P.E.I. MPs will vote Wednesday on a controversial motion that many believe is a thinly veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Ottawa.
Motion 312, put forward by Conservative MP Stephen Woodward, aims to create a parliamentary committee to review the Criminal Code’s definition of when life begins.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has maintained he is not interested in reopening the abortion debate, but several of his caucus members have said they will support the motion, including Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said he is pro-choice and will be voting against it. But he said he finds it notable Harper has not called for a whipped vote on the private members’ motion if he is indeed serious about not wanting to debate abortion.
“Ironically, this is one time that I will be on the same side of the issue as Stephen Harper,” Easter said in an interview.
“Or is he, like on so many issues, using a private member’s bill to come in the back door?”
That’s just the fear of the P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization (PRRO), a group of young women who have been fighting for abortions to be made available in P.E.I. – the only province in Canada where the procedure is not available.
PRRO’s Bronwyn Rodd said was shocked to learn a high profile cabinet minister such as Kenney has come out in support of Woodward’s motion.
“I will vote against knowing some might view this as a compromise of my personal beliefs, but any judgments in that regard will be between me and my faith,” - Charlottetown MP Sean Casey
“Some of us were concerned that this was Stephen Harper’s way of reopening this debate on the national level, floating this balloon by inviting a private member’s bill or motion,” Rodd said.
“Kenney supporting this motion – that’s shocking. It certainly doesn’t make those concerns invalid.”
National Revenue Minister and P.E.I. Tory MP Gail Shea would not reveal how she plans to vote on Motion 312. But a spokesperson for her office said she will attend and will register a vote on the matter.
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey issued a statement Tuesday saying he will be voting against it, even though he is personally pro-life.
“ I have decided that my personal views will not come first. I listened to my constituents and will oppose Motion 312. This has not been an easy decision,” Casey stated.
“I will vote against knowing some might view this as a compromise of my personal beliefs, but any judgments in that regard will be between me and my faith.”
The Guardian received no response to calls and emails to Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay’s office on this issue.