"This is intolerance at its finest and the actions of the PM behind the scenes are dictatorial in nature." Andrew Scheer
Typical Liberal sentiment. If you do not have a view that follows the globalist communist agenda you are not allowed to have a voice. "The opposition leader chose someone who is not pro-choice, who has voted against rights for trans people in our country, and those are not views that the Liberal members of this committee can support as chair," said Liberal MP Pam Damoff." READ MORE:
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is accusing Liberals of a “lack of respect” for parliament after a kerfuffle in the status of women committee Tuesday morning.
Liberals and New Democrats oppose the Tories’ nomination of an apparently pro-life MP for committee chair, a role traditionally held by a member of the official opposition. After Rachael Harder was put forward for the role, Liberals vacated their seats in protest and forced the committee meeting to adjourn.
How to handle the issue is a test for Scheer, who is trying to keep the big blue tent a safe space for social conservatives and pro-choice Conservatives alike. Unlike the Liberals, who mandate pro-choice votes, the Tories allow MPs to vote however they like on issues of conscience, including abortion-related issues.
“It’s certainly unprecedented that the prime minister would interfere and block the nomination of a democratically elected member of parliament to serve as chair of a committee,” Scheer said outside the Commons Tuesday afternoon. “I think it shows a lack of respect for the parliamentary process. It’s very unfortunate.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference that the committee is independent and Liberal MPs made their own decision, but he supports them. “Quite frankly, one would hope that the Committee for the Status of Women would have a spokesperson who would be able to stand up and unequivocally defend women’s rights. That’s sort of the point of the Status of Women’s Committee.”
“What they’re protesting, which I wholeheartedly support, is the choice to appoint someone to chair that committee that is so far away from the values that the rest of the committee members hold,” status of women minister Maryam Monsef said outside the chamber.
“Andrew Scheer would like us to believe that his style of leadership is an inclusive one, a positive one where gender equality matters, and yet he continues to send signals like this that go against the face of what the women’s movement has been saying for decades.”
The Liberal protest came after New Democrat critic Sheila Malcolmson raised concerns over Harder’s nomination Monday.
Malcolmson said Tuesday that Liberals had originally been telling her “there’s nothing we can do,” but after their surprise move she was “very glad to see that they felt the pressure from women’s organizations across the country.”
Malcolmson said she doesn’t think having pro-life views is “problematic” for Harder as a parliamentarian, but a committee focused on women’s issues should ensure its chair and spokesperson is someone who supports reproductive rights.
“We wouldn’t accept a chair of an Indigenous affairs committee that opposes the Indigenous right to self-determine. We wouldn’t accept a chair of the languages committee that opposes French language rights,” Malcolmson said.
Harder’s voting record is deemed impeccable by pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition. A representative from the coalition spoke to the Post in August and endorsed Harder’s appointment as status of women critic, saying there is a “bias for abortion” in Canadian politics that “is not representative of all women’s views in Canada.”
Harder had replied “yes,” in 2014, to the group’s questions about whether she believed life begins at conception and about introducing laws to protect fetuses. She told the Post in a statement last month, though, “it is the official policy of the Conservative party that a future Conservative government will not reopen the abortion debate.”
Lisa Raitt, the Conservatives’ deputy leader, said outside the House she’d hoped a discussion could have gone ahead in the meeting room Tuesday morning so the committee could begin its work.
Raitt added she believes Harder’s personal beliefs wouldn’t pre-empt her from being able to act as an impartial chair. “When the government says Rachael Harder can’t be the chair of this committee, what they’re saying is they don’t trust her to put her personal beliefs aside. They don’t give her the benefit of the doubt.”
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel accused Liberals of hypocrisy with a series of tweets. “Presupposing the thoughts and ability of a democratically elected MP to be impartial simply based on political dogma, and then seeking to suppress her, is hilarious coming from supposed ‘free thinking’ ‘feminists,’ ” she wrote.
Advocacy groups on both sides of the issue were weighing in to either condemn or applaud the Liberals’ move, with pro-life group “We need a law” saying dissenting voices are “feared and silenced,” and pro-choice group Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada calling for pressure on Liberal MPs and saying being “anti-choice” should be an automatic disqualifier.
Neither side appears ready to back down. Committee members face each other again Thursday morning.
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