Scheer says he will not reopen abortion debate, as members vote to uphold policy

Party policy says a Conservative government would not support any legislation to regulate abortion

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer reiterated his pledge not to reopen the abortion debate, hours before party members voted to uphold the existing policy at the Tories’ national convention in Halifax on Saturday.

One of 74 resolutions debated at the convention on Friday proposed removing any reference to regulating abortion from the party’s official policy, but the resolution was narrowly defeated on Saturday.

The party policy currently says a Conservative government would not support any legislation to regulate abortion, and Saturday’s vote of 53 per cent to 47 per cent means that policy will stand.

In an interview with The Canadian Press earlier in the day, Scheer said he would not bring in any legislation to reopen divisive issues such as abortion, even if a majority of members had voted in favour of the resolution.

“I’ve made it very clear that, as prime minister, I will not reopen that debate. I will not introduce legislation to reopen divisive issues or to reopen issues that have already been settled by previous governments,” he said.

During the policy plenary on the closing day of the convention on Saturday, several contentious resolutions were voted on by the general membership, including two other resolutions that deal with abortion — both of which passed.

One says abortion should be explicitly excluded from maternal child and health financial aid that Canada provides to developing countries. That resolution passed easily, so an electronic vote count was not needed.

Another resolution supporting legislation to ensure any child born alive should be given every opportunity to sustain life also passed with a margin of 63 per cent to 37 per cent. That resolution was supported by the anti-abortion lobby group the Campaign Life Coalition.

Before the votes were even held, however, Scheer said that while he welcomes open debates and discussions among the members, he will remain “unequivocal” in his stance that he will not entertain divisive social issues, including abortion.

But abortion wasn’t the only controversial social issue raised in the policy resolutions, each of which were put forward by electoral riding associations from across the country.

Another resolution, which opposed the extension of “euthanasia and assisted suicide” to minors, people with mental illness or “people who are not competent,” passed by a margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent.

Another, which described pornography as a public health risk in need of government regulation to reduce exposure and addiction, was defeated.

The debates elicited many heated arguments about the Conservative party’s ideology and ability to accommodate the views and policy proposals of more socially conservative members within the party.

On Friday, some delegates even passed out handouts dictating how “Conservatives for real Conservative values” should vote on the more controversial social issue resolutions.

For those who aren’t happy with the outcome of some of Saturday’s votes and feel disenfranchised, Scheer said he would like to try to work on areas where they can find consensus.

“A leader’s job is to find common ground,” he said.

“I’m not going to bring in legislation, bring in proposals that would divide our own caucus, divide our own party and divide Canadians.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Good wood; Radium lumbers to top prize

Wood WORKS! BC gives honour to Radium at UBCM

Unsanitary change room conditions exposed at Radium’s hot springs pools

Health inspector felt nothing of concern posed a “serious physical or health risk”

Brewer Creek: a fall classic

Summit Trail Makers Society

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Most Read