Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has responded to remarks made by one of his MPs, John McKay, about how Trudeau had a "bozo eruption" when he announced Liberal parliamentarians cannot vote in favour of anti-abortion motions or bills.
"Mr. Trudeau respects Mr. McKay. Mr. McKay has strong, personal feelings about this issue and often in those situations people say things that they come to regret. Mr. Trudeau has been very clear that his job is to make decisions that safeguard the rights of all Canadians and that is why he is steadfast in his belief of a woman’s right to choose," reads a statement issued by Trudeau's office Monday night.
McKay, an evangelical Christian who has never hidden his anti-abortion position, was secretly recorded during a conversation he had in Toronto over the weekend.
"I initially thought it was a bozo eruption; that he didn’t actually think about what he said,” McKay reportedly said of Trudeau's initial position stating new members of his caucus could not hold anti-abortion views.
Trudeau later said Liberal members would be expected to vote against any bill that would restrict a woman's right to have access to safe, legal abortions, in order to respect the charter.
According to a CTV News report, McKay was recorded saying to an unknown person, "If you don’t know this is a toxic issue for a population, then you have no political sense whatsoever.”
McKay's comments echo those of recently retired Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who told Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics, that Trudeau's dictum on abortion "would hurt the party."
Speaking to reporters in the House of Commons foyer after question period Tuesday, Trudeau said McKay has personally apologized to him. He added McKay's strong feelings on the subject had "overflowed."
Trudeau noted the Liberal Party voted in 2012 to be clearly pro-choice. "We will always stand up for a woman's right to choose," he said.
Liberal MP Judy Sgro, who is also said to have anti-abortion views, said in a scrum Tuesday it was unfortunate a private conversation by McKay had been surreptitiously taped.
Liberal MP Laurence MacAulay, reported to favour an anti-abortion stance, told reporters he would not comment on a report [about McKay] he had not read.
McKay, first elected in 1997, is the party's environment critic.