Pro-life Liberal Party candidate withdraws from race over Trudeau’s abortion litmus test
OTTAWA, Ontario, May 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Liberal Party candidate has withdrawn from a nomination contest after Justin Trudeau’s team refused to approve his nomination application over concerns about his previous pro-life record.
“It has been ten weeks since I submitted my application to be green lighted. As of last week I had still not heard whether I would be allowed to run for the nomination. My opponents were approved in roughly four weeks,” Gar Knutson, a former Liberal MP from 1993 to 2004 who was seeking the Liberal nomination for Ottawa-Orleans, wrote on his website on Wednesday.
Knutson, an experienced politician, said that Trudeau has made it clear that people with public pro-life convictions are no longer welcome in the Liberal Party.
“Five weeks ago I was called for a second interview, where I was advised that that [sic] the ‘rapid response team’ had concerns over my pro-life activities in my local Catholic Church as well as petitions I presented while a Member of Parliament,” he wrote. “Since then the Leader has been forthright in making his position clear on how Liberal MP’s will vote on bills and motions touching on the issue of abortion.”
Trudeau banned new candidates who are pro-life from running in the Liberal Party’s nominations on May 7 after first promising in the 2013 Liberal leadership showcase that the nominations would be open.
Spokesman for the Liberal Party, Olivier Duchesneau, defended Trudeau’s ban, telling the Globe and Mail: “It’s not surprising that the party wants to make sure that nomination contestants clearly understand the party’s position. Again, their own views have nothing to do in the vetting process only the commitment to vote the party’s position.”
Knutson, a former minister in the Chrétien government, most recently served as Trudeau’s Ottawa-Orléans Campaign Chair in the last leadership race. He was hoping to win the Liberal nomination after running against retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie and lawyer David Bertschi.
Knutson said that while he can appreciate the need for solidarity within a party, he did not want to be in a situation where he would be asked to vote against his own beliefs and convictions.
“I cannot abide by a requirement to vote against my personal conscience on this issue,” he wrote on his website.
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He also stated that MPs should not be muzzled on the topic of abortion in Parliament. “Furthermore, I believe that difficult issues such as balancing the rights of a woman to control her own body against respect for the unborn deserved to be discussed openly in Parliament without precondition.”
Jim Hughes, the national president of Campaign Life Coalition, said he hopes Knutson considers running as an independent Liberal, “in which case we would give him all of our effort in order to help him win the seat.”
Hughes criticized Trudeau for claiming to lead a party that defends the Charter of rights and freedoms.
“He doesn’t even know what the Charter states. It protects freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. Maybe it’s time for all the Liberals across the country to ask for a leadership review,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Hughes also took issue with Trudeau not honoring his former pledge of open nominations.
“For a guy who said there would be open nominations, he is going completely back on his word,” he said.
Knutson had mentioned on his website — before he bowed out of the race — Trudeau’s ethics as part of the reason he wanted to run as a candidate for the Liberal Party.
“I am encouraged by Justin Trudeau’s statement that it is not just winning but how we win that matters,” he wrote at the time. “I believe his ethical stance is the needed antidote to the cynical politics of the Conservatives.”