Canadian PM to raise 'concerns' on abortion during Pence visit

shutterstock 441310945 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reviews the highlights of his Liberal government's first parliamentary session, Ottawa, 2016. | Art Babych / Shutterstock

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he intends to raise the subject of American abortion policy with Vice President Mike Pence during meetings in Ottawa.

Pence arrived in the Canadian capital Thursday to discuss the ongoing negotiations for a tri-lateral trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Trudeau said he is "very concerned with the situation around the backsliding of women's rights that we're seeing from conservative movements here in Canada, in the United States and around the world. I will have a broad conversation with the Vice President in which of course that will come up."

Pence has a long and vocal history of supporting pro-life legislation and executive policy. He has frequently insisted that abortion is a significant policy priority for the current administration.  

In 2014, Justin Trudeau made it a requirement that all candidates from his party, the Liberal Party, vocally support abortion rights.

Last summer, Trudeau introduced a new requirement that excluded any organization with pro-life views from receiving government funding for a summer jobs program--even if the organization did no actual pro-life work. That measure was scrapped after considerable public opposition.

Speaking to CNA earlier in the month, Member of Parliament Rachel Harder said that "Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau has made it really clear that his way of thinking is perceived to be the right way."

"If MPs don't fit within his framework of values, then he has no use for them and no appreciation and really, him and his caucus show little to no respect of them," Harder said.

Since abortion began in Canada fifty years ago, approximately six million Canadians have died by abortion, and an estimated 300 unborn babies are killed each day.

Abortion was illegal in Canada until the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1968-1969, which allowed for abortion under limited circumstances after approval from a "Therapeutic Abortion Committee." Pierre Trudeau is the father of the current prime minister.

In 1988, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in the decision R v Morgentaler that the Therapeutic Abortion Committee requirement was unconstitutional, and ordered Parliament to write a law regarding abortion. Despite that ruling, no law has been passed and abortion is freely available without restrictions under Canada's national healthcare system.

On the occasion of Canada's March for Life earlier this month, Conservative Member of Parliament David Anderson told CAN that the legal situation was not widely appreciated by voters.

"When you tell Canadians that there actually is no abortion law in Canada, their initial response is they actually don't believe that," Anderson said, noting that unrestricted access to abortion had come about "by default."

Trudeau's premiership is currently mired in domestic scandal after a former justice minister said she had been pressured to settle out of court the prosecution a Canadian construction company.

Trudeau has denied allegations that his government applied pressure on behalf of the firm, which holds several important government contracts. The affair triggered several high-profile resignations, including by a top aid to the Prime Minister and by the Treasury Board president.

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