More Tory MPs join backbench revolt

OTTAWA — A two-week parliamentary break seems to have done nothing to quell a rebellion by Conservative backbenchers against what they describe as stifling party discipline imposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

OTTAWA — A two-week parliamentary break seems to have done nothing to quell a rebellion by Conservative backbenchers against what they describe as stifling party discipline imposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Two more Tories — Ontario MPs Michael Chong and Pierre Lemieux — joined the chorus of complaints Monday as Parliament resumed business after the Easter break.

They threw their support behind Conservative colleague Mark Warawa, whose attempts to raise the issue of sex-selective abortion have been stymied by Harper’s determination to honour his promise not to revisit the issue.

Warawa triggered the backbench revolt last month over a private member’s motion asking Parliament to condemn the practice of sex-selective abortion.

An all-party committee that oversees private members’ business ruled his motion to be non-votable, thereby killing it before it could be debated.

When Warawa tried to make a statement complaining about that in the Commons, he was struck from the roster of Tory MPs lined up to make members’ statements.

Warawa has asked Speaker Andrew Scheer to rule that his privileges as an MP to speak freely have been breached.

He is also considering whether to appeal the committee’s decision to kill his motion, which would require Scheer to order a rare secret ballot vote by all MPs.

Warawa’s battle has been joined not just by fellow anti-abortion MPs in the Tory caucus but by others who’ve publicly complained that party discipline has gone too far when a backbencher isn’t allowed to speak during the 15 minutes allotted daily to members’ statements.

“Speaking is what we do here,” Chong told the Commons on Monday.

“In a democracy, we do not solve our debates or disagreements through the tip of a sword or through violence … We settle debates in a democracy through words and the ability of members to express those words on this floor is the heart of the matter.”

Under Commons rules, Chong argued it’s the Speaker’s job to determine which MPs get to make statements and which are allowed to pose queries during the daily question period.

That role was shifted back in the 1980s to party House leaders and whips, in the interests of helping the Speaker co-ordinate and schedule business in the chamber, but Chong said they’ve now gone well beyond that.

“This shift from scheduling and co-ordinating to command and control has stripped members of the right to ask questions during question period and is now threatening to do the same during members’ statements.”

Lemieux said he’s heard from constituents demanding to know whether he agrees with the decision to kill Warawa’s motion and asking if he’s spoken publicly on it.

If not for the debate triggered by Warawa’s point of privilege, Lemieux said his only opportunity to weigh in on the matter would have been through members’ statements — and he’d presumably have been struck from the roster by the party whip, just like Warawa.

“It would indeed be an infringement on the rights and privileges of a member of Parliament if members were not able to rise to clarify their positions on such important matters or to give voice to the concerns of their constituents,” Lemieux told the Commons.

Just Posted

Tory MPs gather in Red Deer to hear from voters

Eight MPs from across the province got input on a wide range of topics

Red Deer food bank to re-evaluate to stay up to date on new Canadian food guide

The Red Deer Food Bank Society, which feeds thousands of families every… Continue reading

Young Blackfalds mother copes with double tragedies with community support

Three fundraisers are being held to help Alana Newbold and her children

Red Deer careful about overuse of road salt

Focus on anti-icing to reduce salt use

Carjacking victim would stop to help again

Springbrook woman has some sympathy for carjacker

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Liberals have options to help more millennials buy homes, experts say

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have several options as they look for… Continue reading

Parks Canada puts brakes on Icefields Parkway bike trail in Alberta

Parks Canada says it won’t go ahead with a plan to build… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake resident to receive kidney from younger sister

Sylvan Lake resident Lexie Libby had been losing hope of ever finding… Continue reading

Closing arguments at trial of accused in slaying of Calgary Stampeders player

CALGARY — Final arguments are to be heard today at the trial… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers fire general manager Peter Chiarelli: reports

EDMONTON — Peter Chiarelli has been fired as general manager of the… Continue reading

Canadian Milos Raonic has Australian Open run end in quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian Milos Raonic is done at the Australian Open… Continue reading

$20K pay gap between women, men in Canadian tech jobs

The report defines tech workers as people either producing or making extensive use of technology, regardless of industry

Two Quebec short-film directors mark first Oscar nominations together

TORONTO — Two Quebec filmmakers celebrated in solidarity on Tuesday after learning… Continue reading

Most Read