Liberal MP John McKay

Pro-life Liberal McKay has dilemma on hand with Trudeau pro-choice stance

  • May 11, 2014

Toronto pro-life Liberal MP John McKay says he’s no less a Liberal for his stand against open-access, unregulated abortion.

After party leader Justin Trudeau declared no future candidates will be approved unless they accept the party’s pro-choice position, the Scarborough-Guildwood MP was left wondering why traditional Liberal openness on the question had to be dumped.

“The party did take a position in Ottawa in 2012 and it was a pro-choice position. I suppose he (Trudeau) is reflecting that. And it does line up with his own personal views. In that respect, he’s making a clear position,” said McKay.

In 2011 Trudeau took the more ambiguous position that he personally had moral objections to abortion but did not believe it was an area for legislation.

“I said I don’t like abortion. Does anyone who’s pro-choice, as I am, really like abortion?” Trudeau tweeted in November, 2011.

“To my mind ambiguity is the position to take,” said McKay. “We all live with contradictions within our own lives. It’s only the fundamentalists on both sides of the issue who drive us all crazy. Because the fundamentalists on both sides are so strident then there is no mature dialogue about the issue itself.”

With both the NDP and Liberals now enforcing official party stands against regulating abortion and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper declaring he has no interest in reopening the abortion debate and voting against abortion-related private members motions, there’s little prospect of serious movement or debate on the issue, McKay said.

“The politicians largely just duck,” he said.

A history of single-issue anti-abortion candidates campaigning hard for Liberal nominations despite little or no history with the party pushed the Grits into drawing a line in the sand, said McKay.

“The party was embarrassed, if you will,” he said. “Spent a lot of political capital on these kinds of events. It’s also a little strange that the party isn’t also taking a firm position on ethnic politics, say.”

McKay doesn’t want to be the last Liberal to stand against unregulated abortion.

“This is not a position that I find myself seeking,” he told The Catholic Register. "I’ve spent 16, 17 years as an MP (first elected in 1997). I’ve gone through six elections. In each and every one of those elections my constituents have known what my position has been. As far as I know, people of the pro-choice variety, probably the majority in my constituency, still vote for me even though they think that maybe my ideas are a little looney. For whatever reason, they see me as a good MP and a good representative of their views.”

Ideally, politicians should lead on difficult and contentious issues, according to McKay.

“The conversation never actually gets on to the floor of the House. Parliament, which is supposed to be the great debating chamber of our society, is silent.”

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