Mother of all debates -

Mother of all debates


The Conservatives have decided they will vote against today’s Liberal motion because a) it is “a transparent attempt to reopen the abortion debate” and b) it is critical of the George W. Bush administration.

The House is presently debating the matter.


Mother of all debates

  1. During the debates, can an MP not move a motion to amend the original motion (such that the Conservatives could remove the failed right-wing ideologies previously imposed by the George W. Bush administration in the United States)? I see no reference to abortion in the motion, and certainly can't see how this opens up a debate on that subject.

    • The entire motion is a poison pill for the government. There's nothing in it for them to tinker with it.

      • You're right, but I sincerely wish that the difficult debates that we so richly need and deserve to have in this country aren't stymied because they could be someone's poison pill.

        • Paul Martin campaigned on removal of the 'not withstanding clause' so as the evil Reform/Alliance/Conservatives could not take away a women's right to have an abortion……..
          Same with healthcare,
          the Liberals demonized Alberta and Stockwell Day on 2 tier healthcare.

          Liberals are now wanting honest debate?

          • I can't speak for Liberals, because I'm not one. I'm a private citizen who cares about having discussions that are important to the nation.

    • "…must include the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options…"

      "Full range" includes abortion. They just don't want to use the word.

      The reference to Bush also implies it, since contraception was not barred to NGO's receiving US aid while abortion was.

  2. The last part of the Liberal motion was indeed Bush-bashing, and the tories are right to criticize it on those grounds. It's their prerogative to vote against it, but I'd much rather see any party:
    a) rephrase the motion to argue the point on substance, not anti-Americanism; and
    b) not shy away from the abortion debate on the grounds that it's scary.

    I got over the fear of monsters under the bed at age 7, it's high time our grown men and women of the house did the same.

    • It is Bush bashing, but is that anti-American? Not in my book.

      • President represents the country. If you bash President, you are bashing Americans. Same is true for every country.

    • Pssst! I'll let you in on a little secret: George W. Bush is no longer the President of the United States.

    • "The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey says 74 per cent of Canadians surveyed believes the government should provide contraception under Harper's plan. Only 21 per cent were against the idea. However, 48 per cent said the government should not provide funding for abortion, and 46 per cent said it should." CTV, March 23, 2010

      "For many years, Harris Decima pollster Allan Gregg has asked respondents whether they consider themselves conservatives, liberals or centrists, and he's also asked them how they vote. In recent years, he told the Manning Centre conference, the number of self-identified conservatives has been growing ………….

      Gregg found that 89 per cent of respondents, nearly everyone, agrees that “nothing is more important than family.” Sixty-seven per cent agree that “marriage is, by definition, between a man and a woman,” 60 per cent that “abortion is morally wrong.” Macleans, March 19, 2010

      What's even more infuriating/vexing is that Cons have lots of Canadians behind them supporting their ideas but are unwilling to join battle. These bunch of Cons are a meek bunch who need some spine stiffening lessons from Margaret Thatcher.

  3. As worded, the motion is a waste of time. These games don't help anything, and worse yet give the Conservatives ample justification to tune out legitimate concerns.

    As much as I despise our current government, I can't say the Liberals are offering much of an alternative. Nor are they serving the people by offering a particularly intelligent or honourable opposition.

    • I want to amend that. The motion is a waste of time. Full stop.

      If the opposition is unwilling to stand behind the motion demanding detainee documentation, it's safe to assume the current one is similalry hollow. Abusing this process only serves to further erode the legitimacy and authority of Parliament.

      • Er, this is oging off-topic, but did you miss the opposition party raising 3 points of order asking the Speaker to find the government in contempt if they dont turn over the docs?

        That isnt exactly them being "unwilling".

        • You mean at the same as Iggy was muddying the waters by calling for a public inquiry and not simply saying the Iiacobucci ploy was a dodge, pure and simple? Sucking and blowing.

        • Report in if the Speaker rules in favour of contempt charges…..until then, all I see is LibDippers looking for the closest exit on this self inflicted wound.

      • with Sean again fully on this. if this is the level of strategic inspiration held by Iggy and Donolo the country is in a mess. the Chretien years adequately demonstrated how bad it is for the country when there is not suitable opposition. gawd.

    • Sad, but true. Welcome back, Sean!

  4. Watching the current version of the Liberals is like watching the current version of the Ottawa Senators. Even though you are nominally rooting for them; you still find yourself cringing at their self-destructive giveaways…

    And sometimes you even find yourself yelling at the TV, "You IDIOTS!! You're not running against George Bush!!! WRONG COUNTRY!!! WRONG DECADE!!!"

    • I think your simile would be more apt with the Leafs. They haven't found the right formula in over 40 years.

      • I just can't imagine myself cheering for the Leafs under any circumstances…

        But then again, the same was true of the Liberals only a couple of years ago. Frankly, I'd rather that the Liberals just go ahead and collapse already and then I could support whatever new party emerges from the ashes. As it stands now, they are simply the least offensive option, but only just.

        • You could try joining with me (there's a bunch of us) to make the changes from the inside.

          • I appreciate the offer, but I'm a little too bitter towards the brand just yet. I do wish you the best in trying to make those changes though…

            If I can be so bold as to offer a suggestion; the Liberals need to make a public declaration that they are ashamed of what occured under their previous mandates as regards Sponsorship, The Grand-Mere Debacle and the stunningly offensive attack against Francois Beaudoin of the BDC which resulted from it.

            When we finally get a political party in this country that is capable of governing itself, then we'll have a party that is worthy of governing us all. The Liberals failed that test, badly, and have never acknowledged that failure. They need to, IMO.

  5. Does anyone else detect the faint aroma of desparation from the Liberal party of Toronto! kind of sad really to see a political party fall this far from what it used to be – certainly makles me appreciate handing in my little red card when I did.

    • Fall from what they were?
      Dec 1, 2008 was not a fall, it was a deliberate leap into a coalition with like minded parties,
      the socialists and French Resistance.

  6. Wow. The cheap political gamesmanship from the Liberals is just unreal.

    • The protests over this motion when we've seen the COnservatives doing much worse in their 10 percent'ers and in their attack ads before and during an election time frame rings a little hollow CR.

    • Do you object to cheap political gamesmanship in general, regardless of its origin?

      • Yes.

        • Unless of course, it's the Conservative's enjoying the benefits of wedge politics.

        • Unless of course, it's the Conservative's enjoying the benefits of wedge politics.

  7. Interesting that the Conservatives are choosing to vote against including "the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options, including contraception, consistent with the policy of previous Liberal and Conservative governments and all other G8 governments last year in L'Aquila, Italy".

    Is this another flip flop? Because I thought that was pretty much exactly what they were claiming yesterday.

    Also interesting that they are voting against basing policy "on scientific evidence which proves that education and family planning can prevent as many as one in every three maternal deaths". We all know they don't base policy on science – they've admitted that – but to put a stake in the ground on the issue is kind of new.

    And also interesting and telling that the Conservatives, again, refuse to rule out applying a "gag rule" on maternal health and support Bush's approach of telling 3W countries how to behave.

    • Interesting that Liberals want Canadians to pay for 3rd world abortions but can't bring themselves around to putting it in the motion.

      • Interesting that conservatives want to put women who have sex out of wedlock into stocks and throw moldy fruit at them but aren't willing to say so in a motion..

        What? If wilson can make crap up, why can't I?

      • Interesting that Conservatives want to deny abortion services to 3rd world countries when in Canada they are fully legal and paid for through tax dollars.

        I'm not going to dive into the actual pro-life/pro-choice debate, but I am saying how can the government fund services for Canadians and then say it wouldn't be helpful for mothers in 3rd world countries? Or vice versa, if it is detrimental to maternal health, why do we fund it in Canada?

        Some consistency in thought from the government would be much appreciated.

        • Wha…? The Conservatives are going to go dismantle third world abortion clinics?

          Do you, and take your time on this, do you get the difference between "choosing not to support" and "denying"?

          • Poor choice of wording on my part. "Choosing not to support" is certainly more in line with what I was going for.

            Retract "want to deny", insert "choose not to support", and my comment still stands. Congratulations on nitpicking one word in my comment rather than engaging its true substance.

      • Can you point to me where abortions are mentioned, Wilson? or where it is that you read that Liberals want Canadians to pay for 3rd world abortions?

        According to the Conservatives yesterday "the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options" does not include abortion.

  8. I'm the first one to call BS on the Conservatives' oft used excuse that the Liberals are, or were, worse with regard to whatever the topic at hand is. I call BS now.

  9. I'll second that. It's the same excuse, over and over again: "Sure, we're conducting ourselves dishonourably and playing cheap political games, but the other side is so much worse!" It's time for all parties to end this nonsense.

  10. When was the abortion debate closed? Has the base been notified?

    • Which base, Liberal or Conservative?

    • The Conservatives are the ones who don't want to debate it. Harper announced that to one and all during the 2006 election when he pronounced the Conservatives were a pro-choice party, base be damned.

  11. There is no debate here, except amongst Liberals.

    • Excellent use of the three wise monkeys defense.

    • From you that's a compliment.

    • I'd say there is no debate in the Wellington St. area these days except for the communication strategists from all the parties.

  12. I flicked on CPAC for a bit earlier today when I read what was up for debate becasue, hey, who doesn't like watching politiicans squirm a little when they discuss reproductive organs and health.

    I found the debate kind of eerie. Conservative after Conservative stood up and vowed that they will never re-open the abortion debate.

    So now we have 4 parties that are absolute proponents of maintaining the status quo on abortion.

    0 parties opposed to abortions.

    And 0 parties that are interested in actually passing an abortion law that would at least give some legal shape/protection/rules to the Supreme Court's decission to make it legal in the first place.

    Regardless of what you think of this motion, that's pretty significant for Canada.

  13. I don't know, I don't know, why am I such happy Liberal these days.

    • honestly Blues Clair I have no idea. care to let us know?

    • Must be INSITE.

  14. I find this motion delightfully playful and teasing – while fundamentally nailing Harper's feet to the floor.
    He has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth for far too long – one speech in ROC and another to francophones – one for domestic consumption and another in foreign venues.
    He has already severely injured Canada's standing in the rest of the world – and as for insulting Americans by calling the Bush strategy for Africa what it was – a repeat of missionary misadventures that we are still apologizing for back home to our own indigenous peoples – paternalistic and not based on one jot of fact. We are after all – talking of the Prime Minister and government who deliberately attempted to undermine the Obama presidential campiagn with misleading leaks about his so-called foreign affairs position on NAFTA – on a day when that President re-established himself as leader of the Developed world…

    • Indeed, I enjoyed this motion as well. And it's quite amusing watching the CPC accuse the Ignatieff "just visiting" led Liberals of using “rash, extreme anti-American rhetoric”.

      • Yeah, it's great watching the Liberals wallow around in sophomoric wankery, posturing and posing on the meaningless motions, and ducking back into their holes when push comes to shove… Glad you both got a chuckle out of it.

  15. If the best the Whiz has come up with is the abortion debate it is a loser.We have been through this before and Canadian women are fed up with all this fuss about third world pregnancies. Have they ever heard of the pill.? Do these left wing Liberals really believe that the guy on the corner on a construction site or a woman clerking in a store to make a living to feed their families really give a damn about the third world regardless what color they are.They came to Canada to get away from corruption and dictatorship not to have their tax dollars going to abortions in the third world.give them a choice increase the child tax credit or send that extra few hundred dollars to Africa.Want to bet how they will chose.The lefties are out of touch with Canada.

    • I like how you portend to speak for Canadian women and then declare that it's the left that's out of touch with Canada.

    • Clearly the Conservatives do care too gar, or they wouldn't be proposing such a huge initiative as this, not just for our own country but for the whole G8, and they wouldn't have flip flopped so quickly on contraception if they didn't care.

  16. [cont]
    Harper doesn't want to say. Like with everything else he does, he just wants to do what he wants to do and does not feel he has to be accountable for it. It is his government after all, eh, not ours.

    He thought he would just make his simple announcement and no one would ask about the details as in the past. But because of Ignatieff's impertinence – asking questions – he's been caught now between a rock and a hard place: he either says abortion is a litmus to appease his base and possibly his own conscience but lose votes; or he says he will stick with longstanding G8/international (other than US) and Canadian foreign aid policy and not impose morality on recipient nations, but lose the money from his base.

    • But because of Ignatieff's impertinence – asking questions – he's been caught now between a rock and a hard place

      Dream on. The Liberals failed in stunning fashion today. They're clearly too inept to properly execute the Machiavellian strategy you've outlined. "Rock and a hard place", indeed.

  17. I don't understand why you linked to Wherry's blog post about the long gun registry vote. You consider Bill C-391 to be "cheap political gamesmanship"?

  18. see jolyon's comment above.

    • Oh, well that sure changes my mind! I didn't realize that by criticizing one President's shitty policies, I was inadvertently criticizing an entire country of 300 million people, the majority of whom didn't actually vote for the man! My bad.

  19. lots of people could use spine stiffening lessons from Maggie, but let's leave that discussion for another day.

    I'm always wary of media polls, particularly as they somehow get used like drunks use lampposts: for support, not illumination.

    But that besides, if the 60 per cent who believe abortion is morally wrong (in all cases? How was the question worded?) really do hold to that belief, then it contradicts the article that I can no longer find the link to, where "most Canadians support at least" some form of abortion, and we really do need to have this debate.

    • "where "most Canadians support at least" some form of abortion"

      I think there are a lot of people like me. If someone asked me if abortion was morally wrong, I would say absolutely because you are murdering baby. However, I also know that over the centuries, women have been having unsafe abortions due to dire personal circumstances. If I was PM – god help you all – I would write law that allows abortions for the first 10-12 weeks and if mother's health is threatened after 3 months.

  20. Once again the Liberals drop the ball. That's what Ignatieff gets for being so arrogant about the abortion issue. It's an incredibly difficult topic and one that engenders a whole lot more soul searching than some would think. You CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT go running around using the 'abortion' would and act like being against it is somehow backwards. One can be pro-choice and anti-abortion, but when you're vilifying the someone for not being the former, it's tough to parse that to make the latter feel comfortable. Pretty embarrassing day for Ignatieff, again.

    • What? You mean the standard lines about how pro-life types are just fruitcakes who want to enslave women aren't completely accurate?

  21. I'm all about evidence, but has it really been proven in a strict scientific sense? And if so, why not reference the exact proofs as part of the motion?

    As much as I disagree with the Cons on this, it's a bit much to criticize them for voting against a motion that essentially calls them a bunch of dumb poo-poo heads.

    • Well said, and I applaud your intellectual honesty.

  22. I just can't figure out whether Harper laid a beautiful trap and Ignatieff fell into it, or whether the Liberals are busy scoring an own goal while the CPC watches in befuddlement.

    Help me Wherry, you're my only hope.

    • I'd love to believe it's the former, but I've got to believe it's the latter.

    • Ha! A bit of both, I think.

  23. If the federal government were willing to cite any research from any agencies or fellow G8 countries that support those views with regards to prioritization of resources, I would be more inclined to accept the government's position.

    So far though, the government has offered nothing in Question Period other than an unsubstantiated "we will not reopen the debate on abortion".

  24. Gaunilon, if you saw the iggo interview on CBC after the vote, you would stop wondering. The "leader" of the libs was completely unprepared for this vote to have gone against him. I'm sorry, I don't think this guy has what it takes to lead Canada.

  25. Does anyone understand the phase "not reopen the abortion debate"? I thought I understood it when Harper first used it; he was telling his party they were in no position to change/create Canadian policy in this area. There it made sense, there has been a lot of debate about public funding for the termination of pregnancies in Canada and there is no likely consensus on the horizon.

    I would expect there must have been some debate as well about Canadian aid monies being used to support abortions overseas, however I cannot recall any. Was that debate held? Do we even have a status quo to maintain?

    If I had to guess at a status quo, it is that our aid helps support medical facilities and we largely leave moral issues to local authorities to sort out. To me this makes a great deal of sense, if Canadians cannot sort out this important but challenging issue why would we impose a view on others? If this is the debate that is not to be reopened, why don't the Conservatives simply say it?

    The concern is that the Conservatives will impose their morality on foreigners in an area they would not dare impose their views on Canadians. If that is not their intent… why not say so?

    • "If I had to guess at a status quo, it is that our aid helps support medical facilities and we largely leave moral issues to local authorities to sort out."

      I think you have nailed it on the head here. We have been, like the Beiging declaration we signed onto asks of all foreign aid providers (which we signed), local policy neutral – requiring neither that abortion be prohibited or provided – but funding as needed and in accordance with local laws.

      The question has been put to Harper over and over again of whether this would continue and he continues and continues to refuse to answer. If a health clinic or hospital in some remote part of a country also happens to provide abortion services, will Harper exclude them from funding or not? If training obstetricians is part of the health aid and a country's only oby-gyn program also teaches safe abortions, will Harper exclude them from funding or not?

  26. Well, judging from the commentary, you and many others have enough of these nits for a full infestation.

    As for your true substance, our governments are funding all sorts of stuff that is not getting funded in its third world support. Ferinstance, I cannot think of a single ice hockey rink built from Canadian government funds in all of Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya combined.

    Maybe malaria prevention and treatment, vitamin A and polio vaccines, rank a whole lot higher on the priority scale, than does elective termination of pregnancy, when you are looking at how a first-world country's resources for the third world's public health should be allocated. Maybe elective termincation of pregnancy makes the cutoff as part of the "maternal health" package. But don't use a we-spend-on-it-here argument. If you do, you are comapring apples and paper clips.

  27. On the one hand, I'm all for criticizing the Bush administration – as an individual.

    On the other hand, I'd be bothered if the US Congress passed a resolution denouncing the policy of a specific Canadian Prime Minister, and listing him by name. It would strike me as unjustified interference in Canadian politics. I think it would be best if we abided by the principle that, unless it concerns human rights or international law, we stay out of other countries' partisan debates.