A rookie Liberal MP is receiving kudos from members across the floor after he voted against shutting down debate on his own government's physician-assisted dying legislation.
Manitoba MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette broke ranks with Liberals on a time allocation motion on Bill C-14 Wednesday. Time allocation allows a government to limit the length of debate on a bill so that it can move through the legislative process at a quicker pace.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette. (Photo: Facebook)
The Huffington Post Canada has reached out to Oullette on his decision and will update this story if he responds. The indigenous MP has already announced that he will not vote for C-14, citing his spiritual beliefs and the ongoing suicide crisis in Attawapiskat as reasons behind that decision.
Some critics deride time allocation motions as anti-democratic but the use of the tactic on the sensitive and emotionally-charged topic of physician-assisted death seemed to particularly irk Conservatives and New Democrats.
Before the vote, NDP House Leader Peter Julian said it was "shameful" to call for closure on what should be a non-partisan issue after only about two-and-a-half days of debate. Tory MP Peter Kent accused Liberals of behaving "like pranksters in a model Parliament."
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould responded in the House of Commons that the government is moving to have a law in place by the Supreme Court's deadline of June 6. She also noted how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on the last Tory government to immediately launch debates after the top court's decision last February.
There will still be opportunities to discuss the legislation at later stages and in committee.
Raitt says minister 'spewing lies'
In a particularly heated moment, Tory MP Lisa Raitt accused Wilson-Raybould of "spewing lies" in the House by suggesting those who wanted to speak on C-14 have been given the chance.
Veteran Tory Jason Kenney said the use of time allocation on the topic of "euthanasia" was unlike anything he had seen in his nearly 20 years in Parliament. While the previous Tory government used time allocation at least 100 times in the last Parliament, Kenney said MPs must have the chance to speak on "life and death issues."
I cannot recall a govt shutting down Parliamentary debate on a grave matter of moral conscience, as the Liberals are now doing on euthanasia— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 4, 2016
1/ I understand govts in our system must sometimes limit debate time, eg back to work legislation, or in response to opposition filibusters.— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 4, 2016
2/ But the ancient convention on matters of grave moral conscience, eg life and death issues, is to allow all MPs to speak. Until now.— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 4, 2016
Tory MP Scott Reid took to Twitter to say he planned to vote for the legislation but has now changed his mind.
I planned to vote in favour of C-14 at 2nd reading. But I'm so disgusted by the Liberals shutting down debate that tonight I'll vote No.— Scott Reid (@ScottReidCPC) May 4, 2016
NDP MP Alistair MacGregor blasted the Liberals for thwarting discussion on arguably the "most important legislation before Parliament in a decade."
After the vote, many MPs took to Twitter to laud Ouellette, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who called him "one brave MP."
Major respect to @DrRobbieO for voting against his party on the motion to end debate on Physician Assisted Dying. Huge respect.— Michelle Rempel, MP (@MichelleRempel) May 4, 2016
Just applauded Lib MP @DrrobbieO Robert Falcon Oullette for standing in opposition to closure of debate on C-14. Courageous.— Bob Zimmer MP (@bobzimmermp) May 4, 2016
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