WINNIPEG - A Conservative candidate in Winnipeg has compared the number of abortions in Canada to the death tolls of the Holocaust and the 9-11 attack in the United States.
Gordon Giesbrecht, who is running in Winnipeg-South, made the comments in a video posted online in 2009 when he was president of Horizon College and Seminary, a Christian academy in Saskatoon.
In the video, Giesbrecht says the number of abortions in recent decades equals "a 9/11 every day" and surpasses the number of people killed in the Holocaust in the Second World War.
"That's a very serious problem that confronts our youth in the world and in our churches," he says in the video.
"Unfortunately, this issue is seldom, if ever, addressed in our churches today."
He then quotes a Bible passage that refers to God knowing someone before they were shaped in the womb.
Giesbrecht was not available for comment Tuesday evening. His campaign manager, Olivia Baldwin-Valainis, said Giesbrecht was out door-knocking and would not be made available. Baldwin-Valainis said the Conservative party position has been, and remains, that the abortion issue will not be reopened.
Giesbrecht's feelings were also expressed more recently to the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition, according to the group's website. The group has awarded Giesbrecht a "green light," saying he opposed women having access to abortion under any circumstance in response to questions in May.
Giesbrecht, a former university faculty member known as "Professor Popsicle" for his research into cold water survival, is running for the Conservatives in a riding they have held under Rod Bruinooge, who recently retired from politics, since 2006.
Bruinooge's vocal opposition to abortion did not appear to hurt his electoral wins in the suburban riding. He was the chair of a parliamentary caucus which sought to rekindle the abortion debate and bring what he called "more value" to the lives of unborn children. He also spoke out shortly after abortion provider Henry Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008, calling it "reprehensible."
Giesbrecht made his personal opposition to abortion known to a Parliamentary committee in 2001. He also told the committee, which was studying proposed guidelines for assisted reproduction and the involvement of fetuses for research, that a regulatory agency governing the area should include religious representation as well.
"I would encourage the committee to ensure that representation on this body include not only politicians and scientists but faith-based and ethics groups as well," he said, according to the committee transcript.
Giesbrecht's main opponents are Liberal Terry Duguid and New Democrat Brianne Goertzen, who are both running for parties with pro-choice platforms.
"References to 9-11 and the holocaust are really most unfortunate and I don't think they're worthy of any further comment," Duguid said.
"We believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we will safeguard a woman's right to choose."
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