Tory hope­fuls square off

Fo­rum spends sig­nif­i­cant time fo­cus­ing on abor­tion and as­sisted dy­ing rights

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - COLLIN GAL­LANT cgal­lant@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: CollinGal­lant

The six men seek­ing the fed­eral Conservative nom­i­na­tion agree in de­grees on a num­ber of things, in­clud­ing low taxes, pipe­line devel­op­ment, and that as MP they would ex­plore in­cre­men­tal re­stric­tions on abor­tion as a path­way to even­tu­ally elim­i­nat­ing the prac­tice.

The is­sue arose at Wed­nes­day’s all nom­i­nee fo­rum at the Medicine Hat Public Li­brary to open a sec­ond half that fea­tured ques­tions from a packed-house audience se­lected by the party nom­i­na­tion com­mit­tee.

Nom­i­nee Joseph Schow an­swered first say­ing that safe-quards are needed to pro­tect doc­tors and pa­tients un­der leg­is­la­tion pro­posed by the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

“Our party is about con­scious rights,” said Schow, who re­cently worked as a party staffer on Par­lia­ment Hill.

“On abor­tion we’re never go­ing to see a black and white, yes or no ques­tion.

My job as your MP is to fight for in­cre­men­tal changes, such as (re­stric­tions on) sex se­lec­tive abor­tions, then on late-term abor­tions. “It’s called a foot-in-the-door tactic.” The win­ner of a party vote later this month will rep­re­sent the party in a yet-to-be sched­uled by­elec­tion to fill the va­cant seat for Medicine Hat-Card­ston-Warner. Wed­nes­day’s fo­rum was the sec­ond of two this week, and the last be­fore party can­di­dates vote later this month. Can­di­dates were asked a se­ries of ques­tions that touched on low petroleum prices, demo­cratic re­form pro­pos­als, and how they would work to rep­re­sent all ar­eas of the vast riding.

The audience showed most in­ter­est in the ques­tion about in­di­vid­ual stances on abor­tion and eu­thana­sia leg­is­la­tion how­ever, and the can­di­dates spoke with the most pas­sion.

It’s also an is­sue that some po­lit­i­cal ob­servers have said the party should shy away from as the con­tro­ver­sial topic could turn off more mod­er­ate vot­ers.

Glen Motz, con­sid­ered the leader among party vot­ers in Medicine Hat, said on abor­tion “I’m pro-life, there’s no ques­tion.

“Un­for­tu­nately it’s the law of the land in this coun­try,” he said. “(As MP) I will con­tinue to fight that the rights of the un­born are not eroded fur­ther. I be­lieve in the sanc­tity of life.”

Paul Hin­man, a two-term MLA, who said his sup­port for ref­er­en­dums ex­tends to large so­cial is­sues, and that par­lia­ment needs to hear di­rectly from cit­i­zens.

“The sanc­tity of life is paramount,” he said, adding that the first step should be to limit fund­ing for the pro­ce­dure that he said was used as a means of birth con­trol.

Michael Jones, a lawyer who lives in Ray­mond, agreed with Schow that an in­cre­men­tal game­plan “had worked in the United States” and that it should not be paid for out of health bud­gets.

“It’s not up to you and me to fund abor­tions with our tax dol­lars,” he said. “That’s fun­da­men­tally dis­turb­ing to me as a hu­man be­ing.”

Greg Ranger, a Ray­mond-based businessman, said his po­si­tion echoed the oth­ers.

Medicine Hat businessman Brian Benoit said there is “no gray area” about his pro-life stance on abor­tion, but as­sisted dy­ing is a dif­fi­cult is­sue bet­ter left up to an in­di­vid­ual, their fam­ily and their clergy, not gov­ern­ment.

“I don’t think it’s some­thing that needs to be de­cided by your mem­ber of par­lia­ment,” he said.

The evening opened with a mo­ment of si­lence to hon­our the mem­ory of former MP Jim Hil­lyer, who died sud­denly in March.

Can­di­dates agreed they would strive to con­tinue the work of the re­cent Conservative gov­ern­ment to keep taxes low, ex­pand trade and re­strict gov­ern­ment’s role.

In his clos­ing re­marks, Hin­man, a former Wil­drose MLA, said he had ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting re­sults in gov­ern­ment and was will­ing to stand up for his con­vic­tions.

“It’s a crit­i­cal time in our his­tory,” he said. “We can’t have a (Lib­eral) gov­ern­ment that re­stricts our way for­ward.”

Motz, a re­tired po­lice in­spec­tor, said he is dedicated to serv­ing the riding and would con­tinue to do so.

“I have a proven record that is decades long of get­ting in­volved in is­sues un­til they’re re­solved,” said Motz.

Benoit said his busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence would help bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the re­gion and help build con­sen­sus with mem­bers of other par­ties “I’m a negotiator.” Jones said the party should build on the work of Ralph Klein, Pre­ston Man­ning and Stephen Harper.

“These men changed a prov­ince and na­tion, al­low­ing peo­ple to build their busi­nesses and their fam­i­lies their way,” he said, adding the party should spread “a pos­i­tive conservative vi­sion of this coun­try.”

Schow told the audience his ex­pe­ri­ence in Ot­tawa, means he can be ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately if elected.

Joseph Schow

Gre­gory Ranger

Brian Benoit

Paul Hin­man

Glen Motz

Michael Jones

NEWS PHOTO COLLIN GAL­LANT

Moder­a­tor Kris Sam­raj, left, ad­dresses six nom­i­nees vy­ing to the can­di­date for the Conservative Party of Canada in an up­com­ing by­elec­tion. The fo­rum, held Wed­nes­day night at the Medicine Hat Public Li­brary, brought in a ca­pac­ity crowd. Vot­ing for party mem­bers be­gins on June 23 and ends on June 25 in Medicine Hat.

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