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

Government announces 79 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 2 in Red Deer

There are 79 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta, bringing the provincial… Continue reading

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Red Deer hospital bracing for COVID-19 impact

“We’re all worried about what’s coming, but I think we feel confident”

WATCH: COVID-19 doesn’t stop Red Deer Public Library from telling stories

Deb Isbister has been reading stories to children for more than 20… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

I am still facing that existential angst

Stir crazy. I looked the phrase up, just for fun. “Restless or… Continue reading

Red Deer College adapting and adjusting to COVID-19

I have worked in post-secondary education for more than 30 years, and… Continue reading

Families urge action to get Canadians home from cruise ship stuck off Panama

1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board and more tests are being done every day

Saskatchewan cabinet Minister deletes ‘pray and repent’ tweet over COVID-19

REGINA — A Saskatchewan cabinet minister who tweeted an Old Testament passage… Continue reading

Ontario allows youth to remain in care after passing cut-off age during pandemic

TORONTO — Youth in Ontario’s child welfare system who pass the cut-off… Continue reading

Canada could face legal trouble over refugee deportations: advocates

Deputy Prime Minister Freeland holding ‘urgent’ discussions with U.S. officials

Most Read