SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Feb. 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The local bishop of a top contender for the leadership of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party who has asserted he is a “practicing Catholic” while pledging support for legal abortion and same-sex “marriage”, told LifeSiteNews.com he will handle the situation “directly and personally.”
Saskatoon’s Dr. Ryan Meili has won some top level endorsements for the March 9th leadership contest. Recently he complained to the StarPhoenix newspaper Jan. 24th about “rumours and innuendo” on his abortion position, citing e-mails that compared him to U.S. vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a staunchly pro-life Catholic.
"To put it simply, I am a practising Catholic, but I'm also a practising physician and a practising New Democrat," Meili said.
"I recognize the distinction between personal beliefs and political and legal policy and what I see in terms of policy around this is this (abortion) is a legal procedure and it should remain so and it should be (part of) a full spectrum of reproductive health services from education to contraception to termination for those who choose and all the other options for those who choose other options,” he added.
Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon is travelling overseas, but responded to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment through a spokeswoman.
Kiply Yaworski, the diocese’s communications director, said the bishop thanked LifeSiteNews for the interview request but indicated that “he prefers to decline the invitation, and as bishop, to address the situation directly and personally.”
The New Democrats currently hold nine seats in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, with the remaining 49 seats held by Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party.
Meili ran a failed bid for the party leadership in 2009, and has never held a seat in the legislature. But he has won an endorsement from Niki Ashton, an ardent abortion advocate who serves as the federal NDP’s Status of Women Critic, as well as local NDP insiders.
Meili has a released a policy statement supporting “universal access to sexual and reproductive health.” In addition to supporting “termination” as a “legal, publicly insured procedure,” he calls for taxpayer-funded coverage of contraceptives and the implementation of “age-appropriate, objective, evidence-based curriculum on reproductive and sexual health” in both the public and separate school systems.
In another policy on gender equality, the candidate calls for the province to add “gender identity” to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
The New Democrats nationwide have adopted an official pro-abortion position in recent decades, and now demand that all candidates for the party adopt the same position. In the lead-up to the federal election in 2011, then-leader Jack Layton pledged to promote even greater access to abortion than is currently available in Canada.