There's trouble brewing in the Tory caucus over a government decision to continue funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), a group that provides abortions abroad.
An angry Brad Trost, MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt, posted a response to International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda’s move to renew funding for the organization on his website, vowing that the Tories’ pro-lifers would take on aggressive stances.
"Many, many Conservative MPs pressed the PMO to stop the funds from flowing. Federal funding did stop for a time. Funds allocated to IPPF were considerably reduced ... This only happened because of the pressure applied. This was a real victory," he wrote.
Bureaucrats, Trost said, were still fighting to keep the taps flowing to Planned Parenthood, but he warned "pro-life politicians have been taught a lesson."
"The government only responds to pro-life issues and concerns when we take an aggressive stance. We will apply this lesson," he vowed.
His comments are “almost scary,” said the NDP international development critic Hélène Laverdière.
The NDP, she said, believes the decision to give $6 million to IPPF was a good one and a step in the right direction.
"We would have even liked to see the government go even further and that the funding would include reproduction services but they are programs that are interesting in countries that absolutely need, sexual education and contraception, such as Mali, Sudan, Bangladesh," she said.
“Women in Canada have the right to chose for themselves, and I do not understand, I will never under undersand, why we would prevent women in Africa, women in Bangladesh or elsewhere, those same rights that women here enjoy,” she added.
Trost had boasted during the last federal election that he had helped de-fund Planned Parenthood with the help of petitions signed by anti-abortion advocates.
"Now, you should know, they're still trying to get their snout back in the public trough," Trost told the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association in April, in a speech that was distributed by the Liberals.
The Conservatives insisted at the time that IPFF’s multi-million-dollar funding had not been cut but simply delayed.
In a story, first reported by CBC on Sept. 22, the Canadian International Development Agency confirmed it would provide the group with $6 million over three years to be used in countries where abortions are not performed.
Trost, in his letter, said he didn’t know how the government's decision "squares with the repeated statement that Canada will not fund abortion internationally."
"The PMO attempts to square this circle by only permitting IPPF funding to go into countries that ban abortion," he wrote. "Considering that promoting abortion internationally is central to the identity of IPPF, this sort of political hairsplitting only seems to make sense in the Ottawa bubble. This is a position I totally reject."
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office told HuffPost Wednesday that if Trost was presented with the facts, he would understand the government’s decision.
"The fact of the matter is that funding is going to countries that do not fund abortions, it is going to maternal and children's health. It will help save lives. I think those facts, when he sees them, he will appreciate them," the official said.
Liberal health critic Hedy Fry, noted Trost had "attacked his own Conservative government today" and asked Oda for assurances Wednesday during Question Period that the government would not "yield to such threats" and would "ensure that women around the globe have access to evidence-based programs that include safe abortions and family planning services."
Although Oda stood up to answer the question, she took the opportunity to highlight Canada's Muskoka initiative and action taken to prevent malaria, provide mothers and children with better nutrition and train more midwives. She ran out of time to address Trost's comment directly or the funding decision.
Trost’s colleagues kept mum Wednesday.
Fellow pro-lifer Cheryl Gallant, the MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, told HuffPost she hadn’t heard Trost’s comments "so I am not going to comment."
Response to Federal Government's Decision to Fund IPPF
Late in the afternoon of Thursday, September 22nd, I received a phone call from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) about a news story on the CBC that had run earlier in the day. The CBC reported that the federal government had approved funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
A PMO staffer explained to me that the story had not been accurate when it ran, but due to the day's events, the CBC story was mostly accurate now. Apparently, six staffers in CIDA Minister Bev Oda's office had been working on a grant to fund IPPF -- and one of them decided to leak the story to the CBC.
Rather than deny the story, a decision was made to rush funding to IPPF to the tune of $6 million over three years. (I was told that the funding letter was sent out at 4 pm that afternoon.)
People have asked how funding IPPF squares with the repeated statement that Canada will not fund abortion internationally. The PMO attempts to square this circle by only permitting IPPF funding to go into countries that ban abortion.
Considering that promoting abortion internationally is central to the identity of IPPF, this sort of political hairsplitting only seems to make sense in the Ottawa bubble. This is a position I totally reject.
Since 2006, Conservative MPs have been asking to have IPPF defunded.
In 2006, our request that federal funding for IPPF be stopped was ignored because we asked politely--and behind closed doors.
In 2009, we became more aggressive and began to take our campaign public.
Many, many Conservative MPs pressed the PMO to stop the funds from flowing. Federal funding did stop for a time. Funds allocated to IPPF were considerably reduced. Furthermore, federal grants for IPPF also had more strings attached.
This only happened because of the pressure applied. This was a real victory.
Bureaucrats have fought for years to keep the status quo and continue the funding of the IPPF that was established by the Liberals.
The battle over the IPPF continues.
Pro-life politicians have been taught a lesson.
The government only responds to pro-life issues and concerns when we take an aggressive stance.
We will apply this lesson.