It’s stuff like that about the media that drives me crazy. Why do they need to mention, twice, that he’s pro-choice? Because otherwise we’ll think he’s weird?
OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is pro-choice but says family planning programs — which include abortion in some countries — will be excluded from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s G8 initiative on maternal and child health care.
He was grilled at the House of Commons foreign affairs committee Tuesday where New Democratic Party MP John Rafferty said an important and cost-effective element of maternal health care is access to contraception and other family planning services.
Cannon said the G8 initiative “does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning.”
Cannon declined to answer when Rafferty asked whether he would ensure that funds are “secure” for the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
The IPPF has received millions of dollars annually from the Conservative government and its predecessor Liberal governments since the mid-1980s. But backbench Conservative Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt) has petitioned against the funds, supplied through the Canadian International Development Agency, on grounds the federation helps provide access to abortions.
Cannon said the MP should ask International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda. Oda and her officials have refused to state whether the government will renew an $18-million, three-year contract to the IPPF that expired at the end of 2009.
After the committee hearing, Cannon appeared to try to separate his own opinion from government policy on the G8 initiative, in which Harper seeks to harness funds and resources from G8 countries and non-government organizations to reduce millions of preventable maternal and child deaths in the developing world. This is identified by the government as Canada’s “signature initiative” for the G8 leaders’ summit Harper is hosting in Muskoka, north of Orillia, Ont., in late June.
“The point here is our political party is a political party that offers, on all of these social issues, offers members to be able to express their opinion,” Cannon said.
“I do believe that on a number of these social issues we’ve had the opportunity of making our positions known in the House. Everybody knows what my position is but from a government position, this policy, this announcement by the prime minister has nothing to do with what you’re raising.”
Cannon’s aide later said that the well-known position he was referring to is his pro-choice position on abortion.