Motion 312: Stephen Woodworth's Controversial Motion On Life Defeated

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DEFINITION OF LIFE
Several members of cabinet rose to vote in favour of Stephen Woodworth's private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code, against the wishes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (CP files). | CP

OTTAWA - The prime minister was among the majority of MPs that helped defeat a Conservative MP's pro-life motion Wednesday, but ten of Stephen Harper's ministers voted to keep the debate alive.

Public Works and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose was among the members of cabinet who rose to vote in favour of Stephen Woodworth's private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code.

TALLY: How Your MP Voted

The motion was defeated by a vote of 203-91.

Harper had called Woodworth's motion "unfortunate," and in the spring said he would vote against it because of his party's electoral commitment to not re-open the debate on abortion.

But more than 80 Conservative MPs did not appear to view their vote as a contradiction to the election promise.

"It's unacceptable. Stephen Harper told us his government wasn't willing to reopen the debate and you have the minister in charge of the status of women voting (in favour)," said NDP MP Niki Ashton.

"At what point do the Conservatives consider women's equality a priority?"

This being a private member's motion, and an issue of conscience, MPs were allowed to make a personal decision on the vote. Four Liberal MPs also voted in favour of the motion that would have taken a look at when a child is declared a human being in the Criminal Code section on homicide.

Woodworth told reporters that he hoped his supporters would keep up the pressure on MPs.

"I hope that people all across Canada will really take to heart, will be moved to advocate that we enshrine in Canadian law the inherent worth and dignity of every human being," Woodworth said.

Currently, the Criminal Code defines a child as a human only after it emerges alive from the mother's body at birth.

Woodworth and his supporters point out that the landmark 1988 ruling confirming abortion rights in Canada also noted the potential need to protect unborn babies at some point during a pregnancy.

Woodworth's motion was used as a sort of political football, and not only in Ottawa.

Agnes Maltais, Quebec's status of women minister, sent a letter to all MPs from the province earlier Wednesday, reminding them that the national assembly as recently as April voted to protect abortion rights.

"You are representatives of Quebec elected to the House of Commons," she wrote. "I ask you to respect the will of the people of Quebec as expressed by the national assembly and therefore to vote against this motion."

The NDP has accused Harper of essentially putting abortion back on the table for debate through Woodworth's motion.

"Mr. Harper can't have it both ways,"said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. "He can't claim that he's against reopening the abortion debate and having a sitting minister vote in favour of reopening the abortion debate.

"The two just can't be squared."

Still, Liberal Leader Bob Rae said allowing free votes on such matters is a venerable Commons tradition that must be respected.

"What we have achieved in Canada ... is, I think, a very powerful national consensus, and that is not unanimity but a consensus, and that is, that this is a matter that's better decided on an individual basis by a woman in consultation with whomever she chooses to consult," said Rae.

"I don't think that's going to change, I don't think tonight's vote is going to change that, I think it will be more of reflection of that consensus."

Rod Bruinooge, a Manitoba MP who once put forward his own pro-life motion, said Woodworth has already achieved part of his goal.

"It's caused a good discussion as to when life begins," said Bruinooge.

"I don't expect that it's going to pass, that's my honest viewpoint, but I think it's been a good discussion and I think that's really the net result that the member wanted to achieve."

How Canadian MPs voted on a private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code

Yea/NayMP's Last Name
yea Ablonczy
nay Adams
nayAdler
nayAglukkaq
nay Albas
yea Albrecht
nay Alexander
yeaAllen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
nayAllen (Welland)
yeaAllison
yea Ambler
yeaAmbrose
yeaAnders
yeaAnderson
nayAndrews
nayAngus
nayArmstrong
nayAshfield
nayAshton
nayAspin
nayAtamanenko
nayAubin
nayAyala
nayBaird
nayBateman
nayBélanger
nayBellavance
nayBennett
yeaBenoit
nayBenskin
yeaBergen
nayBernier
nayBevington
yeaBezan
nayBlanchette
nayBlanchette-Lamothe
nayBlaney
yeaBlock
nayBoivin
nayBorg
yeaBoughen
nayBoulerice
nayBoutin-Sweet
nayBrahmi
nayBraid
yeaBreitkreuz
nayBrison
nayBrosseau
yeaBrown (Barrie)
yeaBrown (Leeds—Grenville)
yeaBrown (Newmarket—Aurora)
yeaBruinooge
nayButt
nayByrne
nayCalandra
yeaCalkins
yeaCannan
nayCarmichael
nayCaron
yeaCarrie
nayCasey
nayCash
nayCharlton
nayChicoine
nayChisholm
nayChisu
yeaChong
nayChoquette
nayChow
nayChristopherson
yeaClarke
nayCleary
nayClement
nayComartin
nayCôté
nayCrowder
nayCullen
nayCuzner
nayDaniel
yeaDavidson
nayDavies (Vancouver East)
nayDavies (Vancouver Kingsway)
nayDay
nayDechert
yeaDel Mastro
yeaDevolin
nayDewar
nayDionne Labelle
nayDoré Lefebvre
yeaDreeshen
nayDubé
nayDuncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
nayDuncan (Etobicoke North)
nayDuncan (Vancouver Island North)
nayDusseault
nayDykstra
nayEaster
nayEyking
yeaFantino
yeaFast
nayFindlay (Delta—Richmond East)
nayFinley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
nayFlaherty
nayFletcher
nayFoote
nayFreeman
nayFry
yeaGalipeau
yeaGallant
nayGarneau
nayGarrison
nayGenest
nayGenest-Jourdain
nayGiguère
nayGill
nayGlover
nayGodin
nayGoguen
yeaGoldring
nayGoodale
nay Goodyear
nayGosal
nayGourde
nayGravelle
yeaGrewal
nayGroguhé
nayHarper
yeaHarris (Cariboo—Prince George)
nayHarris (Scarborough Southwest)
nayHarris (St. John's East)
nayHassainia
yeaHawn
yeaHayes
yeaHiebert
yeaHillyer
nayHoback
nayHolder
nayHsu
nayHughes
nayHyer
nayJacob
yeaJames
yeaJean
yeaKamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
yeaKarygiannis
nayKeddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
nayKellway
yeaKenney (Calgary Southeast)
nayKent
nayKerr
yeaKomarnicki
nayKramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
yeaLake
yeaLamoureux
nayLapointe
nayLarose
nayLatendresse
yeaLauzon
nayLaverdière
nayLebel
nayLeBlanc (Beauséjour)
nayLeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
nayLeef
nayLeitch
yeaLemieux
nayLeslie
nayLeung
nayLiu
yeaLizon
yeaLobb
yeaLukiwski
yeaLunney
yeaMacAulay
nayMacKay (Central Nova)
nayMacKenzie
nayMai
nayMarston
nayMartin
nayMasse
nayMathyssen
nayMay
yeaMayes
nayMcCallum
yeaMcColeman
nayMcGuinty
yeaMcKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
nayMcLeod
nayMenegakis
nayMenzies
yeaMerrifield
nayMichaud
yeaMiller
nayMoore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
yeaMoore (Fundy Royal)
nayMoore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
nayMorin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
nayMorin (Laurentides—Labelle)
nayMorin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
nayMorin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
nayMourani
nayMulcair
nayMurray
nayNantel
nayNash
nayNicholls
nayNicholson
yeaNorlock
nayNunez-Melo
nayObhrai
nayO'Connor
yeaO'Neill Gordon
yeaOpitz
nayPacetti
nayPapillon
nayParadis
nayPatry
yeaPayne
nayPéclet
yeaPenashue
nayPerreault
nayPilon
nayPlamondon
yeaPoilievre
nayPreston
nayQuach
nayRae
nayRaitt
yeaRajotte
yeaRathgeber
nayRavignat
nayRaynault
nayRegan
nayReid
nayRempel
nayRichards
nayRickford
yeaRitz
nayRousseau
naySandhu
naySaxton
nayScarpaleggia
naySchellenberger
nayScott
yeaSeeback
naySellah
naySgro
yeaShea
yeaShipley
nayShory
naySimms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
naySims (Newton—North Delta)
naySitsabaiesan
naySmith
naySopuck
yeaSorenson
nayStanton
naySt-Denis
nayStewart
nayStoffer
yeaStorseth
yeaStrahl
naySullivan
yeaSweet
nayThibeault
nayTilson
yeaToet
nayToone
nayTremblay
yeaTrost
nayTrottier
nayTrudeau
nayTruppe
nayTurmel
yeaTweed
nayUppal
nayValcourt
nayValeriote
yeaVan Kesteren
yeaVan Loan
yeaVellacott
nayWallace
yeaWarawa
yeaWarkentin
yeaWatson
yeaWeston (Saint John)
yeaWeston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
nayWilks
yeaWilliamson
yeaWong
yeaWoodworth
nayYelich
yeaYoung (Oakville)
nayYoung (Vancouver South)
yeaZimmer

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