Justin Trudeau Says Abortion Rights Trump MPs' Freedom To Vote Their Conscience

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Women’s reproductive rights trump the freedom of Liberal members of parliament to vote their conscience on abortion, Justin Trudeau said, adding that it’s time that his party “actually defended rights.” | David Cooper via Getty Images
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Women’s reproductive rights trump the freedom of Liberal members of parliament to vote their conscience on abortion, Justin Trudeau said, adding that it’s time that his party “actually defended rights.”

“I have had a lot of Liberals come up to me and say, 'I don’t quite understand, isn’t the Liberal party about freedom and about defending people’s rights?'" Trudeau said in an interview with CBC’s The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright.

“Absolutely it is. And the rights that women have fought for over decades to be in control of their own bodies and to control their own reproductive health is not a right I’m going to brush aside to defend the freedom of speech or the freedom to vote a particular way for an MP."

Trudeau has said that any Liberal MP, regardless of their personal beliefs, would have to vote against any proposed legislation that could limit a woman’s right to an abortion.

“If they vote in favour of restricting women's access to abortion, that’s taking away their rights. And that is something that we will not accept in the Liberal party. We are the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that’s a serious, serious position that Liberals have to defend.

"It’s time the Liberal party actually defended rights,” he said.

Asked if his pro-choice policy would essentially kiss off the Catholic vote, Trudeau said that he too is Catholic, and that lots of Catholics were upset when previous Liberal governments legalized divorce and decriminalized homosexuality.

Need to 'vanquish' ISIS

The Liberal leader spoke on a wide range of subjects. Trudeau, who came under fire by Conservatives last year for suggesting the "root causes" of the Boston Marathon bombings need to be examined, was asked if that applies to ISIS and whether we need to understand their jihadist thinking. 

"That's not what root causes is all about. It's not about trying to understand the philosophy and the theology behind ISIS," he said. "These are extremists who are out to gain power, political power, and are using religion as a tool for that. What we need to do against enemy armies is not try and debate them, it's try and vanquish them to protect civilians."

On corporate tax cuts, Trudeau said rates shouldn't be raised and need to stay competitive to grow the economy.

"The problem is, in order to grow the economy, you have to have a plan that draws in investment, that actually allows the economy to flourish and grow. And what happens when you raise corporate taxes that are right now at a competitive level around the world, is you're turning away investment that we need to grow the economy," he said. 

Increasing the tax rate will only serve to drive money even further offshore, Trudeau said. 

"There are some real challenges we have to face but I know we don't face them by putting forward facile answers of 'we're going to force corporations to pay more taxes' because that sounds popular but it doesn't work."

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