By: Kelly Grounds, Peak Associate
The October 21 federal election is fast approaching and the party campaigns are heating up. The Liberals have taken aim at the Conservatives by pulling up old videos of party leader Andrew Scheer. These videos of Scheer include homophobic comments about same-sex marriage in 2005, and a conversation that he had with anti-abortion activists in 2017. Scheer responded by saying that if elected, his party would not reopen the issues for debate and accused the Liberals of “dredging up divisive issues.”
While it is possible for people to change their political views, it is not actually clear that Scheer has genuinely adopted a more progressive view of these two fundamental and controversial rights for Canadians. With abortion rights being pulled back from our neighbours to the south, it is even more important to know exactly where all of our potential leaders stand on this issue — lest we lose the ground we’ve gained as well.
The problem arises when Scheer is asked about his stance: he either avoids the question or further confuses the public. Though he has said that he will protect the rights of all Canadians, he has also stated that his MPs would be able to table bills according to their beliefs. This raises the question of whether or not one of these bills could, in theory, be focused on restructing or revoking the rights of Canadians to marry whom they choose or obtain an abortion.
Overall, it appears that Scheer is not actively trying to challenge the laws on abortion and same-sex marrigae laws. Instead, he appears to be focused on ensuring that all of his MPs have the opportunity to freely voice their opinions and put forward bills based on their values. The issue here is that should an MP put forward a law to reverse or curtail these rights, we do not know how Scheer would react. Would he choose to protect the established laws for LGBTQ2+ and women’s rights, or would he allow his MPs to play partisan politics to undermine them?
The Liberals and Conservatives entered September nearly tied in the polls. With voter opinion this close, it could be anyone’s election. Scheer clearly stating his views on abortion and same-sex marriage could give his party the boost it needs to pull ahead; until he does, however, he will be leaving many Canadians wondering in October if their rights would be secure with him in charge.