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Friday, June 22, 2012

The delay of M-312: What does it mean?

In my ongoing series on what to expect while we’re expecting Motion 312, here is some more information, specifically about the delay in the second hour of debate and the vote. 

You will recall that the second hour of debate had been scheduled for June 7 with a vote for June 13. All indicators were that this motion was an embarrassment to the government and Mr. Woodworth’s attempt to re-open the abortion debate would fail miserably. In fact, a June 6, 2012 article in the Globe and Mail reported that a vote in favour of the motion would be considered a vote against the Prime Minister and Tory MPs were being urged to quash it.

That article had likely already gone to print on the night of June 5 when word came out very late that night that the vote was going to be delayed. The word was Mr. Woodworth was having a family medical emergency. In an email to supporters he explained that his mother was ill and added, “The new arrangement has personal benefit for me.”

The “personal benefit” he receives from the delay is that he gets the summer to lobby. According to Miriam Rycroft, Policy and Stakeholder Relations Officer with the NDP, Mr. Woodworth’s office is trying to book meetings with some of the male MP’s about M-312. The request for meetings states that he wants “to better educate his colleagues on the real issues within the bill.” He goes on to say that, “some issues have been distorted by the media and are not well understood.”

I think Canadians understand what’s going on with your motion just fine, Mr. Woodworth. Do I have to excerpt Gordon O’Connor’s speech against the motion in the House again?

Woodworth may be hoping to gain momentum from anti-choice activities happening over the summer. The fetus-mobile blood and guts road show isn’t winning any friends from what we can see, so I think this effort will fail.

The note that he is specifically approaching male MPs is telling. Apparently, as with his GOP brethren to the south, Mr. Woodworth thinks men are better able to think straight about women’s bodies.

But having said all that, the process undertaken to delay the motion seems a bit convoluted and needs a second look. Normal protocol would be that the House Leader’s office would deal with scheduling private member’s business. But this is not how it worked in this case. Mr. Woodworth swapped his motion with a Liberal to get the timing changed, which seems to indicate his request to delay the motion was turned down by the House Leader’s office already.

I have always found it mystifying that in spite of the Prime Minister’s insistence that he wants this issue buried, it lives on. I have wondered before on this blog if this means Mr. Harper slipping a bit in his control-fest. Did Woodworth do an end run around him by going to the Liberals for the switch? Possibly. But it is also entirely possible that the Conservatives are putting on another show and doing an end run around us, using another private member’s bill to appease their base on an issue that is not supported by the majority of Canadians. With the delay, they make the Christian right wing anti-choice base of the party happy, while at the same time being able to deny responsibility for the delay and the continued presence of this issue in the public. Good Game. Looked at from their side, this delay has a bright side both for the MP and the PM. But looked at from the pro-choice side and the side of the vast majority of Canadians who are pro-choice, every day this motion hangs around is another day for us to remind ourselves that this government is perfectly willing to put women's rights up for debate, to play politics with our health and our security, and raise the spectre of recriminalization.

The important thing to know is that the anti's haven’t given up on this. For the pro-choice side, this means we can’t get complacent. Continue to email your MPs and get petitions signed, knit wombs, and plan your actions. It’s not over.

Meanwhile, I'm still reeling from the Omnibus Budget Bill. Talk about shenanigans. I wouldn't put anything past this government. If you aren't already, follow ShitHarperDid on Facebook and search the hashtags #denounceharper and #blackoutspeakout on Twitter for more about the C-38, F-35s and other letter number combinations that will get your head spinning and make you wonder what kind of tin-pot dictatorship Canada is becoming thanks to Mr. Harper. 

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