Green Party won’t ban members from trying to reopen abortion debate, says May

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Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says elected members of her party won’t be prevented from trying to reopen the debate on abortion in the next Parliament, despite her own stated belief that “a woman has a right to a safe, legal abortion.”

“I could talk to them. I could try to dissuade them. I could say it would be unfortunate … but I don’t have the power as leader of the Green Party to whip votes, nor do I have the power to silence an MP,” May said in an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“And frankly, I think that’s a good thing because democracy will be healthier when constituents know that their MP works for them and not their party leader,” May told host Vassy Kapelos.

Green Party policy aside, May was candid about her own beliefs regarding abortion.

“A woman has a right to a safe, legal abortion. I’ve never wavered in that position since I was, like, eight years old and realized what was going on when I heard my mother arguing with people about the issue,” said May.

The policy of the Greens — who currently sit fourth in the polls — stands in stark contrast to those of the NDP and the Liberals.

In 2014, Liberal Justin Trudeau barred any new members of his caucus from supporting any restrictions on abortion access.

NDP spokesperson Melanie Richer said a candidate must be pro-choice in order to run for the party. “There’s no room in the NDP caucus for those who don’t support a woman’s right to choose,” she said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said a Conservative government led by him would not reopen the debate on abortion, but it remains unclear whether he would allow a Conservative MP to table a private member’s bill on the issue.

Scheer said backbench Conservative MPs are free to follow their consciences but he would “oppose measures to reopen” the abortion debate and is “confident” the caucus “understands that.”

May’s personal hero

May is a practising Anglican and studied to become an Anglican priest before entering politics full-time.

When asked who her personal hero is, May said: “Jesus Christ. I’m sorry. That’s my answer.”

When asked why she apologized, May told host Kapelos that “politicians in Canada should not put their religion on their sleeve.

“And I gave you my quick, honest answer. I didn’t self-edit.

“We are an inclusive and all embracing society. Within the Green Party, we have candidates from every faith and religion and a lot who don’t believe there is a God and wonder why anyone would be so foolish as to think so. And everyone is respected and welcome.”

Catch the full Power & Politics interview with Elizabeth May at 5:00 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.

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