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How they voted: a breakdown of the Woodworth motion

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, left, and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz vote on Motion 312 in the House of Commons on Wednesday Sept. 26, 2012.


It's rare that a motion from a backbencher gets much attention in Parliament, but Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's motion for Parliament to study when life begins hit a political nerve in the capital.

We've covered how some of the most high-profile Members of Parliament voted, and now we'll take a step back to look at how the House voted as a whole.

This motion, as a vote of conscience, was not whipped, so MPs were allowed to vote in the way they felt appropriate. However, the leadership of each party made it clear how they wanted their members to vote.

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Note: Voting for the motion means they support Mr. Woodworth's idea to study Canada's abortion law. Some supporters say they wanted Parliament to study the idea, but would not necessarily support a ban on abortion.

The total: Of the 294 MPs who voted, the motion failed by a score of 91 yeas to 203 nays.


  • 86 Conservatives supported the motion, 74 voted against. (MP Peter Goldring, who was elected as a Tory and now sits as an “Independent Conservative,” voted for it.)
  • The NDP voted unanimously against it.
  • Four Liberals supported the motion, while 28 voted against it.
  • Three Bloc Québécois MPs voted against it.
  • Green Party Leader Elizabeth May voted against, as did Independent (and former NDP) MP Bruce Hyer.

Regions: Some of this is related to party support (for example, the Conservatives are stronger in Western provinces, while the NDP dominate in Quebec), but worth noting.

  • Nova Scotia MPs, from a mix of parties, voted unanimously against it. Most Newfoundland and Labrador MPs voted against it, with the exception of lone Tory Peter Penashue.
  • New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were evenly split. Manitoba was close, too: 6 yeas and 7 nays.
  • Quebec and the territories voted unanimously against the motion.
  • Ontario and British Columbia were mixed.
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan leaned heavily toward supporting it, with a dozen votes against.

Gender: 11 women (15 per cent) voted for the motion, out of 74 female MPs. Eighty men (36 per cent) also supported the motion out of 220 male MPs.

View the full results on Parliament's website.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More


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