ISHMAEL N. DARO
Conservative Brad Trost claims he and other pro-life MPs have successfully defunded the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
The MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt — the riding that contains the University of Saskatchewan campus — addressed the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association’s annual convention on Saturday and thanked its members for their help in stopping federal funding for the group.
The IPPF provides sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, to people in developing countries and has been a target of Trost’s before. In late 2009, Trost circulated a petition calling for the federal government to stop funding for the IPPF, prompting a counter-petition from the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union in support of the organization.
The issue seemed to disappear, but his remarks on Saturday brought the issue of abortion back up, right in the middle of the federal election campaign.
“Let me tell you, and I cannot tell you specifically how we used it but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood,” Trost is heard saying in a recording released to media by the Liberal Party.
He continues to say that “it has been an absolute disgrace that this organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars.”
[audio:http://thesheaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/BradTrost.mp3|titles=Brad Trost remarks to pro-life group]Brad Trost remarks to pro-life group (mp3)
The only problem is that no formal decision has yet been made to stop funding the IPPF. The organization had made a funding request for $18 million over a year ago and has been left waiting. And although the Conservative campaign was quick to distance itself from Trost’s comments, they did not confirm or deny his claim that the IPPF had lost its funding.
“He’s a backbench MP who, without question, isn’t aware of the way that our program works,” Dimitri Soudas, the prime minister’s spokesperson, told reporters in St. John’s at a hastily called news conference.
Trost’s rivals in Saskatoon-Humboldt condemned the Conservative’s comments.
“This is an important revelation about Trost,” said NDP candidate Denise Kouri in a statement. “I think voters must now make an informed choice. Do they think it is right that this young man presumes to take away the ability of women struggling around the world to make important life choices for themselves?”
Liberal candidate Darren Hill told the StarPhoenix, “Why does Trost continue to spread ignorance and fear on an issue that even his own leader has declared are null and void?”