Politics

Green Party drops anti-abortion candidate in Ontario riding

The Green Party of Canada is dropping its candidate in the eastern Ontario riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for comments she made online about abortion.

Candidate Marthe Lépine accuses Green Party of 'flagrant' anti-Catholic 'discrimination'

Marthe Lépine participates in a candidate debate. She has since been dropped as a candidate by the Green Party. (Denis Babin/CBC)

The Green Party of Canada is dropping its candidate in the eastern Ontario riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell over comments she made online about abortion.

Green Party spokesperson John Chenery said the party voted Sunday night to remove Marthe Lépine and asked her to cease representing herself as a Green candidate. But the party missed the deadline to remove her name from the ballot.

Chenery said Lépine had posted views about abortion that did not mesh with the Green Party's policies.

"The Green Party will always fight for access to timely, safe, legal abortions," he later said in a statement.

"It recently came to light through social media posts that Ms. Lépine does not support this position, so she has been removed as a candidate."

Lépine said she has left comments on Catholic blogs but insisted they are innocuous. She said she believes in improving women's living conditions so that they don't seek abortions.

"My Catholic view is that abortion is a bad thing," she said. "I understand some people feel like they have no real choice ... it should be avoided as much as possible."

Lépine said the party told her by phone last night she was being dropped over her values, but she terminated the call before the party official could elaborate.

"I think it's basically flagrant discrimination because I'm Catholic, so they're afraid I'd say something that upsets them."

Ongoing issue

It's not the first time the party has had to deal with anti-abortion views in the ranks during this campaign.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate Mark Vercouteren was forced to answer questions about anti-abortion statements he made in two Campaign Life Coalition questionnaires — in one case as recently as the 2018 Ontario provincial election campaign.

Vercouteren told CBC he "doesn't remember" making those comments.

The Green Party issued a statement early on in the campaign insisting there is "zero chance" of an elected Green MP reopening the abortion debate.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told Power & Politics that elected members of her party would not be prevented from trying to reopen the debate on abortion in the next Parliament, despite her own stated belief that "a woman has a right to a safe, legal abortion."

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