After endorsing the National March for Life that takes place in Ottawa in May and standing up as the lone vote against a private member’s bill establishing “Gender Equality Week,” Conservative leadership contender and MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-University) talked to The Interim about the race.
Trost said the National March for Life is important to both pro-life politicians and the pro-life movement because it signals that life issues still matter, therefore keeping abortion and euthanasia on the federal agenda. He also said he had no regrets in voting against C-309 because the bill was grandstanding by the federal Liberals and premised a fundamentally flawed preamble.
Then the conversation turned to the leadership race and what Trost would do if he wins.
He said a Trost government would scrap foreign abortion funding and focus instead on maternal health like Stephen Harper did in his Muskoka Initiative. Trost was instrumental in convincing the government to push an abortion-free maternal health program in 2010, which has been credited at the United Nations for improving maternal health outcomes in the developing world. Trost said that refusing to fund abortion groups should be the minimum that a fiscally and socially conservative government commits to doing. He accused the Trudeau government of “grandstanding” when it reacted quickly to Donald Trump’s announcement to cease funding non-government organizations that promote and carry out abortions by vowing to “fill the gap” left by the U.S. decision.
The Saskatoon MP also said if he formed government he would end sex-selective abortion and protect unborn victims of violence. He said both policies are part of the Conservative Party’s policy book and therefore shouldn’t have any problems getting the support of caucus.
Demonstrating that he has thought deeply about policy and principles, Trost said he would direct his health minister to promote a culture of life in his or her mandate letter outlining expectations for the minister. He offered as an example a public education campaign highlighting the value of those with Down syndrome. “We can change hearts and minds,” he said, “with the power of the purse and the bully pulpit.” While highlighting the dignity of those with Down syndrome would be the first educational campaign, he vowed there would be others, possibly including one discouraging euthanasia.
Trost wants to overturn same-sex marriage, but admits he does not know how to do that with the current Supreme Court decision in place. In the meantime, he said that the federal government must protect conscience rights so, among other reasons it being the right thing to do, that opposition to SSM can remain alive.
Trost also reiterated his vow to scrap C-16, “An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code,” to add gender identity and gender expression (transgender) to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. He said that one “doesn’t have to be a social conservative to oppose the egregious free speech infringements” in the law. He said “there is no basis in logic” and “no need” for the bill, because “there are other ways to deal with individuals who identify as transgender” without using “heavy-handed government solutions.”
Trost said he is happy with the campaign so far and sees a path to victory, but admits one of the great challenges is convincing Conservative Party members he can win. “I can bring the party together,” he said because “I’m the 100 per cent pure conservative” and “I can work with everyone.” He also said he can be elected prime minister because he will bring back the voters the party lost in 2015 after the Harper government seemingly lost its way. He maintains that his social conservative values will attract visible minority, Atlantic Canadian, and youth votes. “They can trust me on the issues,” he said.
He said he has walked the walk and talked the talk when it comes to social issues and that he thinks he has earned the support of every Canadian pro-life and pro-family voter. He said he understands that people have other preferences and acknowledges former MP Pierre Lemieux is another pro-lifer in the race. Trost said if he can’t be a Conservative member’s first choice, to mark him second on the ranked ballot, which will be mailed to members in early May. He said while most pundits and the polls dismiss his campaign, he is selling memberships and expects to finish strongly.
The deadline for purchasing a Conservative Party membership to be eligible for the vote is March 27.The Interim