The Liberal Party has moved from attacking Conservatives on gay “marriage” to a full-out attack on pro-life issues.  In a platform speech in Toronto during the election campaign, former Prime Minister Paul Martin accused Conservative leader Stephen Harper of planning to take away women’s abortion “rights.”

“Members of Mr. Harper’s party have promised right-wing Conservative groups that if they are elected, they will ensure parliamentary votes on a woman’s right to choose, on same-sex ‘marriage’ and on other social issues,” he said.

Martin, who professes himself to be “a very strong Roman Catholic,” went further than ever before in pushing abortion.  On Jan. 12, he appeared on CBC’s The National to field questions from Canadian voters. He was questioned about his plan to remove the notwithstanding clause from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In answer, Martin launched into a nearly three-minute-long diatribe on how a Conservative victory would lead to laws protecting human life from conception.  However, he framed the remarks so as to paint such an outcome as the worst possible event that could happen in Canada – a trampling of minority rights by a majority. The rights of children yet in the womb were totally ignored, as were the rights of women not to continue to be pressured to accept abortion as their only alternative. Nor was women’s right to give fully informed consent addressed.

During his remarks, Martin mentioned “a woman’s right to choose” eight times, but did not use use the phrase “right to life” or even the term “abortion” once.  Moreover he interpreted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to grant a right to abortion, something it does not do.

What follows is a transcript of questions and the full responses by the Liberal leader:

Q. Are you concerned that by heightening this, heightening the (Supreme) Court’s authority, that you will be infringing on the right of parliamentary supremacy?

A. Well, ah, absolutely and and that’s the whole point. Ah, I think in terms of our Charter rights, ah, I do not believe, ah, that in fact the majority should have the right to take away the rights of the minority. That is the purpose of the Charter. We are a nation of minorities, ah and Parliament, by the way, is usually elected by a minority. I mean, ah, one of the elections in 1997, we, the government, won with 37 per cent of the vote. So the fundamental issue, the fundamental issue is: who is going to protect, who is going to protect your rights?

Let, let me just, let me give you ah, an example that I, that I have discussed and forgive me for taking the time, but I really think it’s an important question. There are a number of Conservatives, quite a large number of Conservative members of Parliament, who have said that they would take away a woman’s right to choose and in fact, some of them are among the leaders. -Stockwell Day and people who would be in cabinet.

The president of the Conservative Party has said, ah, that he has a roadmap to achieve that. There would be a private member’s bill brought into Parliament. Now that private member’s bill would not pass today. But, if there were a majority of Conservative members, then that bill might well pass. So let’s assume, and now this is a debate we all thought was over.

So let’s assume that for the sake of discussion, Parliament passed a law under a Conservative government taking away a woman’s right to choose. Then, it wouldn’t take that long, it would go to the Senate. Over a period of time, it would pass the Senate. Now, what would happen is that all of a sudden, that would be the law of the land and so a woman’s right to choose would have been taken away and then it would be tested in the courts, there’d be an appeal under the Charter and all through that time, it might go either way, but the woman’s right to choose would be in huge doubt, if not against the law.

Then, the Supreme Court of Canada would decide. Now, let’s assume that the Supreme Court of Canada decided and they said, “That’s a Charter right. You can’t take away a woman’s right to choose.” Then what happens is, then Parliament, it would go back to Parliament and Parliament would have a decision on the notwithstanding clause and since the original bill passed, Parliament would vote the notwithstanding clause and suddenly the woman’s, a woman’s right to choose, would have disappeared.

My view is that minority rights, Charter rights, should not be taken away by the majority and that applies ah, in, in and that applies in a wide range of cases. I can’t believe that a woman’s right to choose actually being put in doubt, but the fact is that that roadmap is out there and it is an issue. And, and I believe that the only way which you protect it from ever becoming a, an issue is you essentially say Parliament, governments, are not to be able to overrule the Supreme Court and take away your Charter rights.

This story originally appeared Jan. 16 at