'These incidents appear to be homicides'

Conservative MPs Maurice Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon have written to the RCMP to request that some abortions be investigated as homicides.

In their letter, the MPs wrote that between 2000 and 2009 there were 491 abortions performed on Canadian women who were pregnant for longer than 19 weeks. They contend that at this stage of gestation, the abortions involved live babies. “These are vulnerable, innocent children that homicide has been perpetrated on,” Vellacott said Thursday from Ottawa. “The individuals who have perpetrated the breach of the Criminal Code should be charged and brought to justice.”

The NDP’s Megan Leslie led Question Period this afternoon and challenged the Prime Minister on this.

Megan Leslie. Mr. Speaker, just days after the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision and just days after we heard the Minister for Status of Women acknowledge that Canadians do not want the abortion debate reopened, we see another attempt by the Conservative backbench to do just that. These Conservatives are trying to get the RCMP to investigate abortions as murders. Will the government make it clear that this question was settled 25 years ago? Will the Prime Minister make it clear that he and his government understand that abortion is not murder?

Stephen Harper. Mr. Speaker, I think all members of the House, whether they agree with it or not, understand that abortion is legal in Canada. This government, myself included, have made it very clear that the government does not intend to change the law in this regard.

After QP, Bob Rae offered his particular concern.

Well, I believe the Prime Minister when he says he does not intend to do that. But it’s obvious that there are a lot of members of his caucus who want to do that. I think there’s also a question about—there’s a difference between Joe Public writing a letter to the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Commissioner of the RCMP receiving such a letter. I don’t think the application of the criminal law in Canada should be subject to political pressure of any kind whatsoever from any source whatsoever and I regret the fact that members are doing this because I think it creates a sense that somehow this determination is a political determination. It’s been a common understanding of the law in Canada that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not a criminal act and that is the law of Canada so I think it’s important that we all start from that premise.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.