Scheer says Liberals deflecting from scandals with abortion, same-sex marriage

Scheer says Liberals deflecting from scandals with abortion, same-sex marriage

Conservatives had been expecting Andrew Scheer’s record to be an issue for them during the campaign

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sought Thursday to put a pin in the question of whether his party would reopen debates on abortion or same-sex marriage, blaming the Liberals for trying to aggravate ancient divisions to distract from their own failures.

Scheer has long been on the record as opposing both abortion and same-sex marriage personally, and disavowed neither of those positions Thursday despite being asked several times for clarity.

Instead, after a week of silence in the face of repeated calls for him to address a 14-year-old speech he gave in Parliament against same-sex marriage, and confusion in Quebec over whether his MPs could bring forward private members’ bills on abortion, he sought to reassure Canadians that if elected prime minister, his own opinions won’t get in the way.

“While every individual Canadian has a right to their own personal convictions on any number of issues, I will always ensure I am governing for all Canadians,” he said in a press conference at a Toronto airport hotel.

“And on this issue I have been very clear I will not reopen this debate, I will oppose measures or attempts to open this debate.”

As a member of Parliament who is also a practising Catholic, Scheer has consistently voted in favour of efforts that were understood to restrict abortion rights, and in 2005 gave a speech against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he said then that while same-sex couples can be in loving relationships for life, they can’t marry because they can’t “commit to the natural procreation of children.”

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

Conservatives had been expecting his record to be an issue for them during the campaign, but were still caught off-guard last Friday when the Liberals began circulating a video of the speech.

While Scheer’s team tried to do damage control by issuing statements on his support for the law allowing same-sex unions, calls had not abated for Scheer to address the issue personally.

On Thursday, he said his speech was part of a now-closed chapter of Canadian history, and he accepts the law as it stands.

“My personal views are that LGBT Canadians have the same inherent self-worth and dignity as every other Canadian and I will always uphold the law and always ensure that they have equal access to the institution of marriage as it exists under the law,” he said.

Scheer said the Liberals were sending around the video because they are afraid to run on their own record.

“It’s just the Liberals who are pushing this, trying to distract from their record of failure, corruption and scandal, trying to dredge up issues from long ago in attempt to divide Canadians and distract from their own scandal,” he said.

The question of Scheer’s opposition to abortion, however, did not resurface at the hands of the Liberals. On that, it was Scheer’s own Quebec lieutenant sowing confusion, telling Conservative candidates in the province that backbench MPs would not be allowed to propose private member’s bills to restrict abortion access.

Richmond-Arthabaska MP Alain Rayes’ promise appeared to fly in the face of Conservative policy, which has been understood to allow MPs to bring forward private members’ bills on whatever subjects they like.

Scheer insisted Thursday there was no contradiction. He said MPs know they are allowed to hold their own beliefs, but that they must also all work together. While he did not explicitly rule out allowing private members’ bills, he suggested they would not be welcome.

“A Conservative government will not reopen this issue, and I as prime minister will oppose measures that reopen this issue.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for Scheer to be far firmer with his MPs. He pointed out that in the Liberal party, MPs are required to be unequivocally in favour of what Trudeau framed as “women’s rights.”

“Canada includes everyone and leaders need to defend everyone, particularly people who’ve been marginalized. It’s not enough to reluctantly support the law because it’s a law, especially when it comes to the rights of women and LGBTQ2 communities,” Trudeau said at an event in Surrey.

“People need to know that their prime minister will defend them, will be there for them, that’s what Canadians expect.”

Scheer said Trudeau’s desire to distance himself from his record was also behind the prime minister’s refusal so far to agree to take part in two scheduled federal election debates, and called on him to accept.

Trudeau said he is looking forward to the debates during the election, but declined to commit to either the Munk foreign-policy debate or one being hosted by Maclean’s magazine. He has confirmed he will be in two other debates sanctioned by the new federal debate commission and produced by a large consortium of media organizations.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

federal election 2019

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leah Davis, store manager at Oscar & Libby’s in downtown Victoria, sets out stock at their Fort Street location. The pandemic has changed the way this retailer and others do business, says owner Teri Hustins. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Pandemic alters holiday business strategies for Victoria merchants

Many independent merchants count on holiday shopping to get them through quiet periods

The old home at 785 Island Rd. is coming down as the developer was unable to find a feasible business case to save it. (Black Press Media File Photo)
With no takers to move old Oak Bay home, teardown begins

‘We tried a last hurrah,’ developer says

Goldstream Food Bank vice-president Walter Dubeau is happy to help others by volunteering at the food bank’s Christmas hamper program. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Goldstream Food Bank Christmas Hamper program in full swing

Gratitude evident as hamper helpers happily give back

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)
Winter blues a concern for Vancouver Islanders during COVID-19 Christmas season

Statistics show British Columbians anticipate worsening mental health

Jason Soukochoff is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, say Victoria police. (Courtesy VicPD)
Victoria police seek man with violent criminal history against elderly

Jason Soukochoff wanted on Canada-wide warrant for parole violations

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read