A Harper Majority Government Would Pass Anti-Abortion Restrictions
By Joyce Arthur, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
September 11, 2008
To see an updated list of anti-choice MPs after the October 2008 election, click here.
Courtesy of a survey of MPs by Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), the ranks of known anti-choice MP’s in the current Parliament have just swelled. In 2006, we estimated that 32% of all MPs were anti-choice based on their records. Thanks to a recent list published by CLC, that number is now known to be at least 40%. About 74% of Conservative and 28% of Liberal MPs are anti-choice. In addition, the total number of anti-choice MPs could be as high as 49% if votes for Bill C-484 are counted as part of an anti-choice record (94% of Conservatives and 29% of Liberals).
Prime Minister Harper is eager to dissociate the Conservative Party from the abortion issue. The unofficial kickoff to his election campaign was a repudiation of Bill C-484 (“Unborn Victims of Crime Act”) by the Conservative Justice Minister, along with a firm promise not to legislate on abortion or introduce fetal rights. With this move, Harper chose to abandon his right-wing base on the abortion issue and instead, pander to feminists and left-leaning groups. Harper wants nothing to do with the abortion issue, because he knows that any whiff of anti-abortionism is political suicide in an election. Not only do the media pounce like sharks on any anti-choice misstep, a majority of Canadians are pro-choice. According to a June 2008 Angus Reid poll, 49% of Canadians think abortion should be legal under any circumstances, 42% want it legal in at least some cases, and only 5% would ban it outright.
Nevertheless, Campaign Life Coalition has decided to sabotage the chances of a Conservative majority victory by surveying MPs and publicizing a stupendously long list of 108 anti-abortion MPs, most of them Conservatives. Actually, the list comprises those who oppose the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, but it’s safe to assume that MP’s who take a public position against the award have a problem with abortion rights. This is in defiance of the sentiments of most Canadians since one of the few reputable polls done (Ipsos Reid, July) found that 65% of Canadians support the Order of Canada award for Dr. Morgentaler.
The large increase of known anti-choice MPs in Parliament spells trouble for abortion rights if Harper wins a majority Conservative government. We could easily be looking at a new Parliament with a clear majority of anti-choice MPs. Not only will they have the power to pass anti-abortion bills, they can be counted upon to use it. Prior to the election call, at least three private member bills were in play, which would either restrict abortion or endanger abortion rights. These bills will probably be re-introduced in the next session, along with a government bill making pregnancy an aggravating factor in assaults on women. We have not seen the wording of this latter bill, and some women’s groups fear it could also lead to restrictions on women’s rights.
Further, the Liberal caucus harbours a frightening number of anti-choice MPs – more than a quarter of them – 28%, compared to the 20% known in 2006. Stéphane Dion needs to make clear to his MPs and candidates that the Liberal Party is officially pro-choice. He must rein in his anti-choice MPs by requiring them to vote against anti-abortion bills, or at least absent themselves from abortion-related votes.
Most Canadians will not vote for the Conservatives if they fear that Harper will allow restrictions against abortion to pass. We need to get the word out that a majority Conservative government would do just that.
List of Anti-Choice MPs
Note: Please email email@example.com if you have additional information or any correction for this list. Thank you!)
|Total Anti-choice MPs||At least: 123 of 304 (40%) |
* As many as: 148 of 304 (49%)
|Conservative Party (anti-choice)||At least: 95 of 127 (75%) |
* As many as: 119 of 127 (94%)
|Liberal Party (anti-choice)||At least: 26 of 95 (27%)|
* As many as: 27 of 95 (28%)
|Other (anti-choice)||2 Independents (out of 4)|
|Total Pro-Choice MPs||** Approximately 125 of 304 (41%)|
|Total MPs with unknown stance||Between 30 and 54, of 304 (9-18%)|
* The higher figures include 24 Conservative MP’s and 1 Liberal MP who voted in favour of Bill C-484 but who have no other known public position on abortion, including no position on the Order of Canada award. It’s possible they are not anti-choice, However, they are included in the list below.
** This estimate includes Conservative and Liberal MPs with a public pro-choice position, as well as all Bloc Quebecois and NDP MP’s on the assumption they are pro-choice.
Members of Parliament
|Designated Anti-Choice During|
2004 or 2006 Federal Election (1)
Order of Canada
for Dr. M (2)
Bill C-484 at Second Reading (3)
|Conservative Party of Canada|
|David L. Anderson||√||√||√|
|John Baird *||No response||√|
|Jean-Pierre Blackburn *||No response||√|
|Steven Blaney *||Refused to say||√|
|Ron Cannan *||Refused to say||√|
|Michael Chong *||No response||√|
|Tony Clement *||No response||√|
| Joe Comuzzi||√||√||√|
|Dean Del Mastro||√||√||√|
|David Emerson *||No response||√|
|Diane Finley *||Refused to say||√|
|Jim Flaherty||√||No response||Absent|
|Steven Fletcher *||No response||√|
|Jacques Gourdes *||No response||√|
|Helena Guergis *||No response||√|
|Jay Hill||√||No response||√|
|Betty Hinton *||Refused to say||√|
|Rahim Jaffer *||No response||√|
|Brian Jean||√||Refused to say||√|
|Gerald Keddy *||No response||√|
|Denis Lebel *||No response||√|
|Gary Lunn||√||Refused to say||√|
|Dave MacKenzie *||No response||√|
|Fabian Manning *||No response||√|
|Inky Mark *||No response||√|
|Ted Menzies||√||Refused to say||√|
|Rob Merrifield||√||Refused to say||√|
|James Moore||√||No response||√|
|Rick Norlock *||No response||√|
|Deepak Obhrai||√||No response||√|
|Bev Oda *||No response||√|
|Christian Paradis *||No response||√|
|Daniel Petit *||No response||√|
|Scott Reid||√||No response||√|
|Gary Schellenberger *||Refused to say||√|
|David Tilson *||No response||√|
|David Van Kesteren||√||√||√|
|Peter Van Loan||√||√|
|Mark Eyking||√||Refused to say||Absent|
|John Godfrey||√||Refused to say||Nay|
|Charles Hubbard||√||No response||√|
|Gurbax Malhi||√||No response||√|
|Lloyd St. Amand *||No response||√|
|Joe Volpe||√||Refused to say||Absent|
* These are the 24 Conservative MP’s and 1 Liberal MP who voted in favour of Bill C-484 but who have no other known public position on abortion, including no position on the Order of Canada award. It’s possible they are not anti-choice, but they are included in the above list. (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional information.)
Column 1 — Anti-choice MPs were listed during the 2004 or 2006 election. Criteria: They had an anti-choice voting record, or had publicly spoken at or attended events organized by anti-choice groups, or had publicly stated they are “pro-life” or would support abortion only in limited circumstances. Note: Conservative MP Gordon O’Connor has been removed from the 2006 anti-choice list for voting against Bill C-484 and supporting Dr. M’s Order of Canada.
Column 2 — Whether the MP publicly opposed the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, according to a survey conducted by Campaign Life Coalition. Column 3 — Whether the MP voted in favour of Bill C-484 (“Unborn Victims of Crime Act”) at 2nd reading in Parliament on March 5, 2008. Note: Some pro-choice MPs voted in favour of Bill C-484, including Peter Stoffer (NDP), and Liberal MP’s John Cannis, Raymond Chan, Roy Cullen, Sukh Dhaliwal, Francis Scarpallegia, Raymond Simard, and Roger Valley.
- Over 100 MPs Oppose Morgentaler Order of Canada – List Released Today, LifeSiteNews.com, August 28, 2008
- House of Commons, 39th Parliament, 2nd session, Journals, No. 60, March 5, 2008, (scroll towards the end of the page for voting record on Bill C-484)
- Conservative Minority Poses a Danger to Abortion Rights, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, June 23, 2006
- Candidate Evaluations / Questionnaire Results – Federal Election Canada 2006, Campaign Life Coalition
- Is There a Hidden Conservative Party Agenda on Abortion? You Decide. Katherine McDonald, Action Canada for Population and Development, Jan 13, 2006
- Canadian Post-Election Analysis by Action Canada for Population & Development, Katherine McDonald, Jan 26, 2006
- Post Election 2006: First Conservative Cabinet, Action Canada for Population & Development, Feb 6, 2006
- A Discouraging Victory, Joyce Arthur, Pro-Choice Press, Spring/Summer 2004