Abortion views will not be imposed on party members: Harper

Teresa Wright
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he does not believe his party’s views on abortion should be imposed on party members.

Harper was responding to a P.E.I. Liberal MP reversing his position Wednesday on how he will vote in Parliament if abortion is raised after party leader Justin Trudeau clarified that all Liberal MPs will be expected to vote pro-choice.

The prime minister said today he does not wish to reopen the abortion debate, but indicated he does not believe in imposing party policies on MPs in matters of conscience.

“The reality is, in public life there are issues that engage people’s moral views, engage their faith, engage their most deeply-held beliefs,” Harper said during his visit in Charlottetown today.

“It’s our party’s view that on those issues, you cannot impose views on people.”

Earlier this week, The Guardian published an article in which Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay said he planned to vote pro-life in any future votes on abortion despite the fact Trudeau announced a month ago party members must support the Liberal party's pro-choice stance.

At that time, Trudeau included a “grandfathering in” caveat for sitting MPs.

MacAulay said he understood this to mean he would be allowed to vote with his conscience on abortion, adding he is “pro-life all the way through.”

But Trudeau clarified this yesterday, explaining 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, 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 then issued a statement Wednesday, reversing his position.

“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 yesterday in an email to The Guardian.

Harper said today he would “let them keep arguing about it,” but was clear he would not be following Trudeau’s lead.

“You have to let people be able to express and represent their own views, and our party does do that, and we have people with a range of views on that particular question,” Harper said.

The prime minister is in P.E.I. to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. He announced funding for the celebrations and re-announced funding to help renovate Province House, the building where the Fathers of Confederation met in 1864 to discuss the formation of Canada.

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

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

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Democracy means keep Wombs Out of Criminal Law
    June 19, 2014 - 21:03

    So many Canadians born and raised think that they understand what a democracy is. They think that we should still enforce religious moral edicts through criminal law. Not the case in a democracy. We don't shoot at moral offenders anymore; we let rabbis, priests, elders, the healthcare system, etc. address complex moral issues. We don't need the cops putting women in jail for abortion. Not the same as approving abortion. Democracies don't assume that the PM is not God's representative on earth and that taxpayers don't have to fund warehousing moral "criminals".

  • just sick
    June 19, 2014 - 20:01

    MacAulay has really betrayed us all on this, 25 years of holding a position and overnight he crawls or slinks into a position dictated to him by an airhead. I have never been more ashamed of a man who I really like, in my life.

  • don
    June 19, 2014 - 16:04

    They would still be expected to vote pro-choice, regardless of their personal feelings, Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday. that is a dictator not a leader of the people. he is more like Sudan hassen. and that is what you want to lead canada? now ghiz will have o be the same or else he will have to fallow his master the head bully of the liberals.

    • Don, stop while your ahead
      June 19, 2014 - 17:45

      The liberals adopted pro choice as their party platform at the last convention. For Trudeau to expect MPs to vote with the party platform is pretty reasonable. Every party leader expects it. Whipping votes is not dictatorial, it's in his job description. PS. Sudan Hassen isn't a real person.

  • Vote Buyer
    June 19, 2014 - 15:27

    Classic telling the backwards voters of PEI what they want to hear. Hopefully the electorate of PEI can see through this.

    • Garth Staples
      June 19, 2014 - 18:05

      I think you mean they can see through Liberal MP MacAulay!