I’ve been pondering the whole Mark Warawa ‘mini-revolt’ debacle over the Easter weekend and have come to a few conclusions.
The immediate crisis of course is Warawa’s motion itself which was only intended as a measure for Parliament to condemn sex-selective abortion. However the usual screaming banshees of the left warned that it was a back-door attempt to reopen the abortion debate.
And that of course is taboo since Stephen Harper apparently promised in the last election campaign never to reopen that debate if he became Prime Minister.
The conundrum as I see it is that although backbenchers might vote their own conscience without much consequence, I believe that PMSH knows that there are a handful of cabinet ministers that would be in an ethical quandary if they were forced to vote with the Prime Minister against the motion.
Since that would be an impossible situation to reconcile he probably thought it best that the motion never reach the stage of debate. (And all this is assuming that the PMO did indeed put pressure on the CPC committee members to quash the motion.)
Ultimately the greater good will have to be determined – Whether it is to rally around the PM and continue the focus on the economy, or listen to one’s own conscience and suffer the consequences.
Warawa still has a few options open to him on this matter and it will be interesting to see what he does. The irony is that he would probably have an easier time getting his motion passed as a backbencher in opposition rather than as a member of the governing party.
The next layer of concern is that of backbencher rights and freedoms in Parliament to even give a statement that has not been approved by the party leader and whip.
That issue has garnered the attention of some MPs who don’t even agree with Warwara’s motion but are concerned about members’ freedom to express themselves freely in the House. This area is more contentious and may cause members in other parties to join in the battle against the choke-hold that leaders have on their caucuses.
The final layer is a question of how Parliament even deals with contentious issues. Do we as citizens just allow them to close their eyes and ignore anything that might be difficult to discuss?
And what about the next step down the slippery slope? (H/T Fh)
It’s your Parliament. You elected them. You decide.
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FWIW This article by Barbara Kay ended up in the print version of today’s Post Editorial (April 3). The last few paragraphs were totally rewritten and the final headline was: “Stephen Harper: Canada’s Pro-choice Activist-in-Chief.”