Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Trudeau now says all Liberal MPs must vote pro-choice

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leaves a news conference after speaking with the media following caucus on Parliament Hill Wednesday June 18, 2014 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has clarified his party's pro-choice policy after at least one sitting MP felt he was "grand-fathered" and could continue to vote against abortion rights in Canada.

Mr. Trudeau sowed confusion in early May when he laid out a staunchly pro-choice position for all new Liberal candidates in the next election, stating they all had to agree to vote in favour of a "woman's right to choose" to run for the party.

Mr. Trudeau struggled at the time to clearly state what would happen to sitting MPs with an existing track record of voting against abortion.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Trudeau said that "existing MPs … have been grandfathered in to a certain extent," adding that "new MP and new candidates will be pro-choice."

Long-time Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay said in a recent interview with The Guardian in Charlottetown that the party's pro-choice policy did not apply to him.

"I have done and voted the way that I wish to vote and will continue to do so," the PEI MP said.

However, Mr. MacAulay issued a statement on Wednesday morning to state that he would now adhere to the new policy.

"Despite my personal beliefs, I understand that I will have to vote the party position should this issue ever come up in the House of Commons," he said.

Mr. Trudeau laid down the law later in the day for his entire caucus on the issue of abortion, which the Liberals are treating as a Charter right.

"The policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for a woman's right to choose," Mr. Trudeau said.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Trudeau added that last month's comments with respect to "grandfathering" of existing MPs only referred to the nomination process to become a Liberal candidate in the next election, although that was not made clear at the time. He added that his policy was designed to prevent single-interest groups from taking advantage of the Liberal Party's open-nomination process.

The NDP ridiculed the Liberal Party's "two-tier" policy on abortion last month, and many journalists had reported the party had grandfathered MPs existing from voting pro-choice on any motions and bills, without any push back from Mr. Trudeau's office at the time.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.