A flood of postcards supporting MP Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312 to study the definition of life has slowed Parliament's mailroom to a crawl, according to the group responsible for the postcards.
The organization, which calls itself MP Postcards, began selling the messages in June. Tens of thousands of the cards have since been mailed to MPs, the group says.
The torrent of correspondence is causing a backlog in the House of Commons mailroom, according to Woodworth. "I understand the volume of messages received through this postcard campaign has tested the limits of the House of Commons postal service. I’m grateful to the organizers for energizing so many tens of thousands of Canadians to stand up in defence of universal human rights," the MP for Kitchener Centre, Ontario, said in a press release.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW SLIDESHOW
The postcards are being handled in the "usual manner," and while there is a "large volume of mail" it is not causing a backlog, according to Heather Bradley, director of communications for House Speaker Andrew Scheer. " It is being scanned, sorted and then forwarded to the owner of the mail," Bradley said.
Woodworth's motion calls for the formation of a committee to examine when human life begins. The Criminal Code currently states that life starts at the moment of complete birth.
The MP has received widespread media attention for the motion, but has admitted he doesn't expect it to pass. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will not vote for it and has even received praise from the NDP for doing so, according to Canoe.
SLIDESHOW: MINISTERS WHO OPPOSE ABORTION
The group behind the mail claims to have printed 69,000 postcards, most of them paid for through orders.
Miles Driedger, the founder of MP Postcards, said he first realized something was happening at Parliament's mailroom when he asked his own MP Blake Richards if he had received any of the cards. When the MP for Wild Rose, Alberta, told him they had not arrived, Driedger "knew something was wrong."
"The reports we got back were that there were tens of thousands of postcards backlogging the mail room there, and that the staff was working as quickly as possible to get them sorted through,” Driedger said in the press release.
SLIDESHOW: WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON ABORTION
Dreidger is concerned the mail won't reach MPs before they vote on Motion 312 next week. It will be up for final debate this Friday and the vote will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The website for MP Postcards carries a decidedly anti-abortion message. "MP Postcards exists to be the voice of our unborn children to the men and women in our country responsible for their protection, our government officials," the homepage states. "[Motion 312] might even be a step towards ending the legal, tax funded killing of innocent children."
Another page provides a link to the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma where an article on "why biblical Christianity is the only reason we have to do what we do" can apparently be found.
Woodworth has been careful to frame his motion as one calling for further debate on what he sees as an antiquated, 400-year-old definition of life.
But while the word "abortion" does not appear on the postcards, the group's website suggests that changing the legal status of the practice in Canada is the goal of the campaign.
"While we were quite aware that abortion is common in our country through all nine months of pregnancy, what we didn't realize is that our criminal code does not consider unborn children as human beings and therefore does not extend human rights to them in any way, shape or form," the site states. "We believe that this is the greatest opportunity to fight the devaluing of unborn children in our country that we have seen in a long time."
The Campaign Life Coalition provides a listing of MPs who support and oppose abortion rights. The list is based on voting records, previous comments and questionnaire responses. Here is a list of Conservative cabinet ministers who, according to the Coalition, oppose abortion. (CP)
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. (CP)
Minister of Public Safety. (CP)
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. (CP)
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. (CP)
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. (Handout)
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. (CP)
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. (Handout)
Minister of State for Science and Technology and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. (Handout)
Here's a look at the official position of Canada's federal parties, and how the controversial debate has reared its head in recent years. With files from CBC
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said that he has no interest in addressing the issue head-on."As long as I am prime minister we are not opening the abortion debate," Mr. Harper said in April 2011. "The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated as long as I am prime minister." (CP)
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has stated that his caucus is unanimous in its opposition to the private member's motion calling on Parliament to look at whether a fetus is a human being, but he plans to force his MPs to vote along party lines."We're resolutely in favour of women's right to choose," Mulcair declared. (CP)
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has stressed that the abortion issue is matter of individual conscience. Rae expressed his personal opposition to reopening the debate, but said Liberal MPs will be allowed to vote "their conscience" rather than force them to toe the party line."Our position on reproductive choice, my position on reproductive choice is very, very clear. It has been for decades. The position is it's a person's right to choose." (CP)
Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost tells Saskatchewan's ProLife Association in April 2011 that the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters."I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been an absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers' dollars," Trost said.Maurice Vellacott, a Conservative MP from Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, also calls for Planned Parenthood to be defunded.Vellacott says the controversy over the funding "exposed the lies and destructiveness of IPPF's agenda.""It exposes what this abortion giant is surreptitiously trying to achieve worldwide."International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda approves funding. (CP)
Conservative Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge proposes "Roxanne's Law" in 2010, a bill that would penalize anyone who "coerced" a woman into ending her pregnancy against her will."It's not just as simple as feeling pressured to get an abortion; there is a lot of discussion of sex-selection abortion these days, as well," Bruinooge told the Winnipeg Free Press. "It's part of the overall topic of intimidation that goes towards a pregnant woman."Bruinooge insisted the bill wasn't meant to force Parliament to wade into the debate banned by Harper, stating that nothing in his bill made it illegal to abort a fetus.But the Liberals and New Democrats saw it as a backdoor entry into the touchy topic."How is an abortion bill not an abortion bill?" said then-Liberal MP Anita Neville. "This certainly introduces discussion into the House of Commons and it is a rather sneaky way of doing it."Then-NDP leader Jack Layton echoed her concerns. "You have got to wonder what is really going on here."The bill was defeated in December of 2010, with 178 votes for and 97 against it. Harper and many Conservatives voted against it and 10 Liberals supported it. The NDP was unanimously against it. (Handout)
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda discloses for the first time in April 2011 that Canada will not fund abortions in its G8 child and maternal health-care initiative for developing countries.Keith Martin, then-Liberal MP who had defected from the Tories years earlier, expressed outrage. "People here are perplexed and wondering why Canada is rolling back the clock and depriving women in developing countries from having the same rights to basic health care and access to abortion as women in Canada," he said.Then-NDP leader Jack Layton accused the Tories of putting Canada on side with former U.S. president George Bush, who reduced support for abortion-related aid."It's picking up the banner that George Bush used to carry, and I think that that's not something that would be supported by the majority of Canadians, that's for sure," Layton said.On June 25, Canada pledged $1.1 billion to a global initiative on maternal and child health for developing countries - a disproportionately high amount compared to other G8 countries. Canada did not allow for its share to be used in the funding of abortions. (CP)