Sunday, April 28, 2013

If Motion M-312 survives, does this point to why?

{Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on Sept 22, 2012]

Motion M-312 is doomed. “Done like Dinner” in Dave “Tiger” Williams’ famous phrase.

The effort by pro-life MPs to set up a House of Commons committee to discuss issues on abortion is set to be formally voted on again on Sept. 26th. A CBC live blogger on politics even paraphrases the private motion’s sponsor, Tory MP Stephen Woodworth , as thinking that the motion will fail. This is especially the case given that Stephen Harper plans to vote against the motion, has told his cabinet members to vote that way, and Government Whip Gordon O’Connor tore into the motion during debate on the motion September 21.

But there is a way that M 312 could rise from the dead, if what happened during an alleged giant leak from a usually secret Tory caucus meeting repeats itself.

A reported mass caucus revolt by pro-life MPs—assuming that the speaker at a Saskatchewan church wasn’t blowing what happened out of proportion--could happen again.

Bet the kid’s milk money that Motion M-312 will fail. But if it rises up from life support, something like what is documented below will probably have happened. It may be starting to happen right now.

We will need to remember that back in April 2010, in advance of a G-8 meeting, Tory cabinet minister Bev Oda announced that Canada would be changing its international funding priorities in regards to abortion.

As was reported back then:
The Conservative government will not fund abortion as part of its G8 child- and maternal-health plan for poor countries, setting up a potential conflict with the U.S. and other G8 partners.

The Harper government until today had refused to say whether abortion would be covered under their plan.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda confirmed the move Monday on the eve of a meeting of G8 development ministers in Halifax Tuesday.

She said Canada could include family planning and contraception could be included in the plan, but abortion has been ruled out.

"The details remain to be determined," she told reporters Monday. "However, Canada's contribution will not include funding of abortions."

We’ll come back to that.

Pro-lifers in politics are nothing if not persistent. After the defeat of “Roxanne’s Law” in December 2010, that very afternoon activists were saying that “This is not a defeat as much as is it a step on the road to victory.”

Fast forward to the spring 2011 election. Brad Trost, Saskatchewan Tory MP is at a meeting of the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association. He tells them that the government has decided, after pro-life lobbying, to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

The resulting media attention to Trost’s remarks caused Stephen Harper to adamantly state that despite efferts of MPs such as Trost, voters vcopuld trust that the abortion issue was closed as far as he was concerned. My local tabloid headlined the bstory on the PM’s explanation “No No, Never says Harper.”

After the election, Oda modified her stance, deciding that it would be giving the IPPF $6 million to fund “sex education and contraception” with the explicit caveat that abortion nservices could not be funded.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. The next pro-life idea, which I spotted in a post last November, was that pro-lifers would be forcing a “debate” in a few months on the issue of abortion. BC pro-lifer John Hof was planning for a debate that “can’t be ignored…like Occupy Vancouver”. Brad Trost stepped forward, on an Internet radio program, that such a debate was badly needed.

The pro-life brains trust in Ottawa likely had an idea. How about Parliamentary hearings on abortion? And Motion M 312. which had been slowly moving through the House since the spring, was perhaps a result.

The Criminal Code has a definition, based on old English common law.which stated that murders and homicide can, legally, only involve a baby that if fully born. MP Stephen Woodworth seeks to have this clarified by a parliamentary committee and then brought back to the full house for discussion. {On the other hand, noted pro-choice activist Joyce Arthur argues that legally there is no confusion and that any action based on hearings held after a passed motion would create legal restrictions on abortion.]

The strongly pro-choice bloggers at Dammit Janet have been trying to cover Motion m-312 like a blanket, so that might be a good place to start. I’ve only been following it casually.

But, I have found something of perhaps historical interest, a past strategy that could be used again even as I am typing this sentence.

It relates to a past caucus meeting of Tory MPs that leaked like a sieve onto the laps of an unsuspecting church audience.

I thought that Parliamentary practice meant that caucus meetings were secret. Well, the speaker here relates so much that she was told that the Conservative whips might want to have a word with some pro-life Tory MPs.

Our indirect source? Evangelist Faytene Grasseschi. the former Faytene Kryskow. Well known to us at BDBO.

I recently came across a sermon of hers from when she was speaking at Harvest City Church in Regina Saskatchewan. You may download or listen to it here: “The Power Of Your Voice” from the evening of Nov 20, 2011. They appear to have come online only recently.

Faytene refers to a meeting that she had with Stephen Harper and then, a couple months later, a rebellious caucus meeting. I had thought that she had referred to both those events occurring earlier in 2011, but the way she describes the events in makes more sense that she was referring to the caucus revolts that caused Bev Oda to make the temporary funding changes in 2010 as reported above. I apologize for being imprecise, but I think I can make my point if the events happened in either year. I’d say she’s referring to 2010, though.

About 37 minutes into her message, Faytene starts to talk about how she was given an award to pass onto Stephen Harper by some friends of hers in Israel. Get this to the PM for us. Thank him for being pro-Israel.

Through some providential circumstances, Faytene gets a ten minute meeting with Stephen Harper. After praying about she should say to him, she is ushered into the PM’s office.

At 39:30, Faytene told her audience that she said this to Stephen Harper.

“’One of the reasons that Canadians love your leadership is that you always allow a free vote on issues of moral conscience. Please would you continue to allow a free vote on issues of moral conscience.’”

“What I am about to share with you is nothing short of a national sign and wonder. He [Stephen Harper] looked back at me—I mean the rest of this story-and said ‘Well, haven’t I always done that? And I said back “Well, we were a little confused when you said you were going to whip the cabinet on that unborn victims of violence bill [Roxanne’s Law?] right before the election and so we wert a little bit, you know, wondering if you were moving off on that a little bit’, and [I] kept honour and kept gentleness and he kinda crinkled his forehead a little bit, and you could tell that he was thinking.”

I’m just going to let Faytene speak for herself at length. At $0:17 she says this;

“I had no idea that when God asked me to use that little voice [of mine] that two days later we would be facing what arguably was one of, I believe, was one of the most watershed moments for our nation for at least that year, if not in the last couple of years. On March 18th, March 19th, excuse me, a national newspaper reported that a motion was going to be tabled in the House of Commons that, if it was passed, would armtwist the Parliament of Canada into platforming the funding of abortion internationally at the G-* summit….You know one of the destiny points of our nation, Canada-the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations…”

Being pro-life, Faytene was naturally interested in seeing what she could do to fight this.At 45:03 of her sermon, she relates that pro-life MPs started leaking like a styrofoam umbrella about internal Tory doings.

“We began to get e-mails from MPS that the Prime Minister’s Office had actually done the math and they understood was most likely going to pass in the House of Commons because Canada—the Conservative Party of Canada was still a minority government, and within the Conservative Party itself, there was mixture in the topic. And so the Prime Minister’s Office had done the math and he [Stehen Harper?] had done the math and he had said basically, I’m not going to put my neck out on this, and so, we are going to go the Parliament of Canada, we’re going to go into the House of Commons and vote with this motion. We’re going to agree with this motion, and we are going to agree with the G-8, and we are going to platform this initiative and be a part of promoting this thing on the international stage because it’s not worth taking a political hit on it.”

What happened then? Faytene at 45:51 continues:

So, Faytene came to the podium to address a recurring theme of hers, that Christians have the authority to “conquer something in the Spirit”. A we-are-mighty and you-in-particular-sitting-right-there-are mighty sort of message of the kind she often delivers.

I don’t want to delve into the theology of that, but we do need to keep in mind her purpose in leaking. That said, I don’t think she is brazen enough to create something from nothing. So, if this winds up giving us some insights into Ottawa pro-life politics, so much the better.

“Different members of Parliament, probably like your very own [MP] began to give a little bit of pushback and they said ‘Prime minister, with all due respect, I’ll think about it’, you know. The Prime Minister’s Office was saying ‘If you can’t vote for the motion, then we’re asking that you actually be absent from the House of Commons that say’ and they [the pro-life MPs] said ‘okay, we’ll think about it, we’ll pray about it.’”

At 46:13, Faytene continues: ”The Prime Minister’s Office began to get a little shaken up and so they called an emergency caucus meeting. We had a Member of Parliament contact us and say ‘Faytene, will you get your guy’s network praying, will you get them lifting their voices in the Spirit in prayer top create life.’ I don’t know about you guys, but I actually believe this is revival. I believe loosing the light of God….You know this is a revival issue, all of this stuff is so synch’ed.”

Came the emergency caucus meeting. Faytene at 46:55:

“And go I was you to picture this—9 AM that morning, a church, raising its voice….”

Deep Throat, er, Faytene ;), at 48:08: “The Prime Minister went into that meeting and for the first ten minutes he explained all the reasons why the needed to support this motion and be part of promoting a death decree on the international stage, funded by our taxpayer money and he said, you know, listen, it’s not the right time, blah blah blah, blah” and I’m sure he had lots of great intelligent –he’s a really brilliant brilliant man—I’m sure he had lots of really great intelligent things that he said, that made a lot of sense, but then he looked at his caucus and said this, ‘But since I am committed to a free vote on issues of moral conscience…I want to hear what you guys have to say.’”

Let us pause for a second. This is assuming that Faytene’s leak from an MP or staffer was accurate and she is passing that on accurately. At the time of this meeting, Mr. Harper, saying “It’s not the right time” would mean that he was a pro-lifer depending on the chance to act prudently. Post election, if he is now a “the subject of abortion is now closed” type of guy, that would be quite a shift.” One that Faytene has kindly let Canadian voters know about, if she got it right and is not indulging in wishful thinking.”

Faytene, I should note, does try to be modest and say that Harper didn’t do thing because of what she said alone, but “when God gives you a microphone, use it.”

Faytene continues, at 49:22, with her secondhand account of the secret Tory caucus meeting. Microphones were brought out and MPs lined up to speak.

“The very first Member of Parliament stepped up to the plate and said this ‘With all due respect Prime Minister, I can appreciate what you’re saying,’ he said, ‘But for the sake of my own conscience, and for the sake of representing my constituents in Saskatchewan I am going to show up in the House of Commons and I am going to show up in the House of Commons and I am going to vote against the motion’ using the microphone God had given him. The next member of Parliament stood up, the next Member of Parliament stood up…”

“Several [MPs] stood up, they told me afterwards…The Members of Parliament told us afterwards. ‘Faytene, we don’t know what came over us!’ and I said ‘I know what came over you—Holy Ghost!’”

She quotes the leaking MPs as allegedly saying this” ‘” We don’t even know what came over us, it was like a spirit of courage that we’ve never had!’—come on, let the strong be strong—‘We’ve never stood up to the Prime Minister ever* as a caucus.’”

At 50:24, Faytene relates, according to what she says she was told by her sources, Stephen Harper started to fold faster than Superman on laundry day.

“After about ten minutes the Prime Minister shut it down, no one knew what he was going to do, nobody knew, if he was just going to say, you know you guys, that’s great, but we’re going this way—he’s a strong leader, right?...He [Harper] shut down the microphone, pushed back his seat and said something like this; ‘Okay, we have heard from caucus today. With one voice and one heart, we are going to go to the Parliament this afternoon and we are going to unanimously vote against this motion, and if anyone has any issue with that, come talk to me.’”

So, the Tory MPs proceeded to do just that. The pro-life side, Faytene added to her audience, was helped by various pro-choice MPs arriving late. “[T]he one person who adamantly opposed the [Tory position] walked out of the debate and her retina mysteriously detached, so she was rushed to emergency,” she added.

And so the pro-life side carried the day that time.

I know that Faytene has her own point of view on all this, every reason to create or exaggerate. But, if this is anywhere close to being true, it’s, perhaps, a precedent.

Some observations.

The traditional practice in Westminster systems is that caucus meetings deliberate secretly, so there can be honesty and secrecy. If, and I emphasize if, Faytene’s account i

s right, she’d just told a church audience the equivalent of whether Harper preferred boxers or briefs in this instance. The pro-life MP’s, I am guessing, appeared to have leaked this to a friend, perhaps knowing that she’d blab and they would look good. Unfortunately, tape was rolling and unfortunately again, a blogger noticed it

. So, if a pro-choice MP walks up to a leaker and is indignant with them,we’ll know why.

Where does M-312 come into all this? Well this, assuming this is correct, is a direct example of pro-lifers seemingly being able to pull off a miracle comeback. They were told they couldn’t win, but were able to point to Harper’s stance allowing free votes on conscience and get him to be persuaded to let it happen.

And remember the ostensible two-part status of Motion M-312. “All it does, Stephen,” a pro-life MP could say,” Is allow us to talk about the issue. All we want is an opportunity to make our case to the Canadian people. Politicians talk and debate all the time. And if you don’t like what the commission says, you can put their report away where it will never be seen again. You are not obliged to act” Harper may think “I can stack the members of the committee so it will be dependably pro-choice.”

If you are pro-choice, there is a chance of mischief. And recalling what is alleged to have happened here, could it not happen again? Surely the pro-life side is trying to reuse this strategy now as I speak, or gave it a try already.

If nothing else, it’s perhaps useful to have this out there.

Bet your rent money, bet my rent money that Motion M-312 will be defeated. I see a strong attitude by Harper that he is quite done with abortion, thank you.

But if by some weird happenstance, Motion M-312 makes a 1 chance in 100 move through to a third reading, it would be good to be able to have material that will allow us to guess “How did this happen?” Look, then, for something like what happened then to have shepherded M-312 through.