Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper: We Won’t Touch Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 4, 2011   |   1:00PM   |   Washington, DC

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged today that the Conservative Party will not touch the issue of abortion if voters reward the party with a majority government — expanding the current minority government they currently operate.

The Harper administration has disappointed pro-life advocates by failing to promote legislation to limit abortions or even to support a bill that would at least protect pregnant women and unborn children from violent attacks. Manitoba MP Rod Bruinooge tabled a bill that would have allowed two charges when a criminal kills a pregnant woman and her unborn child in the commission of a crime outside the context of abortion. Even though abortions were specifically excluded from the bill, Harper did not support the legislation and recommended to Conservative MPs that they not support the measure.

The measure had the support of many Conservatives, including members of Harper’s own Cabinet: Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney and Gail Shea, among others. But Harper voted with other cabinet members James Moore and Lawrence Cannon in opposing the measure.

Today, according to the Montreal Gazette, Harper said he has “no intention of opening up” issues such as abortion if conservatives receive a majority government in the upcoming elections.

“Our agenda is the same agenda with a majority government or a minority government,” he told reporters. “We will govern on the platform that we are elected on, and as I’ve said before, if the population of Canada elects a minority, I will gladly accept that. They’ve done that twice, and it’s a great honor. We are Conservatives. We don’t have an entitlement to government.”

But pro-life groups are disappointed Harper voted to oppose even a very small measure of the legal protections unborn children should be entitled to under Canadian law.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition displayed some of the anger pro-life Canadians have expressed towards Harper following the vote on the unborn victims bill.

“Some have believed that Mr. Harper was a closeted pro-lifer waiting for a majority so he could enact pro-life legislation,” he said. “With this vote against a bill to ban coerced abortion his true colors have been revealed once and for all.”

“He said at one time his beliefs on the matter fell somewhere in the middle. If he simply didn’t want to appear to be pro-life, he should have just stayed away,” Mr. Hughes continued. “Everyone opposes coerced abortion. Why paint himself as an extremist on abortion?”

“I guess he figures social conservatives have no where to go politically,” he added. “Didn’t the Reform Party teach us what happens when Conservatives go to the left?”

The legislation would have made it illegal for anyone to coerce a woman into an abortion through threats of violence, withdrawal of financial resources or denial of a place to live.

Bruinooge said the bill, also known as Roxanne’s Law, is a response to the murder of Winnipeg constituent Roxanne Fernando, who was beaten to death by three men because she refused to have an abortion. Her body was found in a frozen ditch outside the city a few days after she vanished.

But, the House of Commons killed his private member’s bill by a vote of 178 to 97.