Hamil­ton bishop lashes Lib­er­als over abor­tion pol­icy

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MIKE BLANCH­FIELD OT­TAWA —

Catholic lead­ers are crit­i­ciz­ing the Trudeau gov­ern­ment for al­low­ing “po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy” to dic­tate its ad­vo­cacy of abor­tion rights in its new fem­i­nist in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment pol­icy.

The Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops is also ques­tion­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for spend­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions more on the is­sue than on famine in Africa, and the em­pha­sis on fam­ily plan­ning that came when In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Marie-Claude Bibeau un­veiled Canada’s re­tooled for­eign aid pol­icy.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau told Bibeau in her man­date let­ter that the con­tin­ued pol­icy should be “driven by ev­i­dence and out­comes, not ide­ol­ogy, in­clud­ing by clos­ing ex­ist­ing gaps in re­pro­duc­tive rights and health care for women.”

How­ever, in a let­ter to For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Freeland in re­sponse to her June 6 for­eign pol­icy speech, Bishop Dou­glas Crosby said the Lib­eral pol­icy is also ide­o­log­i­cally based.

“In these un­cer­tain times, when Canada’s voice and lead­er­ship do mat­ter on ev­ery­thing from cli­mate change to global peace, po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy can­not be al­lowed to dic­tate for­eign pol­icy and to over­ride com­mon sense and our hu­man­i­tar­ian re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to those in need,” Crosby, the pres­i­dent of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, wrote.

Crosby, Bishop of the Dio­cese of Hamil­ton, ques­tioned Trudeau’s an­nounce­ment ear­lier this year to ear­mark $650 mil­lion to­ward abor­tion and sex­ual re­pro­duc­tive rights when the gov­ern­ment has spent $119.25 mil­lion to­ward famine re­lief in South Su­dan, Ye­men, north­east Nige­ria and So­ma­lia. With 20 mil­lion peo­ple at risk of star­va­tion, the United Na­tions has called it the largest hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis since the Sec­ond World War.

“Should this un­fold­ing dis­as­ter not have prompted the prime min­is­ter to pri­or­i­tize re­lief and aid over pol­i­tick­ing at the lav­ish ex­pense of hard­work­ing tax­pay­ers in Canada?”

Crosby said that with so many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and re­li­gions, there is no con­sen­sus in Canada over abor­tion, and to state that “there is uni­ver­sal agree­ment on a sin­gle set of Cana­dian val­ues it­self is con­trived.”

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland, re­it­er­ated the min­is­ter’s un­equiv­o­cal stance on the is­sue laid out in her speech last month, say­ing “women’s rights are hu­man rights.”

“This in­cludes the sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health and rights of women and girls, and the right to safe and le­gal abor­tion,” he said.

“The em­pow­er­ment of women and girls ev­ery­where in the world be­gins with their right to be in con­trol of their bod­ies.”

The bish­ops had also writ­ten to Bibeau in March to raise con­cerns about the gov­ern­ment’s plans to fund sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health.

“Safe, re­li­able and high qual­ity fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices, when used ef­fec­tively, should re­duce the re­course to abor­tion, de­crease the num­ber of un­planned preg­nan­cies and im­prove the health and rights of women,” Bibeau’s re­ply stated.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Catholic bish­ops are crit­i­ciz­ing the Lib­er­als for al­low­ing "po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy" to dic­tate ad­vo­cacy of abor­tion rights in its new de­vel­op­ment pol­icy.

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