P.E.I. Liberal MP says he will vote pro-life; Trudeau official says no

Teresa Wright
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P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay told The Guardian he expects to be permitted to vote pro-life in any future votes on abortion, but an official with leader Justin Trudeau’s office says that’s not the case.

A Liberal MP in Prince Edward Island says he expects to be permitted to vote pro-life in any future votes on abortion, but an official with leader Justin Trudeau’s office says that’s not the case.

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay says his understanding of Trudeau’s “grandfathering in” exception for sitting MPs would allow him to vote with his conscience if an abortion vote were held in the House of Commons.

“He’s indicated that I can vote whatever way I choose. I’m, I guess, what you call grandfathered,” MacAulay said in an interview with The Guardian.

“I have voted pro-life all the way through.”

Trudeau announced last month all candidates who run for the Liberal nomination in the 2015 federal election campaign must support the Liberal party’s pro-choice stance.

But he included a caveat for MPs elected before he became leader.

“The existing MPs who have been grandfathered in, to a certain extent, will be respected to a certain extent in their choices,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa last month.

MacAulay says he believes this will allow him to vote pro-life as he always has on the abortion issue.

“It does not affect me. I have done and voted the way that I wish to vote and will continue to do so.”

But Trudeau’s office is now clarifying the intent behind the leader’s abortion policy.

Liberal MPs will be expected to vote pro-choice, says Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications.

“Mr. Trudeau believes that everyone is welcome to their own personal views, but it is important that Canadians understand that Liberal MPs will be expected to stand up for women’s rights in the House with their votes,” Purchase said in an email to The Guardian Tuesday.

MacAulay has been loath to address the controversial topic of abortion, usually leaving media requests for comment on the matter unanswered.

Last week, The Guardian was finally able to get a response from MacAulay on the issue by tacking questions about it onto an interview on an unrelated matter.

MacAulay says he does not expect to have to worry too much about it, anyway.

“No party has dealt with this in any manner whatsoever anyhow in the last number of years and it is open, so I’m not disappointed with the situation that I’m in,” he said.

But the issue did come up in 2012 when Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth put forward a motion that aimed to create a parliamentary committee to review the Criminal Code’s definition of when life begins.

Many believed this motion was a thinly veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Ottawa.

MacAulay was one of three current Liberal MPs who voted in favour of this motion.

P.E.I.’s three other MPs indicated their views on Trudeau’s pro-choice stance last month.

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said he was surprised by it, but supports it, as he is pro-choice.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey is pro-life, however, and said he has personally struggled with it. But he said he will respect the courts and his constituents and will vote with the party.

Fisheries Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea also voted in favour of Woodworth’s motion in 2012.

Last month she criticized Trudeau’s stance on abortion as “rejecting any potential candidates that respect the sanctity of life.”




Organizations: House of Commons, Liberal MPs

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • don
    June 19, 2014 - 09:36

    P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay. must vote as the boy orders him to so in his heart he feels one way but he must LIE and vote against what he feels. is that a good leader ? that is a dictator and in a few years he will be on the list of the history of dictators just like Saddam.

  • Daisee
    June 18, 2014 - 21:39

    When did MP's only serve their masters rather than the constituents that put him there? This is all bass ackwards.

  • Estelle Scappatura
    June 18, 2014 - 17:10

    Justin is being very dictatorial. This isn't the democratic way. Everyone has a right to their beliefs without being suppressed. I am very disappointed in him. I don't believe his father would have taken this position.

  • reality
    June 18, 2014 - 14:56

    TO OBSERVER - trudeau-trudeau-the article is about trudeau - Please try to keep your mind on the topic

  • burton
    June 18, 2014 - 13:43

    Well, that didn't take long. He folded like a cheap suit.

  • Disgusted Islander
    June 18, 2014 - 12:44

    So, PEI, how do we like knowing we don't have a say in what our Liberal MPs do in the House of Commons? Why have a Liberal MP if all he can do is say "Good one Mister Trudeau, sir! You so good me no think!"

    • don
      June 19, 2014 - 09:39

      you will have a boy that wants to be a king just like his father did but the queen said NO. WAIT AND SEE..

  • apples
    June 18, 2014 - 12:42

    These Liberal MP'S want it both ways . If you believe in something that represents your constitutions then vote that way. Thier doesn't appear to be a man amoung the three. Do what is right or get voted out of office. Trudeau much like Ghiz never had a job and running Province into bankruptcy and Trudeau will do same if he is allowed. Stand up a be counted.

    • Right on the mark!!
      June 18, 2014 - 14:14

      Your comment is right on the mark! The three stooges have to be told what to do! What a group of MPs to represent PEI!!

  • hollinm
    June 18, 2014 - 12:24

    Once again Trudeau cannot open his mouth without sticking both feet in it. The fact is he grandfathered existing MPs but now he is saying they must vote the way he wants. Trudeau is looking for another fight within the Liberal caucus and he is going to get it if there is ever a vote on abortion.

  • Weallhavearighttolife
    June 18, 2014 - 10:45

    "a government for the new generation of acceptance and equality." Acceptance and equality? Really? Only if you believe what they believe apparently? So a "fetus\zygote" is not a human being? What exactly is it? A cat? A dog? It's insane that with modern technology we are still even allowing abortion to continue! We have ultrasound to see in utero. We have Doctors stating that babies in womb can indeed feel pain! We have countless stories of health professionals who have left the abortion industry because they just couldn't do it anymore! Women have died during the abortion process, Abortion providers have been caught on video deceiving women, many women having more then one abortion and so many more stories. Stop believing the lies! Canada's definition of a human being is 400 years old and we have no limits on abortion, right up to nine months! Seriously! Do you think maybe it's time to rethink that? This is a human rights issue, plain and simple! Which should include the rights of the baby! It's not health care, so why should people's tax dollars pay for it? " it's their body, why do you get to decide what's right for someone else's body?" Thank you Meh I couldn't have said it any better myself. It's your babies body, why should you be able to decide whether he or she lives or dies!! Please stop presuming that everyone who is pro-life is religious because it is not true! I would like to know how many so called pro-choice have actually researched abortion? Or are you simply blindly accepting what you have been fed through media! Pro-choice really is pro-abortion! You are either for murder or against it! There is no sitting on the fence on this issue! Perhaps it makes you feel better to believe the pro-choice lie? In response to "Facts count, not opinions. And the fact is women have a right to control their own bodies." Women do have the rights to their own body. But once they have conceived there is now another body to consider! What about the rights of the child they conceived?

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 10:59

      The rights of a fetus, which is not a human being as decided by the Supreme Court, never come before the rights of the woman. Let's see how a fetus would fair on its own... Seems like it's pretty reliant on the woman's body. It's not a separate person. Your entire post is baseless diatribe.

    • Maylane L. Wong
      June 18, 2014 - 18:49

      Is it not true that in its decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has charged Parliament with the responsibility of setting certain clear guidelines as to when an abortion is allowed? Unfortunately, this crucial point has been swept under the rug. It needs to be brought into the public square again in the House of Commons. A life or death decision such as abortion cannot be decided by a panel of nine individuals; but rather, by the people who are represented in Parliament by our elected MPs.

  • Cromwell
    June 18, 2014 - 10:38

    MacAulay was elected to represent his Island constituents, and not to merely reflect his own personal/religious beliefs. Has he, in fact, sought input from constituents? If not, he is on a slippery slope come the next election.

    • To Cromwell
      June 18, 2014 - 12:10

      There is no slippery slope when it comes to abortion. There are only two sides- no fence sitting. MP Macauley will vote with his conscience- no constituent has the right to dictate to him how to vote on this one. Thus is the connudrum when abortion becomes a political topic.

  • Trish1964
    June 18, 2014 - 09:33

    I support a Women"s right to choose but unless it is a medical issue I also support the taxpayers right not to pay for abortions willy nilly . A Health Issue is one thing that directly affects the Women's health .Abortion just because you made a personal mistake we should not pay for . Its called Personal Responsibility own it Ladies be responsible . I am quite sure this will not be a popular view but it is my point of view as yours are yours

    • slippery slope
      June 18, 2014 - 10:51

      So what if I don't want to pay for chemo for people with lung cancer? It was their decision to smoke right? I shouldn't have to pay for their mistake. Where do you draw the line?

  • reality
    June 18, 2014 - 09:17

    just like his father screwed around with fuddle duddle, the metric system, and other smoke screens -- so,too, his son will screw around with the "F" bomb ,pro choice and marijuana as smokescreens to the much more pressing economic problems that now exist !!! don't be stupid enough to get sucked into his web of arrogance

    • JEEZUS
      June 18, 2014 - 10:54

      Not a fan of the metric system? Yeah, it's not like it makes sense or anything... God, islanders can be backwards.

    • reality
      June 18, 2014 - 11:44

      To Jeez-- not a thing wrong with the metric system -you miss the whole point -trudeau will easily pull the wool over your eyes

    • Observer from the East
      June 18, 2014 - 12:48

      And are you insinuating that Harper is a better leader for this country than Trudeau? My dog would do a better job leading this country than Harper. Internationally, our image has plummeted under Harper, and in this country, we are more divided than ever. Yet, we still think he's the man for the economy... deluded many of us are...

    • obviously
      June 18, 2014 - 14:46

      Observer from the east, obviously you don't follow world or Canadian news in general or you would know Canada & Harper are VERY well respected in the world. It is Liberals who just can't accept it.

  • blasted
    June 18, 2014 - 09:13

    What's the use of a conscience if you allow a dictator to manipulate it? If Lawrence's conscience tells him to vote anti-abortion, then it's up to those who disagree to vote him out. It's not up to Trudeau to tell elected officials what to think. It's ironic that on the issue of reproductive choice, Trudeau is not allowing choice to his members. Not only that, he's backtracking on his reassurance to previously elected members.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 10:55

      Health care is not a matter of conscience. Decisions are based off of facts not the whims of Lawrence's conscience.

  • fmpsportsguy
    June 18, 2014 - 09:08

    I think we can solve the abortion debate once and for all, and it should be easy for all male pro life supporters to get on board with. I'm talking about male sterilization! By addressing the root cause of unwanted pregnancy, which is male sperm fertilizing a females egg,! Never will an unwanted baby be born, or a baby aborted again! This idea is so simple, so perfect I'm sure Mr macAuley and others will support my idea, right?

  • Meh
    June 18, 2014 - 09:05

    I respect Trudeau and his stance to let people run their own lives. Not really the place for a man to say pro-life when nature decided to give women labor and they have to go through pain every month... it's their body, why do you get to decide what's right for someone else's body? I'll be voting liberal... a government for the new generation of acceptance and equality.

    • Ron
      June 18, 2014 - 19:37

      I will agree it is a "women only" issue the day they stop killing unborn boys

  • Just saying
    June 18, 2014 - 08:22

    I respect all prolife views but MacAuly and the commenters on here are wrong once again. This is a matter of health care not conscience. Trudeau isn't dictating anything, he simply expects people to vote as per party policy. Do you expect and NDP to be anti union or a Tory to be pro tax? Your religious views don't count for anything at all when it comes to the health care of others. If a fetus/zygote was a human being you might have an argument, but that has been settled in Supreme Court, three times!

    • Not a health issue
      June 18, 2014 - 12:57

      If is not a health issue. It is abortion on demand - period. No need to quote Supreme court- if you need to get an abortion - you can get one. Why make this so complicated.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 13:36

      You really think women considering abortion go into clinics and come out in fifteen minute having had an abortion? No consultation? No appointment? You are completely clueless.

  • Anne Hemphill
    June 18, 2014 - 08:12

    Thanks Lawrence for supporting life.

    • Yo
      June 18, 2014 - 09:01

      Who are you to decide on peoples rights, it depends on the situation... People need to butt out and mind their own business.

    • Janet McDonald
      June 18, 2014 - 14:18

      Thank you Mr. Macaulay for having a Conscience and standing up for life. You are a good Person.

    • @yo
      June 18, 2014 - 16:48

      Talk about rights. Trudeau is trying to take away the rights of his MP's to make a choice. There is no equality there whatsoever.

  • voter
    June 18, 2014 - 08:02

    he was certainly grand fathered in to his present position by people in his family , by island liberals like g clements and by the party faithful and the family compact !!

    • To voter
      June 18, 2014 - 12:59

      What's your point! Jealous much?

  • Agree
    June 18, 2014 - 07:52

    I agree. I think the same re MacAulay.

  • Fed up
    June 18, 2014 - 07:45

    Good for Mr MacAulay! Isn't it wonderful the federal Liberals have this DICTATOR leading their party. Heaven help us if this marajuana smoking Control Freak ever becomes PM!!!!

    • calgary resident
      June 18, 2014 - 08:15

      Unlike the current PM, who happens to be my MP?

  • dd
    June 18, 2014 - 07:44

    That's good to see someone stick up for their values even though it might cost them their job. Why is Trudeau doing this anyways? People should be allowed to be pro life or choice. Who does he think he is , anyways? Is that not like communism , when someone is not allowed to have their own opinion?

    • JEEZUS
      June 18, 2014 - 08:53

      People ARE allowed to be pro life, they are just expected to vote pro choice because otherwise they are imposing their beliefs. Pro choice leaves the choice to the individual, inclusive of the choice to be pro life. You can't force your constituents to be pro life. MPs opinions don't count for shit in medical issues. Facts count, not opinions. And the fact is women have a right to control their own bodies.

  • Elected by people
    June 18, 2014 - 07:43

    MacAulay was elected by the people to represent his district. He was not elected by Trudeau. Party leader or not, Trudeau does not have the right to tell MacAulay how to vote on any issue. When a leader TELLS someone how to vote, they are not a leader but a dictator.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 11:09

      He hasn't dictated anything. Trudeau as leader of the party has the right to establish party policy, which was passed at the last Liberal convention. If Lawrence doesn't like the policy, maybe he should run for the Tories.

  • Well Done Lawrence
    June 18, 2014 - 07:35

    Well done Lawrence , I'm glad to see at least one of you stand up to this pup . He has to learn that you work for us & he is not a King . Personally I believe he is a very poor choice for party leader . Just a hand fed pup like Robert that is lacking in experience & common sense .

  • hmattl
    June 18, 2014 - 07:30

    When is this guy retiring ? He overstayed his welcome!!

    • apples
      June 18, 2014 - 12:25

      You mean Mr. Trudeau? I agree!!

  • biddlebog
    June 18, 2014 - 06:31

    Mr. Trudeau is forcing his views on Canada much like Stephen Harper , I am starting to think he will be just another Robert Ghiz ...run Canada into the ground much Like Ghiz did to our fair Island.If Trudeau gets a mandate by the end of his first term there will be assisted suicides being allowed in Canada. Once we have assisted suicides where does it end then , the old lose there mind we put them down like sick pets, We are on slippery slope now in Canada with Trudeau my way or the highway attitude..

    • Otto
      June 18, 2014 - 08:55

      You don't understand how the world works, do you?

    • Ironic
      June 18, 2014 - 08:57

      You lost all credibility criticizing Trudeau when you said "forcing his views" Abortion is only a continuing issue because of pressure from religious groups "forcing their views" on Canada.

    • Again
      June 18, 2014 - 09:11

      If you didn't know Trudeau is pro-choice he believes that you have the right to choose and not shove your beliefs down someone's throat when it's not your place. Pro-choice is what we need the media is making him sound terrible but really he's just saying you don't have the right to control someone else... accept it. You're being a bit irrational. Also I'm 18 this is how the world needs to change for my future.

    • don
      June 18, 2014 - 09:26

      otto. you are not thinking. biddlebog is right all mla's will be forced to vote how the leader tells them to or else. same as ghiz and harper. plus justen will pass the law that weed,lsd,speed,acid etc will be legal to be sold in canada. so if thats what you want for canada and your kids,grandkids then vote for the liberal "sudamn " plus you will have every druggie in the world coming to canada, plus all the tfw will be aloud as justen already tried to get special treatment for a restaurant in his home riding. and remember he also said his main area will be que not all of canada.