Andrew Scheer and the anti-abortion movement in Canada - 2018-01-27
The vagueness of Scheer's free speech comments relates to his narrow margin of victory in the Conservative leadership campaign. Scheer only overtook leading competitor Maxime Bernier on the 13th ballot by relying on votes from social conservatives. He trailed Bernier until hardline social conservative Brad Trost fell out of the running. Once Trost's supporters' votes had to be redistributed, Scheer pulled ahead of Bernier and won the leadership race by less than two per cent.
Voters therefore did not simply reject Bernier's libertarian platform. Scheer directed his comments on free speech at social conservatives in the party to whom he owed his victory, as a promise to defend their right to hold and express their views. Groups like Right Now, an increasingly vocal anti-abortion organization that works to support and elect candidates who share its views, played an integral role in Scheer's campaign success.
One can still go to Right Now's website to see how they asked their anti-abortion supporters to vote in the Conservative leadership race. Scheer was ranked as the second best choice of the 14 candidates on the ballot, ahead of the other top contenders. When Scheer speaks of protecting free speech, he does so within the context of the anti-abortion movement and their desire to continue to advance their outdated views that a woman's right to choose should not be protected by the state.