How Mark Warawa's motion was rejected

Conservative MP appeals ruling on Motion 408

Conservative MP Mark Warawa is appealing the rejection of his motion on sex-selective abortion.

Mr. Warawa’s motion was ruled out of order after a discussion at the subcommittee on private members’ business last Thursday. The audio of that meeting is available here—Motion 408 was the second motion dealt with by the committee.

An expert from the Library of Parliament told the committee the following.

This motion will ask the House to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex selective pregnancy termination. With respect to this motion, I will first underline that there is a fundamental distinction between a motion and an Act of Parliament. A motion does not enact in itself a rule of law. It’s not an Act of Parliament. It does not put in place rules. This motion refers to the deliberative functions of Parliament, which is protected by Parliamentary privilege. If we look at the criteria, it is within federal jurisdiction. It does not offend the constitution, and there’s no similar motion currently on the order paper.

NDP MP Philip Toone asked a few questions about the jurisdictional rule. Liberal MP Stephane Dion argued that Motion 408 was similar in subject matter to Motion 312, which the House had already voted. Conservative MP Scott Armstrong then commented as follows.

I would like to support my colleagues at the table in both instances. We’re of the position that Bill C-408 should not be deemed votable because it doesn’t meet these two criteria. It involves ultrasounds and health care delivery, and this is clearly the jurisdiction of the provinces. This bill would impinge upon provincial jurisdiction, and, in our opinion, this bill is very similar in nature to a former motion which was debated in the house, motion M-312. This was also voted on. We agree with the positions of both the colleagues at the table.

By a voice vote, the motion was then deemed non-votable.

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