Conservative MP Jay Aspin (Nipissing — Timiskaming) says that his colleague Mark Warawa (Langley) is a “rogue” for bringing up abortion. Last week a parliamentary subcommittee ruled that Warawa’s private member’s motion, M-408, which would express disapproval of the practice of sex-selective abortion and gendercide, was non-votable. Warawa has been vocal about the decision and the Conservative party’s attempt to prevent him from speaking up on the issue. Aspin is not impressed saying: “If these rogue members want to do what they want to do, they have to suffer the consequences and that’s all I have to say … [Warawa] is a rogue member for this particular issue.” Aspin is upset that Warawa is violating party policy.
But Aspin is wrong that Warawa’s actions violate party policy. The Conservative Party’s principles and platform and Stephen Harper’s own words only say that a Conservative government will not introduce abortion-related legislation. In 2005, the Conservative Party policy convention voted 54 per cent to supported Harper’s position that “ a Conservative government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion.” There is no position on private members introducing bills and motions and indeed the party supports the right of MPs to vote their conscience on moral issues. Perhaps Aspin doesn’t know the difference between the two and thinks that all parliamentarians are part of the government (the executive).
Of course, there is another possible explanation for Aspin thinking Warawa is going against party policy; perhaps Aspin thinks it is party policy to support gendercide. If that is true, Harper and his colleagues should be clear and say so.
The CBC report does not state what Aspin has in mind as a “consequence” but one presumes it would be minimally a loss of parliamentary speaking privileges and perhaps as severe as being removed from caucus. If Aspin is advocating expulsion from the party, I hope that he would interpret his principle broadly and boot out of caucus every MP with any inclination to support Warawa’s bill. With dozens of pro-life MPs in caucus, following the intolerant logic of Aspin’s position, the Conservatives would have fewer MPs than the NDP. Pro-life MPs need to push back against the likes of Aspin and the Prime Minister’s Office and grassroots social conservatives need to let the Conservative Party they cannot take their support for granted anymore. Harper (and Aspin) needs to understand that without social conservatives, there is no Conservative government. We are not asking for a ban on abortion, merely for the right to bring up topics related to abortion and the right to debate them without political interference. If that is too much for Aspin, he might find that he does not have enough colleagues for his party to form government.