The New Democrats appear to be backing away from MP Niki Ashton's bid to trigger a House vote on abortion rights, at least for now — and at least one opponent of abortion is suggesting the reversal may have been sparked by an outpouring of support from like-minded Canadians eager to reopen the debate.
Earlier this week, WeNeedALaw.ca director Mike Schouten said he was looking forward to a "vigorous debate" on [the motion].
"We anticipate that MPs will have the freedom to vote according to their conscience and take into account the feedback from constituents," he said in a press release.
In response to the party's decision to pull the motion off the table for the moment, Schouten suggested that anti-abortion activists prompted the rethink.
"It looks as though Ms. Ashton and the NDP underestimated the push back from a youthful, energetic pro-life movement," he noted in a release issued on Thursday.
"Over the past 36 hours thousands of people who are plugged into our campaign have answered the call to communicate respectful messages to their members of Parliament."
At least a few of those messages may have resulted from the clarion call put out by faith-based youth anti-abortion group 4MyCanada, which described the motion as "an INCREDIBLE opportunity to share with our leaders how we feel about this important issue," and urged supporters to contact their MPs.
It also sparked a Twitter-based protest campaign launched by Campaign Life Coalition youth under the hashtag #No2Niki.
The abortion-rights motion will remain on the order paper, and could be brought forward on a future New Democrat-designated opposition day.
Ashton will also have the option of putting it before the House when she makes it onto the private members' business priority list, which will likely happen late this year or in early 2015.
Attention shifted to CBC cuts
Meanwhile, back in the Chamber, MPs spent the day debating an NDP motion calling on the government to reverse the latest round of CBC budget cuts, and provide stable, predictable multi-year funding in future.
"Since 2009, $520 million have been cut from our public broadcaster," NDP spokeswoman Greta Levy told CBC News.
"We thought the minister of heritage should appear before committee to explain the current crisis at the CBC — and she said she was open to it. Then the Conservative members of the committee voted against our motion to have her appear. Fear not, minister. We’ve reserved an entire opposition day for you."