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Liberal and NDP MPs lament departure of longtime Tory MP as status of women chair

OTTAWA — Liberal and NDP MPs are lamenting the loss of the longtime Conservative chair of the parliamentary committee on the status of women. 

Government members say they were disappointed to learn this week that Karen Vecchio would no longer be at the helm, after having first served as chair in 2017. 

The House of Commons’ website shows Vecchio’s role as committee chair ended this week, and on Thursday the Conservatives on the committee voted in fellow Tory MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman as her replacement. 

Liberal MPs abstained from the vote, but Liberal representative Pam Damoff says she was surprised by Vecchio’s departure, calling her a “strong, competent” and “smart progressive conservative woman” who poured her heart into building relationships with women’s groups. 

Vecchio hasn’t addressed the move publicly, but Damoff and other Liberals say Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre ought to answer for the change. 

Conservative spokesman Sebastian Skamski says changes to committee assignments are not an irregular and that Kramp-Neuman is a “proud female common sense Conservative” who will champion the issues Canadian women are facing.

Leah Gazan, the NDP MP on the committee, applauded Vecchio’s past work as chair, but says today she is “deeply concerned” about what the change could mean. 

Vecchio was first elected as chair involuntarily in 2017 after Liberal MPs on the committee rejected former leader Andrew Scheer’s pick, Alberta MP Rachael Thomas, because of her record on abortion rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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