By Patricia Maloney
The democratic process is alive and well in Canada…except when it comes to any subject related to prenatal human life.
We see this time and time again on our campuses, in our Parliament, in our media, and now we see it even affecting private member’s business (PMB). PMB is not government business. It is individual member’s chance to introduce motions or bills that they or their constituents feel is important.
On Thursday last week, MP Mark Warawa’s Private Member’s Motion 408, “that the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination” was deemed non-votable by the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
This means that the motion will not be allowed to go before Parliament to be voted on by members in the House. Yet according to an impartial Library of Parliament analyst, M-408 passed all the votability criteria and therefore should have been deemed votable, according to strict rules of the House.
Yet representatives from all three parties unanimously voted against it.
Pro-lifers have grown used to having MPs vote against anything that attempts to provide any legal protection for the unborn. However to date, our elected representatives have been at least allowed to bring forward private member’s bills and motions. Now it seems that avenue might be closing as well.
One would think that the opposition parties would at least stand up for democracy if they can’t bring themselves to ever stand up for the unborn. In this case, however, they sided with the Conservative MP on the committee. Unless someone can provide evidence to the contrary, we can only assume that all three parties were whipped into voting against allowing the Motion to proceed to a vote [that is, were told by their respective parties how to vote].
It is a well known fact that Prime Minister Harper will never bring forward abortion legislation, and all other parties have an official “pro-choice” stand on abortion. There is unanimous distaste amongst all political parties for anything remotely related to abortion. But so what?
Parliament is supposed to exist to serve the people. Parliament is not supposed to exist to serve the politicians.
Since the parties represent the people–all the people, even those they don’t agree with–all viewpoints must be respected, discussed and debated as the public wishes. This motion had a lot of public support, and a recent (2011) Environics poll told us that 92% of Canadians are against sex selective abortions. In fact, leaders from all the major parties spoke out against sex selection prior to the introduction of this motion. To all of a sudden unilaterally prevent our elected MPs from voting on this issue in Parliament, is a perversion of the democratic process that is our right.
Democracy in Canada should not apply only when it is convenient for our political leaders. When we allow this kind of behaviour, that arbitrarily deems some topics worthy of discussion and others not worthy, democracy loses its meaning.
All three parties are pro-choice. If the democratic process can be subverted simply because of a pre-existing bias by those in power, it is only a matter of time before another topic suffers the same fate.
Mr. Warawa will be appealing the non-votability ruling to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) on Wednesday. If the PROC committee upholds the non-votability ruling, Mr. Warawa has said he will take the unprecedented step of appealing that ruling to the House where a secret ballot of all Members will take place over the course of two days. That vote will determine whether or not M-408 will be allowed to proceed to a vote. In effect, it will be a vote for or against democracy in our Canadian Parliament.
It is quite a sad irony that something so small and vulnerable as the child in the womb can instill so much fear in our political leaders, that they are willing to sacrifice one of our most cherished Canadian values–democracy itself–in order to shield themselves from the truth about what abortion involves.
Editor’s note. This appears at http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2013/03/if-warawas-m-408-now-whos-next.html