Conservative leader Andrew Scheer arrives for a morning announcement in Toronto Tuesday, October 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Tory leader grilled on abortion in Canadian election debate

A Conservative government wouldn’t change abortion rules in Canada, Scheer says

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and opposition party leaders grilled the leader of the Conservative party Wednesday night on his personal beliefs on abortion in Trudeau’s first debate of the campaign for this month’s elections.

Trudeau wasn’t asked about photos of him appearing in brownface and blackface years ago despite it making headlines around the world just two weeks ago. The controversy hasn’t led to a drop in the polls for Trudeau.

At the French-language debate in Montreal, Trudeau and the leaders of other opposition parties tried to corner opposition Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on his personal position on abortion.

Scheer said that if elected to govern in the Oct. 21 parliamentary elections, a Conservative government wouldn’t change abortion rules in Canada. But Scheer didn’t answer what his personal belief on abortion is.

“Yes or no,” Trudeau said as he pressed Scheer repeatedly on a woman’s right to choose.

Scheer was elected as the Conservative party’s leader in part because of support among social conservatives in his party.

“I will make sure that a Conservative party will not reopen the debate,” Scheer said.

READ MORE: Federal-party leaders seek momentum in French-language debate amid flat polls

Trudeau’s Liberal party hopes to win more districts in the French-language province of Quebec in this election in order to stay in power. The opposition leaders of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties also attacked Scheer on the abortion issue.

“We are seeing that three of us are aligned on values, the values of Quebecers, and we have a fourth, a Conservative party that is not aligned,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau, 47, is seeking a second term as prime minister and Scheer, 40, is his leading opponent.

When the environment came up, Sheer noted that Trudeau is the only candidate using two planes for his campaign, quipping that Trudeau is using one for himself and the media and the other for his costumes.

Trudeau was mocked at home and abroad for repeatedly dressing up in colorful, traditional Indian garb during a visit to India in 2018.

The brownface controversy surfaced last month when Time magazine published a photo showing the then-29-year-old Trudeau at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001 wearing a turban and robe with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck. Trudeau said he was dressed as a character from “Aladdin.”

Rob Gillies, The Associated Press

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