A Bloc Québécois MP’s motion on reproductive rights sparked raucous applause in the House of Commons Wednesday, but not from the Conservative benches.
Monique Pauzé rose after question period seeking unanimous consent for a motion stating the House reiterates “that a woman’s body belongs to her and her alone” and recognizes the right to an abortion.
With such gambits, a single dissenting voice from an MP in the chamber is enough to ensure the motion is not accepted by the House.
And though Pauzé did not score unanimity, many Liberals, New Democrats, Greens, as well as Bloc and Independent MPs stood up from their seats to applaud for more than a minute. Tory MPs remain seated.
However, according to journalist Dale Smith watching from the gallery above, Quebec Conservative MP Sylvie Boucher applauded.
“Virtue signalling,” Tory MP Erin O’Toole could be heard telling the Liberal benches after things quieted down. “Bring it up tomorrow.”
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, who is vehemently anti-abortion, is scheduled to visit Ottawa Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on the ratification of the new NAFTA.
Speaking to reporters before question period, Trudeau was asked if he will broach the topic of abortion rights with Pence. Several U.S. states have moved in recent weeks to restrict or ban abortion access.
“Obviously I’m very concerned with the situation around the backsliding of women’s rights that we’re seeing from conservative movements here in Canada, in the United States and around the world,” Trudeau said.
“I will have a broad conversation with the vice-president in which, of course, that will come up, but we’re going to mostly focus on the ratification process of NAFTA and making sure we get good jobs for Canadians.”
Liberals have called out 12 Tory MPs for attending an anti-abortion rally on Parliament Hill earlier this month. Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef has also demanded Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer publicly “reaffirm women’s reproductive rights.”
Scheer has shot back by accusing Liberals of “trying to import a divisive issue from the United States” to distract from the government’s record. He has repeatedly said that a Tory government will not reopen the abortion debate.
Conservative MP Phil McColeman also sought unanimous support in the House Wednesday for a motion calling on Trudeau to apologize to military families who were “excluded from participating in the secret dedication ceremony for the Afghanistan memorial” unveiled in Ottawa earlier this month.
Though McColeman’s motion spurred ovations from Tory benches, House Speaker Geoff Regan ruled there was no unanimous consent on that issue, either.
With files from The Canadian Press