12 May 2014, The Tablet

Canada’s Liberal Party says pro-life candidates need not apply

The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, who is a Catholic, has sparked a firestorm of criticism by declaring that all new candidates hoping to win a seat in Ottawa’s House of Commons in next year’s federal election must support the party’s pro-choice stance.

Justin Trudeau said last week that all new candidates must also abide by the party’s position of “refusing to re-open the debate on abortion”.

Trudeau described the new rule as part of a screening process that includes questions on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“We make sure that the people who are stepping forward are consistent with the Liberal Party as it is now, as it stands under my leadership and under the feedback we're getting from Canadians across the country."

The new rules do not apply to sitting pro-life members who are seeking re-election. One of the small number of Liberal MPs who are openly pro-life, John McKay, said of the new rules “I would prefer to have a situation where the party was of a more pluralistic view, but the party's made that choice and the leader reflects that choice."

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton reacted to the announcement with anger. “Here we have a man who would like to be Prime Minister some day, dictating to party members that they must vote against fundamental human rights,” he said.

Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, took over as leader of the Liberals a year ago in the wake of Michael Ignatieff’s defeat in 2011 elections.

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