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Conservative members form policies on abortion, euthanasia

Delegates vote on a motion during a policy plenary session during the Conservative Convention in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.
Image Credit: The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

CALGARY - Conservative members voted in favour of policies that touched on abortion, euthanasia and labour rights on Saturday, hoping to influence the party's 2015 election platform.

The rank-and-file also passed a resolution to entrench financial reporting at their biennial conventions. That passed overwhelmingly the same week that Sen. Mike Duffy revealed the party had paid a $13,000 legal bill while his expenses were being scrutinized.

Voting and debate was brisk among the 1,000 delegates inside the cavernous convention room on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede.

A motion condemning sex-selective abortion passed with overwhelming support among delegates. Earlier this year, a group of Conservative MPs kept a similar controversial motion from reaching the Commons.

"Right now in the world there are over 200 million missing girls because of the practice of using ultrasounds to find out if its a boy or girl," said Vancouver-area MP Mark Warawa.

"Girls have equal value as boys, we should not be discriminating against them in any form."

The party is dealing with a number of policy proposals that touch on labour issues — also a favourite issue among the Tory caucus.

One resolution requires federally regulated unions to report on their political and media donations, and on their activist campaigns, while allowing union members to withhold dues devoted to those activities. The resolution passed easily.

There was a closer vote on a policy that "the Conservative Party will not support any legislation to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide." It ultimately passed, but one delegate from Nova Scotia encouraged delegates to put themselves in the shoes of a person dying in pain who can't find palliative care.

Delegates also spent time discussing internal party rules. A resolution to make it mandatory for the Conservative Fund of Canada to present a report at conventions passed without any dissent.

The idea is notable, given the recent revelation the party had paid for some of Duffy's legal bills related to his contested Senate expenses.

RCMP court filings have also alleged that the president of the Conservative Fund of Canada, Sen. Irving Gerstein, was discussing the possibility of paying back up to $30,000 of Duffy's expenses.

In the end, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's then chief of staff Nigel Wright secretly repaid $90,000 of Duffy's claims out of his own pocket.

Trenton Poy, the B.C. delegate who presented the resolution, said he wasn't motivated by the recent developments, but feels strongly about transparency.

"I just know being involved with this party and the provincial party it's always good that there's those checks and balances, and in politics you can never have too many checks and balances," said Poy.

Gerstein was scheduled to present a report on the fund later on Saturday.

Other policy resolutions passed Saturday included:
- The government will resist domestic or international pressure to delegitimize firearms ownership
- Those convicted of more than one serious crime would serve their sentences consecutively, something the government is already looking at doing.
- Allowing faith-based organizations to bar groups whose views they disagree with from using their facilities.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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