People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier said he would “reopen” the abortion debate in Canada if elected in an upcoming federal by-election in Portage Lisgar during a media conference in the city of Winkler on Wednesday. Dave Baxter/Winnipeg Sun/Local Journalism Initiative Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Just days after announcing he would run for a federal seat in a rural Manitoba riding, Maxime Bernier said one of the first things he will do if elected to Parliament is “reopen the debate” on abortion laws in Canada to ban abortions for pregnancies beyond 24 weeks.

“Regulating abortion is not a fringe or radical position, even though it as portrayed as such by pro-abortion fanatics,” People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier claimed during a Wednesday media conference in the city of Winkler.

“We’re not afraid. The PPC welcomes a debate on abortion.”

Bernier has announced he will run in an upcoming by-election in the rural Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar, looking to take over a seat now up for grabs, after former Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen stepped down as a Member of Parliament back in February.

Bernier told reporters on Wednesday that making changes to current abortion laws in Canada would be one of his top priorities if elected.

“Whatever your position on abortion, the most important thing now is to break the taboo surrounding the issue,” Bernier said.

“We need to force the cowardly establishment in Ottawa to debate it.”

According to Bernier, if elected he will table “at the first availability” the Protection of Preborn Children Act, that he said would “limit the legal availability of abortion to 24 weeks maximum” in Canada.

He even went so far as to call abortions beyond that point “abhorrent” and compared some late-term abortions to “infanticide.”

“I cannot imagine how any decent human being could be opposed to this,” Bernier said. “Even reasonable people who describe themselves as pro-choice should support this bill.”

Bernier said he believes that some of his supporters would like to see even stricter laws regarding abortion than what he is proposing, but he said the bill would be a way to “reopen the debate” on abortion.

“We need to start somewhere,” he said. “And from a position that is so strong that our opponents won’t be able to reject or attack it without looking like depraved individuals with no moral conscience.”

According to Bernier, the bill would allow for abortions in some individual cases after 24 weeks, including in instances where the mother’s life is in danger, or the baby has a lethal abnormality or no brain function, as well as in cases of rape.

The bill Bernier is now proposing was authored by Paul Mitchell and Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, who both ran as PPC candidates in the 2019 federal election, but did not win their respective races in that election.

Bernier previously held several roles in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, including leading the industry and foreign affairs ministries, but he quit the Conservative party in 2018 after losing its 2017 leadership contest to Andrew Scheer.

After forming his own party, Bernier ran in his former seat of Beauce, Que., in the 2019 and 2021 elections, losing both times to a Conservative candidate.

A by-election for Portage-Lisgar will be held June 19.

Bernier fires back after being labelled a ‘fake conservative’

A war of words has broken out in southern Manitoba after a local Member of Parliament referred to Maxime Bernier as a “fake conservative,” and said he believes Bernier’s run for a federal seat in a rural Manitoba riding is nothing more than a “vanity project.”

In a Twitter post on March 12, James Bezan, a long-time Conservative MP who represents the Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman riding in Manitoba took a swipe at Bernier, the current People’s Party of Canada leader, after Bernier announced his intentions to run as a candidate in an upcoming by-election in the federal riding of Portage-Lisgar in rural Manitoba.

Bezan said in his post, he took issue with Bernier referring to some members of the current Conservative party as “fake conservatives,” when announcing that he would be running for the seat.

“The only fake Conservative in this race is Maxime Bernier!” Bezan wrote in the Twitter post.

“I served with Max and he’s only in it for himself! Every time he has been to Manitoba it’s to ask for your money, and to waste your votes on his vanity projects.

“MB needs a real MB Conservative, not Max!”

During a Wednesday media conference in Winkler, the PPC leader fired back at Bezan, and at others who would label him as a “fake conservative.”

“Just look at everything I have said over the last five years since we created the People’s Party of Canada,” Bernier said. “Is it being a fake conservative to call for a balanced budget? Is it being a fake conservative to say that there should be no climate hysteria and we mustn’t impose restrictions or taxes on businesses? Is it being a fake conservative to fight for life?

“And I will ask him back, where was he during all this time? He has been elected for a long time, and he did not have the courage to be a real conservative.”

Bernier also said he believes that politicians and current members of the Conservative party who attack him are doing so because they are “afraid” of what he said the PPC stand for.

“I like when they are attacking me because it shows that they are afraid of us,” Bernier said. “They are afraid of the common sense and I am not.”

Bernier previously held several roles in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, including leading the industry and foreign affairs ministries, but he quit the Conservative party in 2018, after losing its 2017 leadership contest to Andrew Scheer.

After forming his own party, Bernier ran in his former seat of Beauce, Que., in the 2019 and 2021 elections, losing both times to a Conservative candidate.

The federal by-election in Portage-Lisgar is scheduled for June 19.

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 17, 2023 at 14:59

This item reprinted with permission from    The Sun    Winnipeg, Manitoba
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