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Conservative leader grilled over abortion views during Canada debate

Andrew Scheer was constantly tackled on the subject by prime minister Justin Trudeau ahead of polls on October 21.

Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau (Nathan Denette/Ryan Remiorz AP)
Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau (Nathan Denette/Ryan Remiorz AP)

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau and opposition party leaders grilled the leader of the Conservative party on his personal beliefs on abortion in Mr Trudeau’s first debate of the campaign for this month’s elections.

Mr Trudeau was not 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 has not led to a drop in the polls for Mr Trudeau.

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

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau arrives for the TVA French-language debate in Montrea (Jonathan Hayward/AP)

Mr Scheer said that, if elected to govern in the October 21 parliamentary elections, a Conservative government would not change abortion rules in Canada.

But Mr Scheer did not answer what his personal belief on abortion is.

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

Mr 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,” Mr Scheer said.

Mr 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.

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Conservative leader Andrew Scheer (Jonathan Hayward/AP)

The opposition leaders of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties also attacked Mr 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,” Mr Trudeau said.

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

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

Mr Trudeau was mocked at home and abroad for repeatedly dressing up in colourful, 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 Mr Trudeau at an Arabian Nights party in 2001 wearing a turban and robe with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.

Mr Trudeau said he was dressed as a character from Aladdin.

PA

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