Scheer pressed on abortion debate on campaign trail
OTTAWA - Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s first stop on the second day of the federal election campaign was preoccupied by the ongoing abortion debate that has dogged the Tories for the past several weeks.
Making a quick stop in North York, Toronto, Scheer dismissed another video posted by the Liberal Party on Twitter, showing the Conservative representative for York Centre, Rachel Willson, expressing her desire to end abortion, via "pro-life legislation" at a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
The video was shared by Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal candidate for the riding of Toronto - St. Paul's in another attempt to tarnish the Conservative brand on social issues.
In the video, Willson say she’s been “passionate about advancing the pro-life cause for many years.”
"We believe that there are two parts involved in advancing pro-life legislation: the number one is prayer and there’s action. We believe in prayer not only for ending abortion in general but also for the specific woman who in this moment might be considering abortion," she said in the video.
Scheer was asked whether he would allow Willson to bring forward legislation on anti-abortion if she earns a seat in the House of Commons.
"We have always made it very clear that we will not support re-opening this issue,” he said. “As prime minister I will oppose and vote against any measure that does attempt to do that.”
He went on to criticize Bennett and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for trying to put forward a message that was “completely false.”
"It’s no surprise because her leader has been lying about issues for quite some time now," he added.
Willson also took questions from reporters. She said she was "grateful" that her leader allows for free votes but didn’t confirm whether she’d bring forward legislation on the issue.
"I’ve never hidden behind the fact that I’m pro-life," she said. "I’m planning to focus on issues I’m hearing about at the door. I’ve been knocking on door for a year-and-a-half in the community. We’ve been building a great momentum."
The Conservative leader made the statements at a child care centre while also announcing a tax break on E.I., maternity, and parental benefits.
"Making maternity benefits tax-free will put $4,000 back in your pocket so you can focus on your newborn and not worry too much about your bottom line or bank balance," said Scheer.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was pressed on the abortion debate issue in a subsequent appearance in Victoria, B.C., reinstating his "pro-choice" position.
"That is my core conviction and that’s how actually I’ve led the government over the last four years and ensured that every single candidate running for the Liberal Party agrees that defending women’s rights, and women’s right to choose, is unequivocal for the Liberal Party."
"[Women] need to know that their leaders will be there to defend their rights. That is something that I’ve made clear on and I think it’s up to Canadians whether or not other leaders have been equally clear."
Scheer will face off against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tonight in a debate hosted by Maclean’s and Citytv. Trudeau has declined the invitation.