Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trudeau motion backs unhappy backbenchers

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OTTAWA -- Justin Trudeau is riding to the rescue of Conservative backbenchers who feel they're being muzzled by stifling party discipline imposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The newly minted Liberal leader intends to introduce a motion that would strip party whips of their power to decide which MPs are allowed to make member's statements in the House of Commons.

The motion was to have been debated and put to a vote on Monday, a Liberal opposition day. But an hour after Trudeau gave notice Friday of his motion, Government House leader Peter Van Loan announced a sudden change in next week's Commons agenda, bumping the Liberal day to Wednesday.

The revolt was triggered last month when British Columbia MP Mark Warawa was removed from the Tory roster because he intended to talk about abortion.

Trudeau, who made democratic reform the centrepiece of his successful leadership bid, intends to remedy that with his motion.

Instead of the current practice of having party whips supply the Speaker with a list of MPs approved to make statements on any given day, the motion would require the Speaker to recognize MPs in alphabetical order, by party. MPs would be able to trade their speaking orders, providing some flexibility for those who might be out of town when their turn comes up or who want to urgently address an issue in their ridings. Independent MPs would be considered as a group, in alphabetical order.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 20, 2013 A29

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