Conservative MP Mark Warawa dispute has taken the issue beyond abortion and into the realm of free speech for MPs
Do we elect MPs to represent our local area in Ottawa or do we elect MPs to represent Ottawa in our local areas?
That question is at the heart of the debate going on this week in the capital. Conservative MP Mark Warawa, who represents the riding of Langley, B.C., rose in the Commons to say his privileges as an MP were being infringed. Warawa complained to the speaker of the House that he was blocked from presenting a statement in the Commons because the higher ups in his party did not like it.
This story cannot be told without acknowledging Warawa is a pro-life MP opposed to abortion. His statement was going to touch on the abortion issue and a motion he hoped to have voted on, asking his fellow MPs to vote with him in condemning the practice of aborting girls simply because they are girls.
His motion would not have changed a single law if it had passed.
It would have simply been a statement that MPs do not like the practice of killing baby girls in the womb just for being girls.
His member’s statement likewise would not have changed a thing.
Still he has been prevented from presenting either. His fellow MPs declared his motion non-votable despite assurances from parliamentary legal advisers that it met all the rules. His party stopped his motion.
The reason for this is some MPs don’t want to talk about abortion. Ever.
Abortion is considered too controversial. Never mind that last week MPs passed a bill adding transgendered individuals to a long list of protected groups in the Criminal Code and human rights legislation with nary a peep. Aborting girls for being girls is the controversial topic.
But now this dispute has taken the issue above and beyond abortion and into the realm of free speech for MPs.
When Warawa declared his privileges as an MP were violated, he asked the speaker to fix the problem by allowing MPs more freedom, not simply taking lists from the parties.
In response, the Conservative Whip Gordon O’Connor rose to tell the speaker that he should not interfere, that MPs were players on the team, party officials were the coaches and the speaker was the referee who should mind his own business.
Is that what our MPs have become, mere players on a team?
In 1774, the British statesman Edmund Burke, speaking before a crowd of voters, said an MP should give great weight to the wishes of his constituents.
“It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own,” Burke said.
“But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.”
In asking MPs to only say that which their party has sanctioned, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is asking Mark Warawa and every other member of his party to sacrifice their judgment for his.
This is a problem that goes beyond the Conservatives and infects every party.
Each party controls, to a degree, what MPs can say, if they can run for the party and what positions they put forward once they are there.
Canadians elect MPs, not placeholders for each respective party. It’s time our political leaders understood this.
Read the original article here.