OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau came under fire at the annual March for Life in Ottawa on Thursday, a day after he said future Liberal candidates "will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills."
With several Conservative MPs and senators at his side, Tory MP Rod Bruinooge told the thousands of people attending the rally on Parliament Hill that his party doesn't weed out candidates who are against abortion.
"I believe you should be able to hold those views and run for political office," Bruinooge said Thursday. "Thankfully in my party I have that right. I can run as a pro-lifer and I'm proud of that."
Even so, Prime Minister Stephen Harper actively opposes any efforts by Bruinooge or other Tories to raise the abortion issue through a bill or parliamentary motion.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair also took Trudeau to task, but for completely different reasons than the Conservatives.
Trudeau has said he'll accept the candidacies of the few sitting Liberal MPs who don't accept the status quo on abortion.
That's not good enough for Mulcair who says New Democrats have no choice on abortion policy.
"In the NDP, no MP is ever going to vote against the woman's right to choose," Mulcair said in Montreal. "No one will be allowed to run for the NDP if they don't believe that it is a right in our society for women to make their own choices on their reproductive health. Period."
Trudeau wasn't in the Commons on Thursday, but earlier in the day he did show up at the National Prayer Breakfast at a downtown hotel.
He read a passage from Proverbs in the Bible about how "the Lord gives wisdom."
While politicians hashed it out on abortion, thousands rallied on Parliament Hill.
"Abortion is not medicine; it damages women," Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life, told the crowd.
The rally also heard from American and former abortion provider Carol Everett who says the number of abortion clinics in Texas has dropped from 44 to nine.
"As a woman who had an abortion and sold abortions, I am delighted to be on the right side with you," she told the crowd. "Thank you for standing for life."
Speakers included Roman Catholic Cardinal Gerald Cyprian Lacroix, who read a letter from Pope Francis supporting the March for Life.
Two topless protesters interrupted him, lunging for the microphone shouting "f--- your morals!" before security took the women away.
Topless pro-choice protesters try to disrupt Gerald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, during Thursday's National March for Life anti-abortion rally. Click here for more photos. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
The theme of the rally was a renewed call for Health Canada to reject approval of abortion pill RU-486.
Campaign Life Coalition says the drug, which starves a growing fetus and causes a miscarriage, can cause uncontrollable bleeding and deadly infections.
The Canadian Federation for Sexual Health insists RU-486 "has been used safely in many other parts of the world."
There was also a small counter-protest nearby, calling for abortion to continue as a taxpayer-funded right in Canada.