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The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has sent a terrible message by blocking the election of a Conservative MP to the position of chair of the House of Commons committee on the status of women solely because of her opposition to abortion.

Think of it this way: Were Rachael Harder, the Alberta MP in question, fired from a job in a private company, or from the public service, for the same reason, she would be the victim of a violation of her Charter rights.

Read also: Tory MP Rachael Harder loses bid for status of women chair

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And yet in a committee vote on Tuesday, the Liberals denied Ms. Harder a position she is fully qualified to hold simply because she refuses to conform to their view of the world.

Is this something the same Liberals would tolerate outside the confines of Parliament? Are they telling Canadian women who don't believe in abortion that their opinion can be used against them by the government?

The only way the Liberals' ouster of Ms. Harder would be justified would be if there were a clear requirement, either legal or practical, that the committee chair overtly favour the status quo when it comes to abortion in Canada. But there is no such requirement.

The job of the chair is to run the committee's meetings, and the job of the committee is to examine legislation and issues relating to equality of the sexes and violence against women and girls.

There is not, as Mr. Trudeau has wrongly contended, a requirement that the chair be "able to stand up and unequivocally defend women's rights" as they are defined by him and his party.

The committee is there to hear the views of all Canadians, on all issues, regardless of whether or not their positions align with those of the Prime Minister or make some people uncomfortable.

One can now only imagine the rude welcome this stacked committee will give to any witness who dares express a view that is not in line with the government's. Why would such a person even bother testifying to the committee? (Maybe that's the point.)

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The right to abortion is one we support, but there is a higher principle at play here – the right to hold beliefs, and to act on them legally, without interference from the government, and without being discriminated against by society.

The Liberal government's shameful actions this week send a contrary message – that it is perfectly acceptable in Canada to discriminate against people who oppose abortion.

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