Abortion is an ever-present topic in Canadian politics. It was former Prime Minister Harper’s supposed “secret agenda” and is current Prime Minister Trudeau’s public pro-abortion agenda, especially through foreign aid. As the Conservative Party of Canada [CPC] leadership race unfolds, those with aspirations to lead need to be able to speak confidently about abortion legislation.
In contrast to Andrew Scheer during the 2019 election, the 2020 leadership candidates have an opportunity to support their own party’s policy, be in line with the majority Canadians, and appeal to the pro-life members of the party. That opportunity is MP Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s Bill C-233 the Sex Selective Abortion Act.
It seems like a win-win, but up until now somehow both O’Toole and MacKay have missed it.
Unlike Scheer, who was left to comment on any hypothetical piece of legislation that touches abortion, these candidates have a concrete piece of legislation that they can either support or oppose. And it is not a complicated bill: it prohibits a physician from knowingly performing an abortion because of the sex of the pre-born child, a practice that clearly runs contrary to Canada’s commitment to equality between the sexes.
Not only is it a straightforward piece of legislation, it is directly in line with Conservative Party policy #81 which address women’s rights and declares that, as a party, they “condemn discrimination against girls through gender selection abortions.” Additionally, this bill has broad support, with 84% of Canadians saying they support this type of legislation in a poll that came out earlier this year.
A leader of the Conservative Party of Canada needs to be straightforward and needs to represent their party – supporting the Sex Selective Abortion Act is a great way to accomplish this. Candidates Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan have confirmed their support for the legislation, and it is our hope to get clear statements of support from Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay as well.
It is not about being pro-life or pro-choice – both O’Toole and Mackay have been clear that they are pro-choice. Rather, this is about addressing discrimination at the earliest stages of life, supporting their own party’s policy, and listening to what the vast majority of Canadians support.
There is much to gain politically for both MacKay and O’Toole by supporting this bill. All candidates should be concerned about what the membership wants, including pro-life members. While members may have already decided on their first choice, many are still figuring out how to rank their ballot. The way candidates respond to this bill could determine how and if certain candidates get ranked.
If you are a member of the Conservative party, or just a Canadian with an interest in what our leaders believe about pre-born human rights, consider writing to MacKay and O’Toole’s campaigns and ask them whether they would vote in favour of Bill C-233: The Sex Selective Abortion Act. Consider sharing our Position Paper on sex selective abortions or pointing them to DefendGirls.com for more information.