P.E.I. Liberal MP reverses pro-life voting intentions

Teresa Wright
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Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay speaking in the House of Commons. File photo.

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay now says he will have to vote with the party's pro-choice stance

A P.E.I. Liberal MP has reversed his position on how he will vote in the House of Commons if abortion is raised.

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay told The Guardian late last week he believed he would be permitted to vote pro-life in any future votes on abortion despite the fact Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has stated party members must support the Liberal party’s pro-choice stance.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, after a story appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian detailing his comments, MacAulay issued a statement and a series of tweets backpedaling on his previous statements.

CLICK HERE FOR A RELATED STORY: P.E.I. Liberal MP says he will vote pro-life; Trudeau officials say no.


“I am personally pro-life, and have long held these beliefs; however, I accept and understand the party position regarding a woman’s right to choose,” MacAulay said in an emailed statement to The Guardian.

Last Friday, the P.E.I. MP and former solicitor general of Canada, told The Guardian he believed Trudeau’s ‘grandfathering in’ exception for sitting MPs would allow him to vote with his conscience if an abortion vote were held in Parliament.

MacAulay cited Trudeau’s comments last month that sitting MPs would be ‘grandfathered in to a certain extent’ on the issue.

“He’s indicated that I can vote whatever way I choose. I’m, I guess, what you call grandfathered,” MacAulay said last week, adding that he is ‘pro-life all the way through.’

“I am personally pro-life, and have long held these beliefs; however, I accept and understand the party position regarding a woman’s right to choose,” Lawrence MacAulay, by email

“I have done and voted the way that I wish to vote and will continue to do so.”

But on Tuesday, an official in Trudeau’s office informed The Guardian all Liberal MPs will be expected to vote pro-choice.

“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,” said Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications.

The issue was picked up by national media Wednesday, who questioned Trudeau on it during a scrum in Ottawa Wednesday.

He said his ‘grandfathering in’ caveat was meant only to allow sitting anti-abortion MPs to seek the nominations in their ridings.

They would still be expected to vote pro-choice, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter, Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday.

“The policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for women’s rights to choose.”

MacAulay, it seems, has accepted this clarification of the party’s voting policy on abortion.

“Despite my personal beliefs, I understand that I will have to vote the party position should this issue ever come up in the House of Commons,” he said in his emailed statement Wednesday.

He issued the same statement through a series of posts on the social media site, Twitter.




Organizations: The Guardian, P.E.I. Liberal MP, House of Commons

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • The Truth
    June 19, 2014 - 19:24

    Perhaps someone shed light on the topic for him! Really people... I am prolife too but when you have a woman in a severely abusive relationship and she gets pregnant, well now you have 2 people and no way out... and it shall get harder with each pregnancy. Unless you've been subject to it, don't judge what's right for others. I totally agree with Good For Him and you should too!!!

    • Truth Seeker
      June 21, 2014 - 14:34

      How does the circumstances of a person's beginning alter their humanity to the point of being killed even though they are innocent? Our discussion must move away from these emotional scenarios so that we can use reason and logic. Reason and logic tell us that we can never be 100% sure that a fetus in not a human person, at any stage of development. How can anyone pass a death sentence on a totally innocent human being? There is no circumstance in which we can DELIBERATELY kill such a powerless human.

  • Nigel Burgoyne
    June 19, 2014 - 17:48

    I just hope Lawrence does not take a page out of Gail Shea's book on how to vote your principles. When her principles were tested on the EI bill and changes to fisheries she hid under her desk until the vote was over. Must have dropped her pen or something and missed the vote by accident.

  • Bill Meeker
    June 19, 2014 - 17:41

    Bob From Cardigan, the only way Lawrence will get a senate seat is with a Liberal prime minister. Did Harper change sides?

  • Big Joe
    June 19, 2014 - 16:01

    You should retire, Lawrence. You have been riding the political wave for long enough and your fat pension is waiting for you. Besides, if you can't vote on issues (bills) that the majority of your constituents support, then why be a lemming by following the leader. You keep jumping back and forth on this issue so do yourself a favour and don't bother running next time. People wil respect you more for making that decision.

    • Aaron
      June 20, 2014 - 10:21

      I believe the majority are pro choice

  • Bill
    June 19, 2014 - 10:59

    And so Mr. Trudeau's house of cards starts to tumble. I believe had mentioned that the Conservatives should not dictate the choices of their MPs, now he is depriving his MPs of personal choice on voting issues. It also shows without a doubt that no matter how popular and long an MP sits, they are still an MP and will do nothing unless it is to tow the party line and ensure their own seat.

  • I Seem To Have It Wrong
    June 19, 2014 - 10:31

    I seem to have the wrong impression of what democracy is suppose to be . I always thought that voting for a certain MLA was picking the best to represent me & my want's . Not voting for a party per say that forces my person to vote against my wishes with out regard as to why they were sent there in the first place . Where is the Democracy gone that my father went to war to make sure you & I had a choice . Time to go to independent MLA's that can join together & form a government of free voting members whose main interest is the people that put them there & not a Red - Blue or Orange Dictator' calling all the shots on everything . We should have a separate vote to decide who we (as the people ) want as Prime Minister regardless of color or party

  • John Baltic
    June 19, 2014 - 09:26

    I have lost an incredible amount of respect for Lawrence MacAulay. I had always thought of him a man of conviction and of substance. As it turns out he's neither and can be bought and manipulated by the Justin Bieber of politics.

  • Gerry MacDonald
    June 19, 2014 - 09:14

    Reminds me of the saying that some politicians would sell their souls to get re-elected?

  • Good for him!
    June 19, 2014 - 08:47

    I have my beliefs and live my life accordingly however I respect your beliefs enough not to impose mine on you. So simple really.

  • Disgruntled Kings CO.resident
    June 19, 2014 - 08:17

    And all along he was chastizing GAIL SHEA as a trained seal of her party and demonizing HARPER along the way....... Now this embarassing turn around and HE is now doing the same(it's called party loyalty)..2yrs a MP or 25 years a MP you are NO different.....after 25 years it is time for a Liberal candidate change. You should never mix relegion and politics ,the same as you don't mix relegion and law.MR TRUDEAU is starting to show his colours and people better realize he is not the Golden Boy or the saviour of the Liberal battered dynasty.HARPER will still be a front runner come election time..the country has changed ,it is time PEI elected more than just Liberals and benefited from it like Prince County has under Shea. The riding deserves better than someone who is grandfathered in every election.Time for a change.

  • too bad
    June 19, 2014 - 07:44

    Too bad the MPs are not allowed to think on their own or to consider their constituents. They must adhere to their Grand Master, or be cast out. This would have been a great moment for Lawrence to make a real statement but he lost that chance.

  • Peter
    June 19, 2014 - 07:03

    Anti-Abortion and/or Pro-Life mean" The Choice is made for you ....Period!" Pro-Choice means "Make your own Choice". What is it about the word "Choice" that some of these posters don't seem to understand?

  • Peter
    June 19, 2014 - 06:45

    “I am personally pro-life, and have long held these beliefs; however, I accept and understand the party position regarding a woman’s right to choose,” MacAulay said In plain English, think this interprets to: I've made my choice, and I want to force my choice on every one else and stop a woman from having a choice of her own, but I'm being prevented from doing so.

    • I Choose my way
      June 19, 2014 - 08:49

      What's sad is that a former solicitor general of Canada cannot understand his party's directives and the CHOICES he has. Duffy couldn't figure out the forms for eligibility, MacAulay can't understand what his party is promoting and what he himself can and cannot CHOOSE to do. Sad. Sad. Sad.

  • Janet Macdonald
    June 19, 2014 - 05:25

    Wow Lawrence i think you better retire now after back paddling on this issue,

    • bob from cardigan
      June 19, 2014 - 07:43

      i guess you didnt hear that lawrence was offered a senate position if he steps donw for the king pin robert to run in his riding? you people dont follow the pulse?

  • Joe Doe
    June 19, 2014 - 01:36


  • Jon
    June 18, 2014 - 21:49

    We've come to expect this from Harper but disappointing that the guy that wants to be our next PM is no different. It must be near retirement time for MacAulay when he flops that quickly on an issue

    • Garth Staples
      June 19, 2014 - 05:57

      Just to get your facts straight dear Jon: PM Harper DID NOT impose his will on the last vote re abortion in the Commons. In fact he voted to maintain the current law and others in his party voted for changes. The leader of the Liberal Party is the 'Little Dictator': interfering in candidate selection and now an MPs personal obligation to himself. MacAulay is weak in not standing up for his own principles or is this all a political charade on his part?

  • Wayne Guindon
    June 18, 2014 - 21:43

    What the Liberal party is REALLY DOING is promoting women's WRONGS!

  • Henry Sow
    June 18, 2014 - 21:13

    Jellyfish served in Cardigan

  • sickened
    June 18, 2014 - 20:52

    MacAulay is a good decent man who has been dedicated to his party for years, now he gets told what he can do, Trudeau says marijuana is good because he and his brother used it, MacAulay says it is good, now after holding a belief in the right to life of all for a 25 year career in politics he denies his belief and will go along because he is told to do so. He did not come to this position because of some personal change, no, he is being told to come to this position. Even for pro-abortion people this should be concerning, if people like MacAulay can be told by their leader what they must believe then what happens when Trudeau gets it wrong, does everyone have to go along because he says it is so. He has made 3 major policy announcements completely without any input of his caucus, legalize marijuana, absolute support for abortion with no restrictions and kicked senators out of the party even though they say they are still liberals. This guy is completely controlling and he is making even his strongest supporters impudent.

  • Flip- Flop
    June 18, 2014 - 20:11

    What a spineless MP; one with absolutely no principles at all, and one, who only wants to run in the next election! What a woos!!

  • heather
    June 18, 2014 - 19:26

    So I guess this means Robert is going to have to wait till they find another way to get rid of Lawrence

  • Islander
    June 18, 2014 - 19:04

    I am from the Island and for some reason I thought MP's reflected their riding....that's a personal vote...not a constituent vote...that is not representing the woman of your riding...shame on you.

  • Well Well Well
    June 18, 2014 - 18:48

    Well Lawrence , when you are running around King's county for photo op's . I hope you are doing it with your head down in shame . You have shown by this movement that you haven't any backbone or morals . I will never look at you again as a man , just the wimp that you have shown yourself to be . You of all people with the years you have been elected could have stood up to Trudeau & kept your pride . I guess when people say its time for you to go , they are right . Your not what I want to represent me in Ottawa . No more votes coming from this family .

  • Rita Joseph
    June 18, 2014 - 18:43

    In general, a true conscience is formed over a long period of seeking what is right and good. It involves inquiring, listening, learning, reasoning as objectively as possible according to moral principles rather than feelings, putting aside personal or career benefits, and giving the matter serious and prudential consideration. And when a truthful conscience is formed, it is the nature of that conscience that it is not easily bribed or intimidated or corrupted or changed. It is not susceptible to the social conditioning. psychological manipulation or expulsion from one's party. It is self-contradictory to hold "personal" pro-life "beliefs" and to hold at the same time a belief in "a woman's right to choose" death for her unborn child. Objective reason says that both these positions cannot be morally right This is a perversion of conscience, a rejection of the duty of conscience to discern objective moral truth. Biology, embryology, fetal surgery, ultrasound technology, and examination of the human remains of an aborted child all tell us that this child, selected to be aborted, is a human being, belonging to the human family. Those who deny objective moral truth are holocaust deniers. They should be accorded no credibility, and trusted with no position of authority in a democratic society.

    • Sorry Rita, but
      June 18, 2014 - 22:41

      A skin cell or hair is a member of the 'human family'. But they, like an embryo, is not a human being. You are misusing the language to disguise the flaws in your arguments.

  • justin
    June 18, 2014 - 18:16

    I guess the voters including myself will have to reverse our stance on voting for Mr. MacAulay also. I actually thought this man maybe stood for something and have voted for him several times in the past. But really Lawrence how could you change your stance on something as important as the life of a unborn baby. Unbelievable and disgusting Lawrence!

  • A Liberal true and true!!
    June 18, 2014 - 18:16

    One of three stooges is too afraid to stand on his own; and wants to run again in the next election. I hope that the voters of Cardigan FINALLY send him to retirement at last!!!

  • Greta McGuigan
    June 18, 2014 - 18:13

    Last Good man gone down. Broken

  • Sean Matty
    June 18, 2014 - 17:26

    Oh my, all the pearl clutching on this board, someone get the smelling salts out quick.... I mean who ever heard of a party leader defending and promoting a plank in the party constitution. Must be shocking for all the Tory "free spirit" MPs, what with all open, non whipped votes cast since 2008. Hmmm that's funny, google must be broken because it only lists 3 in the Hansard for the past 8 years. Has to be a mistake because everyone knows tory supporters are always so political astute.

  • Garth Staples
    June 18, 2014 - 16:35

    Talk about principles. Talk about being a member of the 'Little Dictator's ' Liberal Party. What will they 'feed' us next?

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 16:47

      Women's health care isn't decided on by personal principle, it's decided on the basis of facts and reason.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 16:52

      There's a much bigger dictator living at 24 Sussex.

    • Good call
      June 18, 2014 - 19:32

      I agree, Harper is a dictator. It's really easy to tell by his insistence for stating his positions in elections and then winning those elections. Only dictators do that.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 22:46

      Is that the same election he was charged with fraud over? Trudeau's being called a dictator for establishing party policy and saying it will be a whipped vote. Harper has a lot more whipped votes on his record. Ask one of the Tories muzzled backbenchers what they think.

  • rita
    June 18, 2014 - 15:48

    what a wuss, - answering the call of the dictator Trudeu, - some democracy they display, glad we have a choice when we go to the polls , - and I AM PRO-CHOICE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME A FIRM BELIEVER IN FREE CHOICE AND DEMOCRACY.

    • Just sayin
      June 18, 2014 - 16:50

      So you're pro choice but are for an MP voting against abortion because of his religion, and ignoring all reason and factual evidence? That's not democracy, that's theocracy.

    • Jonny
      June 18, 2014 - 17:05

      The democratic thing to do is to provide abortion access. It has no affect on those who disagree. Voting to violate your constituents rights is not free choice. CaPitALiZatiOn hAS No eFFeCt on tHe VaLIDiTY of YouR sTATeMeNT.

    • Yes Rita
      June 18, 2014 - 20:35

      Totally agree. Free choice & democracy must rule as otherwise we are screwed. Doesn't matter what side of the fence we are on, re pro choice - this is about free vote & not kowtowing to some inept leader saying vote for what I say & nothing else.

  • enough already
    June 18, 2014 - 15:46

    The jelly fish has spoken!

  • cardigan red
    June 18, 2014 - 15:43

    Gone, Gone, Gone

  • voter
    June 18, 2014 - 15:26

    typical PARTY PUPPET

  • ha ha
    June 18, 2014 - 15:08

    My guess? Trudeau said do what he says or you can't run in the next election.

  • flipflop
    June 18, 2014 - 15:07

    he'd vote against wood islands closing if he was told to

  • don
    June 18, 2014 - 14:59

    yes you are now a good little puppet. and you guys have the nerve to talk about the PM being a bully. what the hell is the little boy that is now your master? and i bet you go to church like you really believe in god? well if you do then you are a lier read the 6th commandment. thou shall not kill.