Lawrence MacAulay today becomes the longest serving MP from P.E.I. He has now served 9,251 days, or over 25 years. Here he is shown in a file photo speaking in the House of Commons.
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.
“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 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.