OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says abortion is a fundamental right and suggested Sunday he would make it part of a Liberal global maternal health strategy.
“This is about democracy,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period, less than a week after an anti-abortion MP in his caucus called him a "bozo" for weeding out candidates if they didn’t adhere to his pro-choice position and vote accordingly in the House of Commons.
Trudeau’s shift from previous leaders has upset the Catholic Church, the Campaign Life Coalition and others opposed to his no-choice stand.
He said 100 candidates hoping to carry the Grit banner next year have already been screened to determine they conform to the party’s policy.
One of the unsuccessful ones, a former cabinet minister, withdrew his nomination after his application was stonewalled because of his anti-abortion work.
Gar Knutson had planned to seek the nomination in Ottawa-Orleans, where Trudeau’s preferred candidate, retired general Andrew Leslie, is seeking to represent the Ottawa suburb against local lawyer David Bertschi.
Trudeau dismissed the backlash.
“I prefer the level of clarity that we’ve established right now that people know that the Liberal party will stand up and defend a woman’s fundamental rights.”
He said he’s heard from people critical of his ultimatum, and said he didn’t roll it out to woo female voters.
“This is not a position about trying to gain votes or trying to play a certain angle," he said. "This is very much a position of principle.”
He was asked about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s $3 billion international maternal health commitment last week that excludes abortion and whether his party would pledge to fund abortion as part of its platform.
“We would fund organizations that protect women’s rights and offer them a full range of options,” he said.