McGuinty tries to pressure Hudak over abortion
OAKVILLE, Ont. - Premier Dalton McGuinty is urging all his political rivals -- including Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak -- to come clean about their stances on abortion ahead of the fall election.
Voters are looking for clarity on the issue, the Liberal premier said Tuesday after visiting an Oakville, Ont., plant that makes landing gear for planes.
"I've been very clear on this throughout my period of leadership of my party and in government: I believe in and support a woman's right to choose," said McGuinty, who is Roman Catholic.
"I think as aspiring premiers, all the party leaders owe clarity to voters when it comes to that issue in particular."
McGuinty's prodding came a day after Hudak refused to say if he still opposes abortion, walking away from reporters when asked repeatedly if he still considers himself pro-life.
"I'll leave it to voters to draw their own conclusions from that," McGuinty said. "I'm thinking they're looking for some clarity on a very important issue."
Hudak was not available for comment Tuesday. But his staff said the Tory Leader been clear that he doesn't plan to re-open the issue if he wins the Oct. 6 vote.
When he was running for the PC leadership in 2009, Hudak's representatives told the Association for Reformed Political Action he is pro-life and had signed a petition calling for the defunding of abortions and to support doctors who don't want to perform the procedures.
"I may have signed a petition from my riding in that respect, but listen, let me be clear: we are not reopening this debate," Hudak said Monday. "Just like the federal Parliament, we would not be reopening that issue."
Hudak appears to be taking a page from the playbook of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has repeatedly promised not to re-open the abortion debate despite the pro-life views that some members of his caucus hold.
The Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group, said Hudak was "solidly" opposed to abortion when he first ran for provincial office in 1995, but since then has not responded to any of their questionnaires "nor done anything related to life and family issues."
But the New Democrats say Hudak isn't the only one who needs to clarify where he stands on abortion.
McGuinty should also come clean about his party's stance on the thorny issue, given that a number of elected Liberals have vocally opposed abortion and public funding of the procedure, said NDP critic Cheri DiNovo.
"Clearly with his unpopularity in the polls, he's grasping at anything here to make Hudak out to be some Neanderthal," she said.
"Isn't it interesting: you have two men here calling each other out around the issue of freedom of choice and none of them offering any clarity on it."
The NDP unanimously support a woman's right to choose. But there are much more pressing issues at stake in the fall election, she said.
"Nobody's going to be running on this issue in the next election," DiNovo said. "This is not top-of-the-mind issue."