TORONTO, Ontario, June 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leadership contender and M.P. Erin O’Toole said that should he become prime minister, he would defend women’s “right” to “choose for themselves” to have an abortion during the CPC French-language leadership debate last night.
“As a prime minister, I will defend the rights of people including women to choose for themselves when it comes to abortion. And if you hear anything to the contrary tonight, it will be a lie,” said O’Toole in the debate in French as translated to English on CPAC.
O’Toole’s pro-abortion comments were made in an answer to a question related to national defense. They came about despite the fact that he has billed himself as a “True Blue” conservative in his campaign and recently said he should be a “second choice” for social conservatives in a leaked video emailed to the CBC.
O’Toole joined the three other CPC leadership hopefuls, M.P. Derek Sloan, Leslyn Lewis, and former M.P. Peter MacKay. Both Sloan and Lewis identify themselves as pro-family and pro-life, while MacKay is openly pro-abortion.
The French CPC leadership debate was held in Toronto yesterday to no audience. Candidates responded in French to pre-written questions from a moderator. The English debate began at 7 P.M. EDT on June 18.
During the back-and-forth portion of the debate, MacKay took on O’Toole and directly accused him of “saying one thing in French and something completely different in English” in a reference to his opening notes about being pro-choice.
“Your whole campaign is based on lies. Are you pro-choice or what? Tell us, tell us,” said MacKay to O’Toole in French as translated to English on CPAC.
In the debate, MacKay spelled out his pro-abortion position.
“I’m pro-choice. I agree with gay marriage. I can win in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and I can strengthen our base in the West. That’s what we have to do. We have to take a position where we welcome everybody,” said MacKay in French as translated to English on CPAC.
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While O’Toole did not answer MacKay directly in the debate, in speaking to reporters afterward in English, he reaffirmed that he supports a woman’s “right” to have her baby killed while in the womb.
“Je suis pro-choix,” said O’Toole to reporters, which translates to “I am pro-choice,” when asked about his abortion position.
“I’ve always said I will defend all rights, including rights for women, that’s a pro-choice position. It’s their decision, not mine, and I will defend their right to make that decision[.] … [M]y personal view is to let women choose for themselves,” said O’Toole to reporters.
He also told reporters, “A large reason I lost the last leadership [is] because I was viewed as too moderate on those issues.”
Pro-life candidate and M.P. Sloan reaffirms his respect for life in debate
In his opening debate statement in French, Sloan wasted no time in again reaffirming his pro-life stance.
“Pregnancy is not a disease; abortion cannot be health care. As prime minister, I would prevent Canada from funding abortions internationally and encourage debate on this,” said Sloan in the French-to-English translation on CPAC.
Last week, Sloan said boldly on social media that abortion is “not health care” in response to news that the Canadian government will use taxpayer money to fund abortions abroad.
During the debate, Sloan also touched on his plan to defend freedom of expression, as well as ensuring that the conservative voice in the party is heard.
Sloan also said he is the only candidate willing and ready to take Canada out of the Paris Climate Agreement in a response to a question about the environment.
“Canadians have a choice: if they want to protect the environment, they can work for climate realism the way I suggest, or they can vote for a more alarmist climate vision,” said Sloan in the French-to-English translation on CPAC.
“I am the only candidate that is ready to take us out of the very unrealistic Paris agreement that has already been used as an excuse to force the carbon tax on the provinces.”
While Lewis did not mention her pro-life position directly at any other point in the debate, in her opening remarks, she did say there needs to be “compassion for vulnerable people” and that she wants to see the “family” as the “cornerstone of society.”
When asked about her views on diverging social conservatives in the CPC party, in speaking with reporters after the debate, Lewis said she finds that the social conservative voice is muzzled.
“I actually find it’s the opposite in the party. What happens is, people, tell social conservatives you can’t have that view, that debate is closed, that issue is over, we’re not going to talk about that,” said Lewis in the French-to-English translation on CPAC.
“Social conservatives in my perspective are welcoming of people with other views. And that’s the whole thing: in a democracy, we want divergence of perspectives.”
During the back-and-forth portion of the debate between candidates, Lewis directly asked MacKay if he would allow Cabinet members to vote their conscience should he become the CPC leader.
MacKay responded that “yes,” he would allow for this.
Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) blasts O’Toole’s remarks to the media, praises Sloan’s French debate performance
Today, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) blasted O’Toole’s pro-abortion remarks made to the media in his post-debate interview.
“No self-respecting #prolife Conservative should rank O’Toole on the ballot. … This cheerleader for child murder doesn’t deserve your support,” said CLC on their Facebook page with a link to O’Toole’s interview.
“Pls rank only Sloan and Lewis in the #1 and/or #2 ballot positions, in whatever order you prefer,” added CLC, with a link to its CPC voters guide.
CLC director of political operations Jack Fonseca told LifeSiteNews that the organization was pleased with Sloan’s performance in the debate.
“We were very impressed with Derek Sloan’s performance. His opening and closing remarks included powerful statements on pro-life, free speech, and family values,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews.
“He repeatedly brought up key issues like defunding overseas abortions and opposing Bill C-8, Trudeau’s criminalization of reparative therapy and spiritual counselling for unwanted gender confusion and same-sex attraction. He really did a fantastic job, a la Brad Trost.”
When asked about Lewis’s performance, Fonseca said that while she was “quiet” on social issues, he was pleased she pressed MacKay in getting him to say he would allow a free conscience vote to Cabinet members should he win.
“Leslyn Lewis was quiet on social issues, and we hope she’ll be more vocal on our issues during tonight’s English debate,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. “But she did manage to extract from Peter MacKay a commitment to allow Cabinet Ministers to vote their conscience on social issues. That represented a welcome about-face from his previous policy.”
In a further analysis of the debate, Fonseca noted to LifeSiteNews the value of having two candidates who affirm themselves as pro-life and pro-family.
“This debate showed the value of having outspoken pro-life/pro-family candidates. They are helping to move the debate forward and, I believe, creating more openness to social conservative values both in the CPC and across the nation,” said Fonseca.
“I can’t wait to watch tonight’s English debate. It promises to feature life and family issues front and centre.”