Okanagan Green Party candidates Robert Mellalieu (left) and Marc Reinarz (right) have both been called out by NDP for comments they made about abortion. (File)

NDP calls out Okanagan-based Green candidates for views on abortion

“The bad old days of women dying in back-alley abortions must never return,” said Elizabeth May

The New Democratic Party has taken aim at two Okanagan Green Party candidates for comments made regarding abortion rights that were published in an online political outlet earlier this week.

In an Thursday news release, the NDP pointed out several instances of anti-choice rhetoric from Green Party candidates across the country, including Robert Mellalieu (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) and Marc Reinarz (North Okanagan-Shuswap).

According to an exclusive report by PressProgress, Mellalieu refused to identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life” because “it is inappropriate to dilute the very complicated question of abortion to a simple binary answer.” He then summed up his thoughts: “I believe there should not be a need for abortion.”

The report also contains a comment from Reinarz, who said: “abortion must not be a means to birth control.”

In an interview with Black Press Media, Reinarz said his sentiment is being misconstrued.

“This is not anti-abortion,” he said.

“My standpoint is absolutely not anti-abortion… I openly state that I don’t think its right to use abortion as a primary (method of) birth control. But who am I as a man in his 60s to decide what the consequences are if (a woman) doesn’t follow her mind?”

Mellalieu could not be reached for comment but the Green Party candidate from the neighbouring riding of Kelowna-Lake Country provided his thoughts on the issue.

“(Mellalieu’s) statement is pretty politically neutral,” he said.

“I think what he might be saying is that if there were better social services in place, better ability for single moms to access affordable housing and they could make the decision to bring a child into this life knowing that they’d be well taken care of, maybe there might not be such a need for abortion as there is now under the current system.”

READ MORE: Stolen plaques to be restored at Kelowna cemetery

READ MORE: Conservatives pulling ahead of Liberals in Kelowna-Lake Country riding

Robert Mellalieu, Green Party candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, reached out to give his comments on the issue after the initial Black Press Media article published Thursday afternoon.

He said the statement he made in the report by PressProgress was misinterpreted.

“I will never waiver from a woman’s right to choose,” he said. “That’s sacrosanct, absolute, never changing that.”

He clarified the statement he made saying he believes “there should not be a need for abortion” was in reference to the lack of systems in place to help women in extreme situations.

“I hate abortion,” said Mellalieu. “So I want to make sure there’s everything we do as a society to prevent the need for a woman to exercise that right.”

He went on to explain that more services and education are needed so that abortion can be a last resort option.

“But at all times, it’s still her right to do that,” he said.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called the NDP’s attempt to point fingers at candidates “desperate.”

“It’s not the case,” she said. “We are looking for details. We have no details about what they claim. We just know it is not true.”

When asked about what freedoms Greens will have when it comes to speaking about abortion, May said the party is asking candidates to “ascribe” to the party’s “core values” and its policy and platform.

“There is a lot of room for people to move around on some issues,” she said.

But if would-be candidates have problems with abortion, she said they cannot run.

“As leader of the party, I don’t have the power to whip votes… we think whipping votes is anti-democratic. But I am quite confident that our candidates support the party’s position, which that we mustn’t retreat on a woman’s right for a safe and legal abortion.

“The bad old days of women dying in back-alley abortions must never return.”

May said the party did out would-be candidates because of their position on abortion.

“We actually had one person nominated, who we had to ask to stand down.”

May said she felt bad about that decision because she was a very impressive candidate.

“But she said that she couldn’t go along with it…so we did have some people removed well before the NDP tried to pretend that there was an issue. And they have candidates who don’t always agree with their positions. They whip votes; we don’t.”

READ MORE: Finalized ballot for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola will have six names

Abortion policy was a focus of Wednesday night’s french debate. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spent Thursday clarifying that he has no plans to reopen debates on abortion law, despite being “personally pro-life.”

May called the abortion issue a media one, calling it “manufactured.”

“I don’t hear it all from the public,” she said.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Narissa Young brings her Diana Krall tribute to Courtenay

Thursday Night Jazz at The Avalanche Bar will be something exceptional this… Continue reading

Comox Valley Move2Electric aims to decrease GHG emissions

Organizers of the 2019 Comox Valley Move2Electric car and bike show had… Continue reading

CSWM board votes to close two Comox Valley recycling depots

Board also rejects idea to reconsider Campbell River depot closures

Passing the torch: Comox Valley Child Development Association executive director Joanne Schroeder retires

This past month, the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) said farewell… Continue reading

Wounded Warrior Run comes to Comox Feb. 26

Campaign is aiming for $250,000 to support military members, first responders

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Comox Valley Beefs & Bouquets for week of Feb. 11

Readers strike back at tip-expectant server

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Most Read