Saturday, March 30, 2013

Abortion and the robot revolt

How heartwarming it was to watch five brave Con backbenchers rise up to defend Langley Con MP Mark Warawa's right to independent Steve-free abortion speech in the House of Commons. After years of having to recite member statements on whatever idiotic repetitive talking points the 30-somethings in the PMO assigned to them every day, this week the robots are revolting.

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.


thwap said...

If MPs want free speech, all they have to do is stand up to their leadership.

Nobody is forcing them to cave on their supposed values.

So the anti-choice MPs had a little tantrum and then fell back into line.

Hard to figure out which course of action would have made them more contemptible.

Anonymous said...

Herr Harper's MPs are useless, gutless wonders. Herr Harper has dictated to his useless henchmen, their behavior during Easter break. They are absolutely not permitted, to break those rules, what-so-ever.

The Mafia Boss has spoken. Harper's MPs will obey their Mafia King Harper orders, for their conduct during Easter break.

Just when you think Herr Harper and his henchmen, couldn't possibly go any lower, they do.

Anonymous said...

This whole circus could be a Machiavellian ploy to get the abortion debate back on the agenda.

Harper pretends to muzzle his MPs on abortion and they stage a fake revolt. Harper then says that 'in the interest of democracy, he must let his Reform members act on abortion related legislation'.

Harper escapes his election promises in the name of 'democracy' and the Reformers get their abortion agenda moved to the front burner. The Conservative rallying cry becomes 'If you are not for the debate of abortion, then you are against democracy!".

Dana said...

Alison, could you email me please at stilldana at gmail dot com


Alison said...

The five anti-choice backbenchers were heading back to their constituencies for spring break just after this little rebellion broke. Now they can at least tell their so-con backers back home that they really really really tried.

Anonymous said...

Yes Alison, this little charade is designed to convey to the "conservative choir" that Herr Harper does listen to his MP's and their constituents.

This strategy is a complete red herring and the muzzling of scientists, public servants, and Conservative MP's will continue in perpetuity.

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