Chris Selley: A refreshing change on the campaign trail — crystal clear answers from a politician


Conservative leader Erin O’Toole used an interesting word this week, at least twice, while answering questions from reporters. The word was “yes.” It’s a simple word, but Canadian politicians will often turn rhetorical cartwheels to avoid using it (or its cousin, “no”). When a reporter concludes a question with “yes or no?” it’s a near-guarantee the response won’t contain either, let alone begin with it. O’Toole has been asked repeatedly this week whether his support for a woman’s right to choose an abortion conflicts with his platform pledge to “protect the conscience rights of healthcare professionals.” His reasonable response: a “balanced approach” can accommodate both at the same time. Canadian society balances all kinds of competing rights every day. On Friday in a very wet Winnipeg, though, he was asked directly whether a doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion would have to refer a woman to someone else willing to consult or perform it. “Yes,” O’Toole said, “they will have to refer, because the right to those services exists across the country.” Crystal clear.

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