I know these things. But when Dr Henry Morgentaler, the Canadian abortion-rights pioneer, speaks, I tune in.
Henry Morgentaler, the father of Canada's pro-choice movement, says Stephen Harper's Conservatives can't be trusted on the abortion issue because the party is "chock full" of top-ranking members with virulent anti-abortion views.
Dr. Morgentaler, who has stood at the forefront of the battle for abortion rights for four decades, urged Canadians to be skeptical of Mr. Harper's promise to stay clear of legislation on the contentious issue. Dr. Morgentaler called the pledge a "tactical manoeuvre" and predicted the Conservative Leader would face intense pressure from his party to reopen the abortion debate.
"I don't trust the Conservative Party and I don't think women in Canada and people who love women in this country should trust the Conservative Party as far as abortion rights are concerned," he told reporters yesterday.
Dr. Morgentaler was in Montreal for the start of a $15-million class-action suit against the Quebec government on behalf of women forced to pay abortion fees in private clinics. He had no hesitation shifting from the court case to the election campaign, and called on all parties to commit to protecting women's access to abortion.
But with a Conservative victory looming, he singled out the views of Tory MPs such as Stockwell Day, who was promoted as a speaker at an anti-abortion conference in Montreal in November. While Mr. Day has been open about his beliefs, Dr. Morgentaler maintained that 90 per cent of the party's "upper echelons" hold similar ideological views, and a private member's bill would eventually make its way to the House of Commons.
"The front rank of the Conservative Party is chock full of people who are violently opposed to the rights of abortion, like Stockwell Day and similar guys, who will put pressure on Mr. Harper to reopen the issue," he said.