Tories defunding Planned Parenthood, MP says

A Saskatchewan Conservative candidate claims the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters.
Brad Trost told the Saskatchewan ProLife Association's annual convention last Saturday that the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

A Saskatchewan Conservative candidate says the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters.

The decision on whether to fund the organization has not yet been announced. But Brad Trost, the incumbent candidate for Saskatoon-Humboldt, told the Saskatchewan ProLife Association's annual convention last Saturday that anti-abortion supporters who signed petitions played a big role.

In a recording of his speech, obtained by CBC News, Trost can be heard thanking those who had signed the petitions, saying his office was involved in spearheading the petition campaign along with other members of Parliament.

"Let me just tell you, I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been an absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers' dollars," Trost told the group to applause.

"And so there’s going to be a lot of vigilance and pressure and if you and your groups hear anything, please help us as members of Parliament because we’re going to be on the lookout as they try to get in there. I’ve got reports that they’re trying to get grants and again we will be pushing back from the other side."

Planned Parenthood provides worldwide counselling and services, which include family planning, contraceptives, HIV-related services and abortion-related services.

The organization has said it had not yet been informed whether the Canadian International Development Agency would approve its $18-million grant.

Conservative reaction

Dimitri Soudas, the Conservative party's chief spokesperson, called reporters travelling with the Stephen Harper's campaign to an impromptu scrum at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday in St. John's, N.L.

Soudas read from his smart phone reiterating the basic talking points of the government's signature G8 "Muskoka Initiative" on child and maternal health.

"I gather from media reports one of our members of parliament has stated something to the contrary, but we have clearly laid out what our G8 initiative will focus on. Organizations like International Planned Parenthood or others that are willing to work with our government, we look forward to working with them as well on this important initiative," he said.

Soudas refused to say whether Planned Parenthood would receive its funding.

The group has been waiting for more than a year and assumes it has been cut off — similar to the fate of other non-governmental organizations that have fallen out of favour with the Harper government.

"I can't comment on specific applications," Soudas said, but added the government would work with "organizations like International Planned Parenthood that will focus its energy and efforts on the criteria that we have laid out."

Asked repeatedly whether allowing access to abortion was part of the government's funding criteria, Soudas replied:

"No, it does not."

-- with files from Canadian Press