Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has affirmed he remains personally opposed to abortion.
But he insists he would still vote against attempts to restrict reproductive rights in Parliament if his party is elected to govern on Oct. 21.
Scheer took a beating from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet in TVA’s French-language leaders debate on Wednesday night, when he was pushed repeatedly to state his personal view on a woman’s right to reproductive choice.
The other leaders affirmed their personal support for reproductive rights as well as same-sex marriage; when Scheer refused to do the same, they argued he would not protect the rights of Canadian women and LGBTQ2 individuals.
And those attacks continued on Thursday morning, with Trudeau accusing Scheer during a campaign stop of not supporting women’s rights.
Scheer was then asked by reporters to clarify his personal position on abortion.
“I’ve always answered this question openly and honestly. From the first time I ran for office in 2004 to when I ran for the leadership of the party in 2016 to after I won the leadership of the party, my personal position has always been open and consistent,” he said on Thursday during a campaign stop in New Brunswick.
“I am personally pro-life but I’ve also made the commitment that as leader of this party, it is my responsibility to ensure that we do not reopen this debate: that we focus on issues that unite our party and unite Canadians, and that’s exactly what I’ll do and why I’ll vote against measures that attempt to reopen this debate.”
Trudeau said in 2011 he personally opposes abortion but believes it is up to a woman to make the choice about what is best for her.
He has required all candidates running for the Liberals to support reproductive choice and agree to vote to uphold it in the event it is brought to the floor of the House of Commons, and directed Canadian international aid funding toward reproductive and sexual health services, including abortion access where it is legal.
He has also criticized what he called the “backsliding” of abortion rights in the United States under the Trump administration.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also vowed not to let anti-abortion candidates run for his party.
Scheer, in contrast, has vowed not to reopen the debate but has not pledged to block anti-abortion members of his caucus from introducing motions or private members’ bills in the House of Commons that aim to restrict abortion rights.
He has also said all caucus members would be allowed to vote their conscience and the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition bills his voting record on anti-abortion bills and motions as “perfect.”
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