03/26/2013 06:18 EDT | Updated 05/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Tory MP Says Party Shut Down Speaking Slot


A Conservative MP wants the Speaker to rule on who controls the precious few minutes MPs have to make members' statements after he says he was denied the chance last week to talk about his motion against sex-selective abortion.

Mark Warawa, who is trying to bring a motion before the House condemning abortion based on sex, says he wanted to make a statement before question period, but his own party interfered.

The motion, M-408, was ruled non-voteable by a small committee of MPs last Thursday, despite a non-partisan analyst from the Library of Parliament telling them it qualified to go to the House for debate.

MPs get 15 minutes every day before question period to make one-minute statements in the House of Commons, known as SO-31s. The parties help organize the list of names provided, Warawa says, but it's up to the Speaker to determine who doesn't get to make one of those 60-second statements.

Warawa says he wanted to make a member's statement about his motion and recent speeches he made about it at universities in British Columbia and Ontario.

Warawa said he "was going to report the incredible support for M-408. I was going to report that and of course that SO-31 was removed [from the list]."

Rules 'have to be honoured'

Warawa tabled his motion on Sept. 26, the same day 86 Conservative MPs voted in favour of a motion to study when life begins. Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's motion was defeated 203-91.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has insisted the government will not reopen the abortion debate, raising questions over whether the decision to make Warawa's motion non-voteable was influenced by the Prime Minister's Office.

Warawa still managed to make the statement as he introduced a petition on the issue after question period, but he now wants the rules explained. On Tuesday, he's going to ask Speaker Andrew Scheer for "a clarification" about whether MPs have the right to make member's statements.

"It's clearly laid out in the standing orders, and the rules of Parliament have to be honoured, respected," Warawa said in an interview with CBC News.

"If there is a misinterpretation of those standing orders, which can happen, then the Speaker clarifies that and that's what I'm going to be asking for. … My understanding is yes, they can, that's standing orders, that's one of their privileges."

The only person who can tell MPs they can't make statements, Warawa says, is the Speaker.

"We have a great responsibility in coming to Ottawa. We're sent here from our communities. That's who our boss is, that's who we report to, is our community," he said.

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