Con MP Brent Rathgeber : I would submit that if the House does not jealously protect the rights of members to bring forward matters of concern to their constituents and if it does not strictly enforce those rules, the roles of the private member, Parliament and ultimately democracy have all been equally compromised.
Really. You're just noticing this now?
And just like that it's no longer a matter of keeping the abortion debate on a constant low simmer in the House until we all get used to hearing womens' rights questioned there - no, indeed our very democracy has been compromised if Con MPs aren't allowed to bring it up on a regular basis.
Andrew Coyne has written two impassioned columns in as many days defending Warawa' right to speak.
His Backbench revolt isn’t pro-life vs. pro-choice, it’s for the freedom of all MPs repeats some of the arguments he put forth in his 2008 column :
It's time to talk about abortion : This is not about abortion. This is about democracy
and another one from a year ago :
The idea we can’t debate abortion is unworthy of a democratic country.
The five Con MPs bravely supporting Mark Warawa in his campaign to save the very soul of democracy are Brent Rathgeber, John Williamson, Stephen Woodworth, Kyle Seeback, and Leon Benoit. And here, as a gentle reminder, are the answers three of them - Woodworth, Seeback, and Benoit - gave to the Campaign Life Coalition Candidate Evaluation election questionnaire in 2011 and 2008 :
Williamson, Steve's former communications director, and Rathgeber declined to answer the Campaign Life questionnaire but both voted in favor of Woodworth's alternative abortion ploy - Motion 312 - to study when life begins in the womb, along with 86 other Con MPs and one third of cabinet.
While there are principled reasons to support MPs' right to speak freely in the House, it is notable that of all the issues this government has made a point of muzzling of their MPs on, including this one in its various previous anti-choice disguises, suddenly we are being asked to put the right of MPs to speak their minds in the House ahead of women's rights as a point of principle, led by MPs who have already committed themselves to introducing anti-choice laws.
So are we looking at a Backbencher Spring here?
Here's Warawa free speech supporter Con MP Leon Benoit immediately after the weekly caucus meeting with Steve the following day :
Nope, guess not. Looks like Steve muzzled the groundhogs for yet another spring.
Monday, April 1 update : Con MP Brent Rathgeber, after the same caucus meeting :
“I think it was a good meeting. The media have reported, and I think accurately, that many members who were upset for a variety of reasons, seem to be satisfied that the issues have either been resolved or the issues are not worth resolving.”The 24 hour Con Backbencher Spring is over.