05/09/2019 13:57 EDT | Updated 05/09/2019 21:35 EDT

Doug Ford Ducks Abortion Question By Tapping Minister To Bash Carbon Tax

PC MPPs joined an anti-abortion demonstration outside Queen's Park.

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford refused to say whether he supports legal abortion during question period Thursday, referring the questions to the minister of energy, mines, northern development and Indigenous affairs.

NDP MPP France Gélinas asked Ford if he supports his three MPPs who attended an anti-abortion rally outside Queen's Park Thursday.

"Women across Ontario have fought really hard for their reproductive rights," Gélinas said.

"Conservative MPPs joined an anti-choice rally outside Queen's Park just now and they told the protesters, 'We pledged to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.' Does the premier support his MPPs?"

Ford tapped Minister Greg Rickford to answer on his behalf.

We're concerned, for example, that a job-killing, regressive carbon tax would compromise the resources of hospitals.Greg Rickford

"Of course we're protecting what matters, Mr. Speaker," Rickford said. "We're focused on a health-care system that addresses the needs of every person who lives in Ontario. We're concerned, for example, that a job-killing, regressive carbon tax would compromise the resources of hospitals and medical clinics across this province and across northern Ontario to serve the needs of the people of Ontario."

Gélinas directed her next question to Ford.

"I fail to see how this had anything to do with the question that I asked," she said.

"I'm asking him this morning, will he stand here today and say that he refutes his MPPs' comments and supports a woman's right to choose?" she asked.

Ford referred to Rickford, who once again brought up the federal government's "job-killing, regressive carbon tax."

PCs join anti-abortion protest

Anti-abortion groups protesting at Queen's Park Thursday were joined by three of Ford's Progressive Conservative MPPs: Sam Oosterhoff, who represents Niagara West; Will Bouma, the MPP for Brantford—Brant; and Christina Mitas of Scarborough Centre.

Oosterhoff, who has always been public about his anti-abortion views, quoted Dr. Seuss when cornered by reporters after the protest.

"A person's a person, no matter how small," he said.

Representatives for Ford did not directly answer HuffPost Canada's questions if the premier supports legal, publicly funded abortion and why it was appropriate for the minister of energy to respond to questions on the topic.

But his office said the PC party welcomes MPPs from many backgrounds.

"The Ontario PC Party is a big-tent. We welcome members from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs," Ford said in a statement sent by spokesman Simon Jefferies.

"Our government is focused on protecting what matters most, cleaning up a fiscal mess left behind by the Liberals, making Ontario open for business and open for jobs, and lowering taxes for families. The Government will not re-open the abortion debate."

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