A Conservative candidate's comments about abortion have heated up the campaign in Saskatoon-Humboldt.
Incumbent Conservative Brad Trost was swarmed by media at a candidates meeting Thursday following reports about his speech to the Saskatchewan ProLife Association on the weekend.
Trost told the weekend meeting that thanks in part to petitions from the group, the federal government has "de-funded" Planned Parenthood International. (Planned Parenthood later said it has received no official word on its funding.)
Asked Thursday why it should be de-funded, Trost said, "Because it supports abortion."
Trost's comments did not escape the attention of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who tried to end the debate.
"This is not the priority of the Canadian people, or of this government, " Harper said. "The priority is the economy, that's what we are going to focus on."
Inside the Saskatoon-Humboldt riding, others may be hoping the controversy has legs.
Liberal candidate Darren Hill hopes to replace Trost as MP, as does the NDP's Denise Kouri, the Green Party's Sandra Finley and independent Jim Pankiw.
Hill said what Trost said is disturbing on several levels, including his apparent disdain for a worthy organization like Planned Parenthood.
The speech on the weekend also suggests the Conservatives have a hidden agenda, he said.
"We're at risk in this area of that particular MP taking advantage of his power and affecting such issues as women's rights," Hill said.
But Trost is not backing away from his belief that abortions should not be paid for out of taxpayer funds.
"The prime minister does not share my views," Trost said. "This is an issue that we have differences on. I would like him to come around, but I don't think he'll change."
Whether the controversy will have any impact on the Saskatoon-Humboldt race is an open question.
In the last election, Trost trounced the competition, taking in almost 9,000 more votes than the second-place finisher.