OTTAWA, May 7, 2014 ( – Candidates who oppose abortion are barred from running in the Liberal Party’s ‘open’ nominations for the 2015 federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau confirmed Wednesday.

The pro-abortion Catholic said the decision would not affect sitting MPs who are pro-life, but said it was “tough” to answer whether the party would try to force existing pro-life MPs to vote pro-abortion.

The remarks come a mere day before thousands of pro-life Canadians are expected to fill Parliament Hill during the annual National March for Life.


“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills,” Trudeau said, according to CBC News, after the Liberals’ caucus meeting.

“The existing MPs…will be respected to a certain extent in their choices, but our position as a party is we do not reopen that debate,” he said.

The Liberal leader confirmed that part of the vetting process for potential candidates includes a litmus test on moral issues like abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

“We make sure that the people who are stepping forward are consistent with the Liberal Party as it is now, as it stands under my leadership and under the feedback we're getting from Canadians across the country,” he said, according to CBC.

Asked if the party would whip votes on abortion, he said, “It is a tough one. … We are steadfast in our belief … it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. And that is the bottom line.”

Campaign Life Coalition accused Trudeau of speaking “out of both sides of his mouth” in promoting open nominations while forcing candidates to adopt his moral outlook.

“We invite Justin Trudeau to come to Parliament Hill tomorrow and repeat his statement to the thousands of young and older voters who are rallying there to defend all human life from the time of conception (fertilization) until natural death,” said Jim Hughes, Campaign Life Coalition’s national president. “We hope that Liberal supporters who try to tell us that their party is open and accountable will now face the truth.”

“Trudeau says he will be screening the candidates to see where they stand on abortion and so will we,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, Campaign Life Coalition’s national organizer. “But how will we ever distinguish the Liberal Party from the NDP or is that the idea?”

In March 2013 as a candidate for the Liberal leadership, Trudeau had said he would force Liberal MPs to support the “right to choose.”

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CBC’s Kady O’Malley asked each of the six Liberal leadership candidates about the decision to declare Mark Warawa’s gendercide motion non-votable, and what level of freedom they would allow MPs for private members bills and public statements.

In a reply on Twitter, Trudeau said he is “committed to giving MPs more freedom to represent Canadians, but MPs would be required to support Canadians’ fundamental rights.”

“For me, a woman's right to choose is a fundamental right,” he added.

The Liberal Party has taken a strong pro-abortion position for decades. As the party’s leader, Pierre Trudeau oversaw the passage of the 1969 Omnibus bill that legalized abortion.

However, they have also produced some of the strongest pro-life MPs on Parliament Hill over the years, such as Tom Wappel, Pat O’Brien, and Paul Szabo.

The Liberals’ historic loss in the 2011 election saw the pro-life numbers in the party diminish, but still in 2012 four members of the party voted in favour of Stephen Woodworth’s motion to consider the humanity of the unborn child: Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt), Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North), Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan), and John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood).

Trudeau’s commitment to the status quo of government-funded abortion-on-demand is well-established and many have labeled him an extremist on the issue.

In February 2012, he went so far as to suggest that he would support the separation of Quebec if Canada moved to restrict abortion or same-sex “marriage”.

“I always say, if at a certain point, I believe that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper – that we were going against abortion, and we were going against gay marriage, and we were going backwards in 10,000 different ways – maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country,” he told Radio-Canada.

Those comments were seen as particularly egregious in light of his father’s legacy as a champion of Canadian federalism.