Commons defeats Tory MP’s pro-life motion

OTTAWA — The prime minister was among the majority of MPs that helped defeat a Conservative MP’s pro-life motion Wednesday, but ten of Stephen Harper’s ministers voted to keep the debate alive.

OTTAWA — The prime minister was among the majority of MPs that helped defeat a Conservative MP’s pro-life motion Wednesday, but ten of Stephen Harper’s ministers voted to keep the debate alive.

Public Works and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose was among the members of cabinet who rose to vote in favour of Stephen Woodworth’s private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code.

The motion was defeated by a vote of 203-91.

Harper had called Woodworth’s motion “unfortunate,” and in the spring said he would vote against it because of his party’s electoral commitment to not re-open the debate on abortion.

But more than 80 Conservative MPs did not appear to view their vote as a contradiction to the election promise.

“It’s unacceptable. Stephen Harper told us his government wasn’t willing to reopen the debate and you have the minister in charge of the status of women voting (in favour),” said NDP MP Niki Ashton.

“At what point do the Conservatives consider women’s equality a priority?”

This being a private member’s motion, and an issue of conscience, MPs were allowed to make a personal decision on the vote. Four Liberal MPs also voted in favour of the motion that would have taken a look at when a child is declared a human being in the Criminal Code section on homicide.

Woodworth told reporters that he hoped his supporters would keep up the pressure on MPs.

“I hope that people all across Canada will really take to heart, will be moved to advocate that we enshrine in Canadian law the inherent worth and dignity of every human being,” Woodworth said.

Currently, the Criminal Code defines a child as a human only after it emerges alive from the mother’s body at birth.

Woodworth and his supporters point out that the landmark 1988 ruling confirming abortion rights in Canada also noted the potential need to protect unborn babies at some point during a pregnancy.

Woodworth’s motion was used as a sort of political football, and not only in Ottawa.

Agnes Maltais, Quebec’s status of women minister, sent a letter to all MPs from the province earlier Wednesday, reminding them that the national assembly as recently as April voted to protect abortion rights.

“You are representatives of Quebec elected to the House of Commons,” she wrote. “I ask you to respect the will of the people of Quebec as expressed by the national assembly and therefore to vote against this motion.”

The NDP has accused Harper of essentially putting abortion back on the table for debate through Woodworth’s motion.

“Mr. Harper can’t have it both ways,”said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. “He can’t claim that he’s against reopening the abortion debate and having a sitting minister vote in favour of reopening the abortion debate.

“The two just can’t be squared.”

Rod Bruinooge, a Manitoba MP who once put forward his own pro-life motion, said Woodworth has already achieved part of his goal.

“It’s caused a good discussion as to when life begins,” said Bruinooge.

“I don’t expect that it’s going to pass, that’s my honest viewpoint, but I think it’s been a good discussion and I think that’s really the net result that the member wanted to achieve.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan speaks in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday in this image from his Facebook page.
Red Deer MLA Jason Stephan sounds off on socialism in anti-lockdown speech

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has applauded his government’s COVID-19 response, saying… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu
Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Atlanta United's Mo Adams, right, challenges Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo during first half MLS soccer action in East Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo says he finished the season with an injured leg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jessica Hill
Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speak to the media during a visit to the Molson Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, January 16, 2020. City councillors in Vancouver voted unanimously this week to ask federal officials for an exemption to Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a decision advocates hope will blaze a trail for the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use in other municipalities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Senator Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Sinclair is planning to leave the Senate early next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter during a bi-weekly news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Most Read