Trudeau’s abortion stand divides P.E.I. MPs

Teresa Wright
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Federal MPs Lawrence MacAulay, left, and Wayne Easter. FILE PHOTO

Prince Edward Island MPs appear to be divided on federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s controversial pro-choice abortion policy for party candidates.

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said he was surprised his leader came out with the announcement last week that all candidates who run for the Liberal nomination in the 2015 federal election campaign must support the Liberal party’s pro-choice stance.

“I was quite surprised, but that’s what happened in a public statement and it is the party policy,” Easter said.

“I’m just hopeful that it doesn’t narrow the breadth of opinion that is within our party on the various issues, because we do need that wide open discussion as a party on this and many other issues.”

Easter is pro-choice, but he says he believes the policy would not preclude candidates from running who may personally disagree on the issue.

“It’s not my understanding that a person who is pro-life couldn’t run for the party, but what they’re asking is that they confirm that if the issue was to come to a vote, then they would support that party policy in the House of Commons,” Easter said.

In the past, these kinds of votes-of-conscious have not usually been whipped.

In 2012, a motion many believed was a thinly veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Ottawa made it to the House of Commons. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper has remained firm he is not interested in reopening this debate, he allowed the vote on the motion to be a free one.

Harper voted against it, but several members of his own cabinet voted in favour of creating a parliamentary committee to review the Criminal Code’s definition of when life begins including Egmont MP and federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

Easter said he recognizes these kinds of votes have been free in the past, but future votes on abortion issues will now be whipped within the Liberal caucus because the party voted to adopt a pro-choice stance at its 2012 policy convention.

“Also it is ruled that way by the courts,” Easter said.

“Even if the House of Commons was to pass a law going in the other direction, it would be ruled as against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so I think it’s just confirming the reality out there.”

Some Liberal MPs are now finding themselves in an awkward position. While Trudeau did provide a grandfathering-in caveat for elected MPs who are not pro-choice, pro-lifers like Charlottetown MP Sean Casey are still left with a difficult decision.

They must vote with the party, even if they personally disagree with the policy.

“I have openly expressed my personal struggle with this issue in the past, but as in the past, I’ve decided that my personal views should not come first,” Casey said in a statement to The Guardian.

“Parliament has spoken on the matter, as have the courts. Beyond that, my constituents have made their feelings known to me, and the majority do not want this debate re-opened.”

Casey said he realizes some may view this as a compromise of his beliefs, but he says those kinds of judgments are “between me and my faith.”

“It’s important to understand that the overall intention of the policy is to avoid efforts by some MPs who seek, on an ongoing basis, to reopen this very divisive and deeply personal issue, which our Supreme Courts have thoroughly and carefully considered and subsequently ruled on,” Casey added.

Repeated attempts to reach Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay for comment on this story were left unanswered.

In an emailed statement to The Guardian this week, Shea criticized Trudeau over the policy, stating she is proud to belong to a party “running fair and open nominations.”

“After Justin Trudeau’s reckless position on marijuana legalization and now rejecting any potential candidates that respect the sanctity of life, I think we all have cause for concerns about his judgment.”

Organizations: House of Commons, Rights

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Chris
    May 17, 2014 - 09:36

    Any Liberal politician worth his salt should have exercised his fundamental right of choice ;choose a new leader or change parties. Just-in , Tru-dough needs to go. History doesn't fair well for dictators. History should have told us one Trudeau was too many!

  • don
    May 17, 2014 - 06:55

    trudeau is now showing his true sides. you either do as he says or else. just like ghiz. bullies and to think they are the ones that say the PM is a bully now who is the bullies and 3................

  • No impressed!
    May 16, 2014 - 20:03

    Typical Lawrence; he will not take a stand on anything, but excels; as mentioned in another comment, at fear mongering! Like Jean Cretien; he won the majority of his elections due to the split in the Conservative party of Canada.

  • J Culbertson
    May 16, 2014 - 17:44

    Since when do women deserve the right to cut up the babies? We men must stick together and not allow the weaker sex to do such things. A womans job is give birth to all babies, raped, incest or whatever else. That is Gods plan. Women today think they can wear revealing clothes and then wonder why they are pregnant!

    • Nice Try
      May 16, 2014 - 19:18


  • Don Wright
    May 16, 2014 - 16:42

    In April 2014, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-250 which adds “sexual orientation” to the list of classes that the Canadian Criminal Code protects under its hate provisions. With this provision in place, how long will it be before Canadians who oppose gay “marriage” are prosecuted for their defence of traditional marriage between one man and one woman? Pro-life candidates need not apply to the Liberal Party is the message from Federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau. With his words of intolerance, he has further silenced the political voice of pro-life Canadians.

    • your choice
      May 17, 2014 - 09:40

      Pro-Choice is the law. Politicians need to abide by the law. Politicians need to abide by the law. GOT IT?? Are you one of those who support politicians bending the law to line their own pockets? No? Well then. Being able to cheat does not give the right to cheat. Same with Pro Choice .. it's a choice to go with the law or not.

  • Oh Lawrence, Where are you???
    May 16, 2014 - 12:21

    Good luck trying to get Lawrence MacAulay to take a stand on anything. Lawrence's position on marijuana "evil Ottawa wants to take away the ferry service, I will save it". Lawrence's position on the fishery "evil Ottawa wants to take away the ferry service, I will save it". Lawrence's position on abortion "evil Ottawa wants to take away the ferry service, I will save it". Geeze Lawrence, if you don't want to engage in debating any real issues at least have the decency to stay in hiding. For the record, the ferry service has never been in danger. Fear mongering for political purposes plain and simple.

  • Unknown
    May 16, 2014 - 11:07

    Being a man, I don't think I can fully understand how tough it would be for a woman to make "the choice". But, to all those who are absolutely, 100% against someone having the choice I tell you this. Let's just use this as an example, someone gets raped and gets impregnated, would you not think they "may" want to decide if they want to move forward with that extremely violent pregnancy? That's the determining factor for me, so I respect someone life choice and don't always have to agree. There are bigger issues we could spend our time and effort on, this isn't one of them.

    • lou lou annie
      May 16, 2014 - 14:59

      I know several people who were the product of a rape.......they are still people and are loved the same as anyone else......

  • I expect
    May 16, 2014 - 08:32

    I expect Trudeau is planning to suggest Easter & Macaulay not run in next election. Out with the old & in with the new who are for abortion, bullying, toking.

    • Fed Up
      May 16, 2014 - 10:26

      Trudeau's useless twin here on PEI wants to leave his current political role and run in Lawrences spot. What is this country coming to? Both spoon fed, both with zero REAL experience.

  • Bad Phone Service?
    May 16, 2014 - 08:32

    Why is it that MacAulay's phone is always out of order when it comes to take a stand on an issue?

  • seriously people
    May 16, 2014 - 08:08

    Really I find it funny how blind society is, we cover everything in pesticides and chemicals yet complain about abortion laws. Do we really want to bring more children into a planet that is being destroyed on an annual basis? It should be the mothers choice to have an abortion there are enough children dying on our planetvas it is. Whyy is our government fighting over this maybe start focusing on preserving our planet, finding ways to better our environment with the reduce of toxic, wastes, chemicals being used on our foods and in our drinking water and in our air that is causing cancer to all species at a rapid rate. Canada be the change and start focusing on issues that will make a footprint!

    • This Story Not About Pesticides
      May 16, 2014 - 12:06

      Why do people try to spin every story to suit their own agenda?

    • None But
      May 16, 2014 - 12:27

      There are none so blind as those that will not see. Pro Choice is NOT Pro Abortion, it is 'for choices' available to women. If you have an agenda of your own re inducing guilt because you are carrying guilt, then don't bother pushing it onto other than yourself. My own opinion is that most people who are vociferously anti abortion are carrying some kind of guilt regarding that subject. Make of it what you will, it's my opinion I'm not pushing it on you as an individual.

  • Peter
    May 16, 2014 - 08:01

    What is it about the word "choice" that somepeople can't understand? Pro-Choice doesn't mean Pro-Abortion ... it means what it says ... Pro "CHOICE". Why is that so difficult to understand? Personally, I don't agree with abortion.... and if a person chooses abortion, I dislike their choice immensely.... but I'd go through he!! to defend their right to make that choice. It doesn't matter if I like their choice or not... it's their right to have a choice that's important ... and that is all these so-called "Pro Choicers" are saying. As far as Justin Trudeau goes, this is propbaly the most intelligent thing I've heard him say, so far.

  • from the bay
    May 16, 2014 - 06:53

    Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau just gave Harper another 4 yrs ....What a dummie. I voted liberal all my life .. this time i will not cast a vote for Trudeau , he is no better then Harper with his way or the highway attitude...

  • no google
    May 16, 2014 - 06:43

    Why is the term " Pro Choice" always used in the media? Why is the term "Pro Abortion" not used ?

    • David Polk
      May 16, 2014 - 07:54

      The term "pro choice" is more accurate. A person who is pro choice is not necessarily pro abortion - but is pro allowing a woman to decide for herself whether or not she want to abort. My wife is pro choice, but she is also, for the most part, anti abortion. Why would you conclude that someone who supports a woman's right to control her own body is pro abortion?

    • David Polk
      May 16, 2014 - 07:58

      The term "pro choice" is more accurate. A person who is pro choice is not necessarily pro abortion - but is pro allowing a woman to decide for herself whether or not she want to abort. My wife is pro choice, but she is also, for the most part, anti abortion. Why would you conclude that someone who supports a woman's right to control her own body is pro abortion?

    • Because
      May 16, 2014 - 08:12

      Because people are pro-choice. Period. Just because a bunch of evangelical morons try to paint a picture of people being pro-abortion doesn't make it true. It just makes the religious loonies look like a bunch of radical extremists which is what they are.

    • Ron
      May 16, 2014 - 11:04

      It is just semantics to make ones position sound more palatable.. Pro-choice = pro-women's right= pro-abortion = pro baby killing And Pro life = Anti woman's rights = anti choice = anti abortion All the same meaning, just trying to attach a different emotion to it

  • kyle
    May 16, 2014 - 06:21

    The totalitarian mind brooks no other opinion. It is on many levels puerile, underdeveloped and intolerant. The Shiny Pony is a gilded brat used to having his own way. Such a manchild is unfit for a responsible position. It is one thing to be a legislator, a debater, it is another thing to be an administrator with actual responsibilities. It takes more than a tossled head of hair to be PM, it takes a developed, tested brain underneath it. Justin Trudeau lacks experience and maturity. Most potheads do.

    • David Polk
      May 16, 2014 - 08:02

      I beg to differ. As I understand it, thr Liberal Party has adopted a "pro choice" policy. Therefore, candidates should support the Party on this issue. There are a number of Liberal policies and candidates should conform to them if they wish to represent the Party in an election.

  • Fence Sitting
    May 16, 2014 - 06:17

    There goes old Easter again fence sitting and saying nothing substantial.

  • plain and simple
    May 16, 2014 - 05:58

    I think treudeau shouldnt be voted in. Legalize pot and bring through abortions...lets bring up our kids in that kind of world. Moron

    • Sally Jean
      May 16, 2014 - 08:21

      Bringing through abortions..? What an uneducated comment. Abortion is legal in Canada. Trudeau is not trying to "bring through abortions". Also...buying illegal pot through unknown drug dealers and having coat hanger abortions would be a much better place to raise your kids.

  • Craig
    May 16, 2014 - 05:39

    Telling people to tow the line or your out is not the way the country is suppose to be run! It seems there are 2 party leaders in Ottawa that think people should just follow along no matter what they do!

    • Well Craig
      May 16, 2014 - 08:29

      Well Craig , isn't this what we Islanders do ??? no matter what . The truth hurts when it comes home sometimes . In my time , bringing this , the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Canada has done nothing but cause splitting the Canadian people & ruin the country in many way's .

    • Clean up your act
      May 16, 2014 - 16:44

      Craig, one does not "Tow" the line unless you're hauling rope. It is Toe" the line as in lining up at the starting line for a race. Also, it's "you're out" not "your out".

    • Craig
      May 16, 2014 - 19:35

      Life is that much better now I know which tow or toe to use!