Minister for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose continues to be widely criticized for voting for abortion motion

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Rona Ambrose's decision to vote in favour of Bill M-312 continues to draw strong reaction from both the public and opposition MPs.

The private members bill put forward by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, which would have required a Parliamentary committee to study the point at which a baby becomes a human being, was defeated handily by a vote of 203 to 91 on Wednesday evening.

Ambrose wasn't the only Tory MP to vote for the Bill but she is the Minister for Status of Women and that, according to some, comes with an implied responsibility to stand-up for all women's rights including the right to choose.

NDP MP Niki Ashton took to Twitter telling her followers that she was shocked by Ambrose's vote:

NDP MP Linda Duncan told iNews880 that she was also surprised.

"The position was created specifically to watchdog and uphold women's rights," she said.

"So, one would think, while a private member can vote the way they want, the minister holding that [status of women] portfolio would be putting women's rights first."

[ Related: Are the Harper Conservatives becoming gay-friendly? ]

Meanwhile, according to the Globe and Mail, Bloc MP Maria Mourani joined the pile-on.

"She has to think about [stepping down]. Because if she doesn't fight for women's rights, I don't know what she does in this place."

Certainly, Ambrose needs to explicitly tell Canadians how she reconciles voting in favour of this bill with her duties to advocate for the rights' of women — which she hasn't done yet.

But should she really lose her job over this?

Ambrose's record as Minister for Status of Women is impeccable.

In June 2012, The Canadian Press' Jennifer Ditchburn wrote a great column about Ambrose as a rising star in the Harper government and noted her initiatives — in Canada and internationally — spearheading the International Day of the Girl.

"Rosemary McCarney, president of Plan Canada, says Ambrose became convinced of the merit of such a day when she sat down at the United Nations to meet a group of girls from around the world.

"From the time she left that meeting with those kids, she just went at this issue, she was just a force to be reckoned with," McCarney recalls.

McCarney, who calls herself a "big fan" of Ambrose's, recalls a high-level diplomatic reception last September where the minister pushed for the declaration.

"She just went into this roomful of UN ambassadors, mostly men, 99 per cent men, and you know how petite she is...she just worked that room," said McCarney.

"I don't think they knew what hit them. She was just a force. You can just see her know her file, take a deep breath, and plunge."

Ditchburn also quoted Liberal MP Judy Sgro, who called Ambrose one of the Conservative government's 'best' MPs.

"She actually knows her files and speaks to the files directly in a way that I think is refreshing and great to work with," Sgro said.

Regardless of whether you or agree or disagree with the way Ambrose voted on M-312,  it shouldn't take away from the fact that she is a great Minister for Status of Women.

And, because of that, she should probably keep her job.

[ Related: 'Sex selection abortion' played a role in supporting pro-life motion: Ambrose ]