How to turn Mark Warawa into a symbol

A motion on sex-selective abortion is ruled out of order

Conservative MP Mark Warawa would like to put a resolution before the House of Commons that would condemn “sex-selective pregnancy termination.” But yesterday, Conservative MPs joined with New Democrats and Liberals on the subcommittee that oversees private members’ business to deem the motion out of order.

The decision on MP Mark Warawa’s motion came in a special parliamentary subcommittee Thursday, as Tory MP Scott Armstrong closed ranks with the opposition and voted against letting it proceed. “(The motion) involves ultrasounds and health-care delivery,” Armstrong said just before the vote. “This is clearly the jurisdiction of the provinces.”

Armstrong’s comment flew in the face of the testimony of a Library of Parliament analyst that the motion was within federal jurisdiction, wasn’t similar to another motion before the Commons and wasn’t unconstitutional. The decision irritated members of the Conservative caucus. “Scott Armstrong was whipped,” one MP said. “There’s little doubt that the Prime Minister’s Office wanted this motion removed so that it not be dealt with by the House of Commons.”

Mr. Warawa is displeased (and will appeal).

“My motion is fully in line with the criteria to deem Private Members’ Business votable,” said Warawa. “The idea that Members of Parliament aren’t allowed to express an opinion on any subject is beyond belief.”

At least two other Conservative MPs—LaVar Payne and Kyle Seeback—are also unimpressed. And social conservatives are unhappy.

WeNeedaLAW director Mike Schouten was also shocked by the decision. “Is the Prime Minister’s Office so dismissive of anything remotely connected to pre-born human rights that it will subvert democracy itself to avoid the discussion?” he asked.

Here is where Mr. Warawa might get the support of those who otherwise oppose his views on abortion. Regardless of how one feels about his motion, regardless of how uncomfortable it might make the leadership of Mr. Warawa’s party, every MP and everyone who is represented by an MP should be concerned if Mr. Warawa is being prevented from putting a motion before the House simply because some people oppose its sentiment or would rather it not be brought forward. Never mind the very fraught matter of abortion, this now threatens to become a question about the nature of parliamentary democracy and the independence of MPs.

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