Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clarity part II

Update (10:30 p.m.) below. And 11:45 p.m, 12:30 a.m.

So that earlier post needs a bit of an updating, I'd say. Pressed for time here so this may not be the most complete item...

The vote on the maternal health motion failed by a margin of 144-138. The main point of the earlier post is still true, the Conservatives are now on record against that motion, one upside of having brought it. If this issue is of concern to Canadian women, they can judge how all the parties voted, in their entirety and take that into account next time at the ballot box. There is one party that voted entirely against the motion.

As for the Liberals, I'm not clear on whether this was a whipped vote or not. This CP report from earlier this afternoon noted that the vote was a conscience vote, not whipped. CBC says it was whipped. If this was a conscience vote, that should have been made clearer from the get go with this one. With a few successful opposition votes having been taken in the past week with clear positions resulting, e.g., the prorogation and ten percenter votes, which we should not lose sight of, expectations may have been created that a similar result would occur on this vote. Given the number of MPs who were absent, the 3 Liberals who did vote against the motion and the 2 who abstained, it appears there was no way to have won this motion. So whether or not it should have been brought is a debatable question. I'm inclined to say the outcome is still worthwhile to see, based on the Conservative position having been established.

As that CP report notes as well, it's still unclear what exactly the government's position on funding family planning initiatives is. Funding is still being held up for the Canadian wing of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. It's limbo time, still, from this government. That's worth smoking out.

So yes, disappointing, but with so many of these issues, if you want a government that doesn't play politics with such issues and that will unabashedly say yes to family planning support, we all know what we need to do.

Update (10:30 p.m.): Dimitri Soudas playing games tonight:
"...we thank those Liberal MPs for their support of our Conservative government on an important confidence motion tonight."
I wasn't around much today but if this was declared a "confidence vote" in advance of the vote by the government then I'm a monkey's uncle. Soudas' comment tonight is irresponsibly labelling the vote as such when it wasn't. Not the things a PMO should be playing around with.

Also, clarification on the status of the vote:
Earlier Tuesday, Ignatieff's office had told The Canadian Press it was a free vote of "conscience" for Liberal MPs, but the vote was subsequently whipped — with little effect.
Update II (11:45 p.m.): OK, apparently Soudas' "confidence motion" comment was directed toward momentarily incorrect Liberal votes made in favour of the budget estimates, which would be a confidence matter. Sorry about that. Those votes were corrected with the permission of the Speaker. But the initial CBC report I took Soudas' comment from was all about the maternal health initiative with no indication that Soudas' remark pertained to a separate vote. You can find that in this separate story. My apologies and my comments on Soudas in the previous update are now, what is it they say, inoperative. Except he was still being a weasel, really.

Update III (12:30 a.m.): Oh please. See NDP votes on gun registry. Principle has its moments I guess.

Is there any doubt on what a Liberal government's position would be? No. A handful of members might differ from the government's position, but it would be clearly in support of family planning support in conjunction with such a maternal health initiative.