OTTAWA, Ontario, April 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Conservative Party is in full damage control mode and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has again vowed never to reopen the abortion debate, after one of his MPs made pro-life remarks at a recent pro-life convention.
“As long as I’m prime minister, we are not reopening the abortion debate,” said Harper on Thursday at a hockey rink in Conception Bay South, N.L. “This is not the priority of the Canadian people, or of this government. The priority is the economy. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”
“The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated.”
Conservative MP Brad Trost, one of the most outspoken pro-life politicians in the country, who ran a campaign in 2009 to get International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) defunded, had thanked the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association at their annual convention last weekend for their support in compiling petitions. A recording of his remarks was leaked to the media after it was obtained by Liberal supporters.
“Those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been an absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers dollars,” Trost said.
“They’re still trying to get their snout back in the public trough and so there’s going to be a lot of pressure,” he added.
The Conservative Party, which has been fighting claims that they have a “hidden agenda” on abortion, quickly distanced itself from Trost’s statements. In an urgent press conference at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas said Trost is “a backbench MP who, without question, isn’t aware of the way that our program works.”
“I honestly don’t know where he got his information,” he said.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was quick to jump on Trost’s remarks. “This is why people talk about a secret agenda,” he said. “Stuff gets slipped; you know there are private members bills, there are this and that. Nothing is clear. Nothing is transparent.”
“My obligation to voters is to say if you vote Liberal, you’re voting for a party that believes in a woman’s right to choose,” he added.
IPPF, which has received funding from Canada for decades, has complained that they’ve had to rely on ‘reserve’ funds since the federal government’s three-year grant of $18 million expired in December 2009. Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda, who oversees the Canadian International Development Agency, had said in September they were considering a funding proposal from IPPF.
Giving a grant to the world’s largest abortion provider would appear at odds with the government’s pledge as part of their G8 maternal health initiative last year not to fund abortion overseas. Soudas reaffirmed that pledge Thursday, but simultaneously said the Conservatives are willing to work with IPPF, although he wouldn’t say that they would receive funding.
IPPF senior adviser for resource mobilization Matthew Lindley told the Ottawa Citizen that their current proposal to CIDA seeks funds for their work in countries where abortion is illegal, because otherwise they would have had to restrict their abortion work in countries where it’s legal. That proposal was at the ministerial review stage before the federal election was called, he said.
Oda’s chief of staff William Stairs told the Toronto Star Wednesday regarding IPPF’s application that CIDA is “still reviewing the file.”
In his address to the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, Trost trumpeted several significant pro-life victories in the last couple years, including the overwhelming rejection of the euthanasia bill and the defeat of Liberal MP Bob Rae’s motion calling for abortion in the maternal health initiative.
In addition to their abortion activities, IPPF seeks to deny doctors the right to follow their conscience and religious beliefs regarding abortion referrals. They have recently upped their efforts to promote a radical sexual agenda among youth, including by training Ecuadorean children as young as 11 to inject their peers with the abortifacient contraceptive drug Depo-Provera.
Trost said the motion’s defeat showed that “a majority of Members of Parliament in Canada believe that the unborn has at least some value.” “This is the first time since the 1960s that there has been a majority of Members of Parliament who have said ‘no’, we’re not quite sure totally what the value of unborn human life is, but it does have some value,” he said.
Trost called the pro-life movement “the biggest civil rights, human rights, actual issue that is still unmet in our western society.”
“Keep up the pressure, don’t be shy, this is a fundamental human right,” he insisted. “The basic thing that government can do is to protect liberty, to protect property, and protect life. That is our duty as government and representatives of broader society. Hold us to account on that.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
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Bev Oda, MP (Durham) and Minister of International Cooperation
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