fact that the opposition MP’s don’t dare to stand up to tell Canadians that their own MP’s are shutting down private members motions to reach the floor!

            The CPC is not hiding about the facts:

            “The Liberal member for Papineau expressed concern about empowering
            members of Parliament. I am sure many will no doubt be deeply
            disappointed if he does not intervene on this point to urge you to
            empower MPs in this matter now that the opportunity has arisen for him
            to do so.”

    • Santa will indeed deliver you the goods that you desire – but be aware that the goods will be a part of a larger package (and I suspect that you will not like the other elements of the package). Also, you will have to wait a few years for delivery.

      • Ah, look who’s back!

        Come on, you don’t really think that I believe in Santa?

        That was part of the joke!

        • To be honest, often times I’ve got no clue what you are getting at, so par for the course, it seems.

          • You’re not getting me could be your problem, not mine.

            In any case, this isn’t really getting to me.

            Not that difficult to follow, really. It’s all just a matter of interpretations.

          • Har!
            Your 4 short sentences have only muddied the waters even further!
            As I said, par for the course. ;-)

          • “The Liberal member for Papineau expressed concern about empowering
            members of Parliament. I am sure many will no doubt be deeply
            disappointed if he does not intervene on this point to urge you to
            empower MPs in this matter now that the opportunity has arisen for him
            to do so.”

          • Huh?

  4. So Harper is saying you can’t represent your constituents ?? you can’t speak to issues in your riding unless he approves? There have been numerous issues in Langley where Mark has not been allowed to speak on because of Tory handlers in Ottawa….whats the point in having a MP?

    • Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation Party of 1989. He is an old Reformer Dictator. Not even Scientists were permitted to publish their papers. Harper finally fired, all of Canada’s top Scientists. Harper did not permit any bad publicity regarding, the dirty tar sands. Everything has to go through Harper first. He is supreme ruler, no-one is permitted to have their own opinion. Harper sets their opinions for them and, they are not to deviate from them.

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