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Richmond Centre Conservative candidate avoids abortion question

Alice Wong wouldn't say what her position on abortion rights was but instead said her track record speaks for itself.
Richmond Centre MP Alice Wong

Richmond’s two Conservative candidates had very different answers on the question of abortion rights – which their party leader Erin O’Toole reiterated this week he stands behind.

Incumbent MP Kenny Chiu said he supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and he emphasized, if Conservatives were elected as government, they wouldn’t re-open this debate.

Five-term MP Alice Wong, however, also running for re-election, wouldn’t answer whether or not she was pro-choice, instead said her voting record speaks for itself.

“My voting record speaks for itself – and, unlike the other parties, our Conservative Party allows MPs… the freedom to vote with their conscience on these issues,” she told the Richmond News.

In fact, Wong voted against a ban on conversion therapy – her reasoning was the definition and details weren’t satisfactory – and she voted earlier this year to ban sex-selective abortions.

The latter was a private member’s bill, brought forward by Saskatchewan Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall, and was voted down 248-82.

Chiu, first elected in 2019 to Steveston Richmond-East, also voted against the conversion therapy ban for many of the same reasons cited by Wong as well as for the ban on sex-selective abortion.

But Chiu said he stands with O’Toole to defend a woman’s right to have an abortion, adding the party is committed to not re-opening the issue.

“We’re aligning ourselves with what Canadians have decided over the years – so, on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, we’re not going to touch (it), we’re not going to change it,” Chiu said.

This issue has been dragged out many times as a “bogeyman,” he added, pointing out many people said Stephen Harper’s Conservative government would change abortion rights, but, in fact, when the Conservatives had a majority, nothing changed.

“To drag out the perennial topic and try to smear the Conservatives is a sign of desperation on our political opponent and some of our media who are happy to play along,” he said.

He said he’d prefer to focus on issues like the deficit and the Liberals’ track record than this issue.

Chiu said he supported O’Toole when he was running to be leader of the party with his pro-choice stance.

“We are not going to deny women’s rights – we are not going to open up the abortion issue, we’re not going to ban abortion,” Chiu said.