Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 8, 2018
Doug Ford raises abortion issue in effort to woo social conservatives: expert
One of the four candidates competing to lead Ontario’s Opposition raised questions about access to abortion this week, resurrecting a political hot potato while stopping short of promising to reopen debate on the issue.
Doug Ford’s statements that he would not personally revive the abortion debate but would allow those in his caucus to bring forward legislation on any matter important to them appears to be a “Hail Mary” move aimed at wooing the party’s socially conservative members as the leadership race comes to a close this weekend, a political analyst said.
“This is a top-down leader and for him, on this issue, to be signalling that, hey, it’s ok by him for any of his caucus members to be where they want to be on the map on this one tells me that this is a retail politics vote-getting move, pure and simple,” said Myer Siemiatycki, a professor of politics at Toronto’s Ryerson University.
“If he really believed it, he would say this is what he’s going to deliver, and the fact that he’s not prepared to say that says to me it’s about appealing to a base and portion of the (Progressive) Conservative party that nobody else has, on this issue, spoken to.”
In interviews with various media outlets this week, Ford suggested that as party leader he would welcome having members of his caucus table legislation that would require parental permission for abortions sought by minors.
He clarified his position Tuesday, saying that while he personally believes in “the sanctity of life,” he would follow in the footsteps of the federal Conservatives by not rekindling debate on the issue.
“That being said, I will allow MPPs to draft, bring forward, and debate any legislation that is important to them,” Ford said in a statement.
“The Liberals have set a dangerous and narrow-minded precedent both federally and provincially. I will never put members of my party in a position where they will have to compromise or deny their personal beliefs. I will never muzzle members of our caucus.”
While the right for patients to give or refuse consent is laid out in law, there are currently no provisions regarding parental notification, according to Ontario’s medical regulator. (Source: CTV News)