Conservative MP who set off backbench revolt finally set to speak about abortion

Conservative MP Mark Warawa. Adrian Wyld/ THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – Mark Warawa wants to speak.

The Conservative MP who set off a backbench rebellion and in doing so re-defined freedom of speech in the modern House of Commons is expected to finally touch on the issue that started it all: abortion.

On Thursday, Warawa intends to stand up in the House to talk about female “gendercide” –  the systematic killing of women, which includes aborting females.

And he will do it without a spot on his party’s speaking list, by catching the eye of Speaker Andrew Scheer, who in a landmark decision ruled late last month that MPs are allowed to make statements and ask questions without their party’s consent.

If Scheer recognizes him on Thursday, Warawa will be able to make his statement weeks after the issue of MP freedom was brought to the forefront of Parliament.

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“My involvement with speaking up against gendercide continues,” Warawa said in an interview.

“Step by step we continue to address the issue and hopefully things will change, that girls will be valued as much as boys.”

It is all set to happen as thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on Parliament Hill for the country’s largest annual anti-abortion march. This year’s theme is ending female gendercide, which includes girls both born and “pre-born.”

If Warawa succeeds, it will be the culmination of a story about the battle for power in Parliament, and the role of MPs in representing their constituents outside of party control.

In March, Warawa was denied his chance to speak in the House by the Tory whip Gordon O’Connor, during the 15-minutes before question period when MPs give statements about their communities known as Standing Order 31 or SO-31s.

Warawa had wanted to speak about his motion, which called on the Commons to condemn the discrimination against females through “sex-selective pregnancy termination.” It was eventually rejected by a Parliamentary committee and Warawa dropped his chance to appeal it, instead replacing it with a private member’s bill to do with house arrest for sex offenders.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will not reopen the abortion debate. It was widely assumed Warawa’s party was attempting to shut down the discussion even though Warawa claimed his motion was not about abortion and had widespread support from 92 per cent of Canadians.

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Warawa complained to the Speaker that his privilege as an MP had been taken away. In the days that followed, about 10 fellow backbenchers stood up in the House to support him, a rare sight and symbol to some that Harper’s control over his caucus was waning.

Late last month, Scheer ruled that Warawa’s privilege had not been breached, but said MPs have the right to stand up and speak in Parliament without their party’s permission.

And on Thursday, it appears Warawa will do just that. But he has waited longer than expected.

The day after the Speaker’s ruling, Warawa deflated expectations when he stood up to give a statement about a talent contest in his Langley, B.C. riding.

The timing wasn’t right, he said Monday.

“Timing is everything, and the time had moved on as far as me speaking on the issue of gendercide,” he said.

“I thought it was more appropriate to deal with something that was important at that day at that time…but I will continue to speak out on the issue of gendercide at appropriate times. “

Warawa will also speak on Parliament Hill Thursday at the pro-life event organized by the nonprofit Campaign Life Coalition.

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He believes his motion has drawn more attention to the issue of sex-selective abortion than ever before.

“It’s a special year for me,” said Warawa.

“I expect we’ll have thousands of people on the lawn saying discriminating against girls through sex-selection is wrong. That’s very encouraging.”

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