In the final days of the federal election campaign, defeated Carleton-Gloucester candidate Maureen McTeer found her abortion views criticized on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen by an Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa.
Ms. McTeer had written earlier that she had discussed her directorship of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL), with “her Bishop” and was advised that her position was “acceptable and within the norms of Catholic teaching.” Ottawa Auxiliary Bishop Gilles Belisle took exception to McTeer’s statement, pointing out that the Bishop in question, the now-deceased Bishop of Hull, Adolphe Proulx, was in no position to respond to her claims, Bishop Belisle reiterated the position of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion as “an evil abhorred now as ever before.”
However several hours later Ms. McTeer’s office issued a press ‘statement’ in which Bishop Belisle apologized and stated that Ms. McTeer’s “letter to her constituents setting out her position on abortion is clearly within the norms of Catholic teachings.” Neither the letter to constituents, nor the ‘statement’ (written by McTeer campaign workers for Belisle to sign) mentioned her involvement with CARAL.
Campaign Life Coalition then issued a press release clarifying Ms. McTeer’s involvement with CARAL, including statements by Ms. McTeer indicating her support for the right of women to choose abortion and the need for abortion clinics. The press statement was also sent to each Roman Catholic priest in the Ottawa diocese, and was widely circulated by concerned pro-lifers in parishes in the Carleton-Gloucester riding.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Ottawa says that if it is felt that there is confusion in the minds of Ottawa Catholics as a result of the incident, a clarifying statement will be printed in the Diocesan newspaper.