Abortion opponents not welcome to run for Liberals in 2015, Trudeau says
Published Wednesday, May 7, 2014 3:26PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 7, 2014 8:03PM EDT
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stated in no uncertain terms that he will not support the nomination of any prospective Liberal MPs who are anti-abortion, saying Wednesday, “It is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body.”
Speaking to reporters, Trudeau said would-be Liberal candidates who are anti-abortion will be flagged and barred during the nomination process.
“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills,” he said.
The beliefs of long-time Liberal MPs who are opposed to abortion “will be respected to a certain extent,” Trudeau said.
The Liberal leader was asked about abortion ahead of Thursday’s annual "March for Life," in which people who are anti-abortion protest on Parliament Hill.
The Liberal party did not have an official position on abortion until the 2012 national convention, where delegates voted in favour of a resolution that endorsed a woman’s right to choose.
It’s for this reason that Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner said he feels “comfortable” with Trudeau’s rule.
“He’s reflecting a policy that came from the membership, that came off the policy floor in 2012,” Cuzner said in an interview on CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday. “We’ve long been a party of choice.”
John McKay, one of a handful of anti-abortion Liberal MPs, said Wednesday that he’d likely have a “few awkward moments” being in the minority on the issue.
“Every MP has some points of estrangement between he and his party or she and her party,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Trudeau said the Liberals are placing a discerning eye on prospective candidates’ views on many issues ahead of a federal election in 2015, including on same-sex marriage and the Charter of Rights.
“We make sure that the people who are stepping forward are consistent with the Liberal party as it is now, as it stands under my leadership and under the feedback we’re getting from Canadians across the country,” Trudeau said.
Opposition parties, however, suggested that the Liberal leader is going too far.
NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie said on Power Play that Trudeau is creating “two tiers” of support for choice and women’s rights.
“He’s saying, ‘You’ve got to sign a paper saying you’re pro-choice.’ I think that’s a problem,” she said.
The expectation is that if a candidate is joining any political party, they hold the same “core values” anyway, Leslie said.
Conservative MP James Rajotte said the rule alienates people who are politically minded.
“If they say, ‘There’s not a home for me there whatsoever, that I can’t even express my view, hold my view and be a Liberal,’” Rajotte said on Power Play. “I think it’s a mistake on their party politically.”
The Conservative Party will “continue to accept people who are pro-choice and pro-life,” Rajotte added.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he won’t re-visit the issue of abortion in the House of Commons, and has taken action in the past to prevent backbencher Conservatives from putting forth private members’ bills on the matter.
With files from The Canadian Press