Where 14 Conservative leadership candidates stand on social issues
Leadership candidates prepare for the Conservative Party's French-language leadership debate in Quebec City, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017 10:02PM EST
When it comes to social issues, there are stark differences between the 14 different candidates running for the Conservative leadership, which will be decided May 27.
While Kevin O’Leary and Rick Peterson support same-sex marriage, legal abortion and doctor-assisted death, Brad Trost and Peter Lemieux are on the opposite end of the spectrum. The rest of the candidates are somewhere in between.
Here’s a look at where they stand, based on a campaign survey and three key votes from the Stephen Harper era, when caucus members were allowed to vote freely on matters of conscience. The votes were:
- Motion 312, known as the Woodworth Motion, called on Parliament to review the Criminal Code section that states a child becomes a human being at the moment of complete birth. The 2012 motion from Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth was widely seen as an attempt to re-open the debate about abortion and those who voted in favour are considered more “pro-life.” Conservatives were split on the failed motion, with 86 in favour and 74 opposed.
- Motion 12, introduced in December 2006, would have re-opened the debate on same-sex marriage more than a year-and-a-half after the Liberals’ Civil Marriage Act had legalized it nationwide. MPs voted 175-123 against the motion, with most Conservatives in favour, although 12 sided with the opposition. The definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” was dropped as party policy after a vote at the 2016 convention.
- Bill C-14, introduced last spring by the Liberals to legalize doctor-assisted dying, was supported on the third reading 186-137, with most Liberals in favour and most opposition MPs opposed, although 19 Conservatives supported it.
Abortion: In 2012, Alexander voted against Woodworth’s “pro-life” Motion 312.
Same-sex marriage: Alexander was not an MP in 2006 when Motion 12 was put forward and he did not respond to a request for comment. However he did pledge as immigration minister to favour refugee claims from LGBT Russians after the country introduced its “gay propaganda” law.
Doctor-assisted dying: Unclear
Abortion: Bernier voted against Woodworth’s “pro-life” Motion 312, although his campaign says “he does not believe that any issue is too controversial for debate in Parliament -- including abortion.”
Same-sex marriage: Although Bernier supported Motion 12, which would have re-opened debate on the definition of marriage in 2006, he spoke out in favour of dropping the old definition at the 2016 convention. He marched in Toronto’s pride last summer.
Doctor-assisted dying: Bernier voted against the Liberal’s assisted-dying bill, C-14, and tells CTVNews.ca it “simply goes too far.”
Abortion: Blaney voted against Woodworth's 2012 motion. He tells CTV News.ca: “While I support the position of our party not to reopen the debate, I respect the freedom of members on matter(s) of conscience.”
Same-sex marriage: Although he voted in favour of Motion 12 to re-open debate on the definition of marriage, he supported dropping the definition of marriage at the Conservative convention a decade later.
Doctor-assisted dying: He voted against C-14. “I oppose therapeutic obstinacy and believe in appropriate palliative care to ensure the dignity at the end of our lives, allowing at the same time medical assistance in dying under a strong regulatory framework,” he says.
Abortion: Chong voted in favour of the 2012 Woodworth motion, which is viewed as “pro-life.” However, he tells CTVNews.ca he would “not introduce legislation on abortion, nor will my government re-open the issue.” He adds: “MPs who are not in the government (i.e. backbenchers) have the right to speak and vote freely on matters of conscience.”
Same-sex marriage: Chong voted against re-opening debate on the definition of marriage in 2006. He marched in Toronto’s Pride and says he supports same-sex marriage.
Doctor-assisted dying: Chong was one of 19 Conservatives who voted in favour of Bill C-14 on the third reading, although he skipped the final vote. He says he supports the current legislation and would not revisit it.
Abortion: Although Leitch voted against the 2012 Woodworth motion, she tells CTVNews.ca that she is in fact “pro-life,” because “as a paediatric surgeon, a significant part of my career has involved taking care of disabled children -- children that have reached amazing potential because they were given the chance of life.” However, Leitch says she will not “initiate or support any legislation to regulate abortion” because she is “focused on issues that will unite Canadians not divide them.”
Same-sex marriage: Leitch marched at Toronto’s Pride and supported the party’s 2016 policy change. “I will continue to support that position as party leader,” she tells CTVNews.ca. “One of the core values of the Conservative Party and of my campaign for leader is the value of freedom.”
Doctor-assisted dying: Leitch voted against Bill C-14 on the third reading and skipped the final vote. She tells CTVNews.ca that she is “opposed to euthanasia” and has concerns about the new law, including “the secondary impacts on those to whom tasks under this legislation are delegated” and the “failures” of governments to provide palliative care options.
Abortion: Lemieux told the Campaign Life Coalition that he does not support access to abortion under any circumstances. He voted in favour of the 2012 Woodworth motion.
Same-sex marriage: He supported Motion 12, which would have re-opened debate on the definition of marriage in 2006. He said “I fully support the traditional definition of marriage.”
Doctor-assisted dying: He told Parliament in 2009 that he would vote against “each and every attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide,” adding “every single human life is precious from the moment of conception right through to natural death.”
Abortion: Obhrai voted against Woodworth’s Motion 312. He tells CTVNews.ca that he will “not impose” his “particular beliefs on this situation.”
Same-sex marriage: He voted in favour of the 2006 bill to re-open the debate on marriage, but in 2016 he supported dropping the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. He tells CTVNews.ca that he will “uphold our Constitution which believes in Human and Equal Rights for all,” adding that “all persons who are in a relationship as defined by LAW (not religion) should have the same rights to property, to services, and family law that everyone is granted under our charter of rights.”
Doctor-assisted dying: Obhrai voted with the Liberals on C-14. He tells CTVNews.ca he “supports it.”
Abortion: “Kevin believes in a woman’s right to choose,” his campaign says.
Same-sex marriage: “Kevin does not care who people marry,” according to his campaign.
Doctor-assisted dying: “The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue, and Parliament has passed a new law, which Kevin supports,” according to his campaign.
Abortion: O’Toole was not an MP when the Woodworth motion was considered. He won’t say whether he is pro-life or pro-choice and the Campaign Life Coalition says his position is “unclear.” However, he tells CTVNews.ca that he “will not bring forward government legislation on abortion,” adding, “I respect the beliefs of all MPs and encourage them to bring their perspectives and passions to the House in a respectful way.”
Same-sex marriage: O’Toole says he supports same-sex marriage. “Our Party had a passionate and respectful debate about this issue at our last convention and at the end of the day we all had a beer together,” he tells CTVNews.ca.
Doctor-assisted dying: O’Toole voted against C-14. He tells CTVNews.ca that he “continue(s) to have serious concerns about assisted suicide and prefer resources to be focused on palliative care. My concern with euthanasia is on both a personal and legal level. I do not think it is appropriate for society to make determinations on the quality of a life and to engage our public healthcare system to end that life.”
Abortion: Peterson says he is “pro-choice.”
Same-sex marriage: Peterson tells CTVNews.ca that he supports same-sex marriage.
Doctor-assisted dying: Peterson says he supports assisted-dying.
Abortion: Raitt voted against the Woodworth motion and she’s not considered “pro-life” by the Campaign Life Coalition. She told CTV’s Power Play in January that although she wouldn’t legislate limits on abortion, she is opposed to abortion. "My mother had me and was going to give me up for adoption. She chose not to have an abortion, so I have some really personal views about it," Raitt said.
Same-sex marriage: Raitt supported the 2016 motion to remove the traditional definition of marriage as party policy and she marched in Toronto’s Pride parade.
Doctor-assisted dying: Raitt voted against C-14, the bill that legalized doctor-assisted death.
Abortion: Saxton voted against the Woodworth motion. He says that although he “would not re-open” the debate, he does believe “MPs should be free to vote their conscience.”
Same-sex marriage: Saxton says he “would not re-open” the issue but does believe “MPs should be free to vote their conscience.”
Doctor-assisted dying: Again, Saxton says he “would not re-open” the issue but does believe “MPs should be free to vote their conscience.”
Abortion: Scheer did not vote on the 2012 Woodworth motion because he was speaker. However, based on previous votes and statements, he is considered “pro-life” by the Campaign Life Coalition.
Same-sex marriage: Although Scheer voted in favour of the failed 2006 motion re-open debate on the definition of marriage in 2006, but later supported dropping the party’s definition of marriage in 2016.
Doctor-assisted dying: He voted against C-14. His campaign tells CTVNews.ca that due to the “wide diversity of views” he would “always focus on matters that unite our caucus, such as increasing conscience protections when it comes to euthanasia.”
Abortion: Trost is pro-life, according to his campaign. That’s backed up by his vote in favour of the 2012 Woodworth motion.
Same-sex marriage: Trost is opposed, according to his campaign. He voted in favour of Motion 12 in 2006 and opposed dropping the definition of traditional marriage from party policy last fall.
Doctor-assisted dying: Trost’s campaign says he’s opposed. He voted against C-14.