A U.S. Supreme Court leak indicating a reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is prompting the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership candidates to publicize their stance on abortion rights.
The draft opinion is reinvigorating a debate that is often part of the party’s leadership race discourse, bringing to light internal policy divisions.
Three candidates, Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis, and Scott Aitchison, all sitting members of Parliament, have been advised by leader Candice Bergen not to speak to the draft opinion as it remains before the U.S. courts.
Nevertheless, Aitchison released a video about the developments.
“There will be many who say this is an American issue, but the blunt reality is that all too often, the political discourse we see in the United States becomes part of our politics too,” he said.
Aitchison said Canada “must do better” to cool the polarizing rhetoric present in the U.S. and act with “respect and empathy” when debating contentious issues.
He then went on to say he defends a woman’s right to personal choice regarding all reproductive health services.
“Let me be clear: I will ensure that women have access to the resources they need to make their own informed reproductive healthcare decisions, without judgment,” he said.
CTVNews.ca received a statement from Lewis’ campaign noting she won’t comment on the documents as they don’t represent a final decision but reiterated the candidate’s pro-life agenda, outlined in her “No Hidden Agenda” platform.
Meanwhile, Jean Charest tweeted out that he is “pro-choice.”
“A [government] under my leadership will not support legislation restricting reproductive rights. While I respect the democratic rights of MPs to bring forward private members bills on matters of conscience, I will not vote to support them,” he continued.
Patrick Brown issued a press release earlier in the day echoing that while this is a U.S. matter, “it’s important for leaders to commit to protecting women’s rights.”
“Abortion in Canada should be safe, legal, and, in my personal opinion, rare. That’s why my government will support women and families with policies that encourage other options, such as adoption and increased parental supports,” he said.
“This is why it’s important for us to be clear where we stand. A Conservative Party led by me will not change Canada’s abortion laws. Period.”
However, he said that Liberals and NDP will exploit the issue and use it to attack the Conservative Party.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly made a point of connecting the news out of the U.S. to the Conservative’s leadership race while addressing reporters earlier in the day.
“We also know that there is a leadership race happening as we speak within the Conservative Party and candidates are all trying to court the anti-choice vote. And so, we need to make sure that we do not reopen the debate,” she said.
“Our government has been clear, steadfast in our support for women’s rights to choose.”
Roman Baber said he doesn’t believe government has a role in how people “start or grow” their families but that he will respect the right of every Canadian to “seek nomination, introduce legislation, and vote freely” on matters of conscience.
“The Conservative Party must welcome diversity of opinion,” he tweeted.
Poilievre’s team did not respond to CTVNews.ca’s request for a statement at the time of publication.