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Former Liberal candidate Jane Philpott has stated she stands by her pledge to support access to abortion “despite her beliefs,” but accuses the party she was booted from of playing politics with the hot-button topic.
Philpott, who was once in Justin Trudeau’s gender-balanced 2015 cabinet, is running for re-election as an Independent in her Toronto-area riding following her expulsion during the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Though Philpott says there are areas where she disagrees with the Liberal platform, she has not strayed from the Liberal stance on abortion, describing it as a “right” protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and upheld by the courts. Philpott has no intention of changing her approach when it comes to that topic.
“The commitment that I made as a Liberal not to oppose access to abortion is something that I will maintain a commitment to,” said Philpott in an interview with The Canadian Press yesterday.
Philpott, a family doctor and Mennonite, says her religion doesn’t have an effect on what she would do as MP.
“I have personally never been in the circumstance where I have had to make a decision like that,” said Philpott.
“If I were, my sense would be that unless there were extraordinary extenuating circumstances, that it would not be the right choice for me personally to make for myself,” she said, “but that has nothing to do with my obligations as a member of Parliament to uphold the broad rights that are well-documented for Canadians writ large.”
When came to more controversial practices like gender-specific abortion, Philpott did not give an answer.
“I don’t want to answer a hypothetical question, because I think it really depends on the particular bill that might be before the house,” Philpott said.
One thing that Philpott did say, though, was that she disagrees with the Liberal Party’s approach to conversations about abortion in the months leading up to the election.
“For Liberals in particular to politicize an issue that has to do with the choice that women make about their reproductive rights, I think is highly opportunistic and shows a focus on political expediency rather than truly respecting something that is such a serious and important personal matter for Canadians,” she said.
She was also critical of the Liberals for unearthing a 14-year-old speech by Conservative Party Leader Scheer in which he opposes same-sex marriage, despite the fact that many Liberal Party members held similar views during that time.
“I think it’s what makes Canadians so cynical about politicians,” said Philpott, who made clear that she supported same-sex marriage.
“We should be talking about what good things we are going to do to improve the lives of Canadians, rather than finding ways to amp up divisions amongst Canadians,” she said.