Anti-abortion candidate endorsements 83.5% male
Calgary voters weigh in on what the endorsements mean to them
As a self-described "middle-aged, middle-class, white guy," Colin McDonald thinks it's "outrageous" for politicians of his gender to meddle in the reproductive rights of women.
The Calgary resident was less than impressed to see a candidate in his riding on the male-dominated list of parliamentary hopefuls endorsed by an anti-abortion group in the 2015 federal election.
Ninety-six of the 115 candidates on the Campaign Life Coalition's "Pro-Life Voters Guide" are male — that's 83.5 per cent.
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By party affiliation, 74.8 per cent of the candidates are Conservative, 23.5 per cent are with the Christian Heritage Party and 1.7 per cent are independents.
"Unfortunately, there are no supportable pro-life candidates running for the Liberals or NDP, which require all their candidates to support abortion on-demand," the voting guide states.
For McDonald, though, the topic is "something we should have gotten past in the '60s" and he was surprised to see Conservative candidate Len Webber among the group's 115 endorsements.
He is running in Calgary Confederation against Liberal Matt Grant, NDP Kirk Heuser, Green Party candidate Natalie Odd and Kevan Hunter from the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada.
"I really don't understand that we're still wrapped up in these Bible topics in a country that should have divided church and state a long time ago," McDonald said. "I believe we did that, in Canada."
Webber declines interview
Webber, for his part, didn't want to talk about the fact that he is on the endorsement list, declining interview requests from CBC News on Friday.
His spokesperson would only offer a written statement attributable to Webber.
"The prime minister has been clear that he doesn't support reopening this debate," the statement reads. "I strongly support the prime minister's position on this."
McDonald's neighbour Lori Onufrichuk has been a Conservative supporter in the past, but said she's pro-choice and would reconsider her vote in this election based on a candidate's position on the issue.
"That would weigh heavily for me actually because I think it's important for people to have the freedom to choose what's right for them, whether it's abortion or any other choice," she said.
Melanee Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, wondered if the endorsements might prove counter-productive for some of the Conservative candidates on the list, particularly those in tight races.
Abortion is an a issue "for a very small number of voters," she noted, but for those voters "it matters a lot."
"So, for a Conservative candidate, it could solidify support but it strikes me that this is support that's not going to go anywhere else and if it did it would go to the Christian Heritage Party or some other fringe," she said.
Thomas said the endorsements could harm Conservative candidates in the eyes of swing voters attracted to the party's economic policies.
CBC was unable to reach the Campaign Life Coalition for comment on Friday but Jeff Gunnarson, a spokesperson for the group, previously said there is "always hope" the laws around abortion will change, despite the unwillingness of all major party leaders to reopen the issue.
"As anyone fighting for any issue understands, discussion and debate is always good," Gunnarson told CBC Manitoba earlier this month.