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Conservative MP Brad Trost is seen in an October 2004 file photo. (Bill Grimshaw/Bill Grimshaw for The Globe and Mail)
Conservative MP Brad Trost is seen in an October 2004 file photo. (Bill Grimshaw/Bill Grimshaw for The Globe and Mail)

Ottawa cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, Tory MP says Add to ...

A Conservative candidate has told constituents on the stump that the government has decided not to fund a family planning group - but his party quickly said no such decision had been made and distanced itself from his comments.

Brad Trost, who is running for re-election in the semi-suburban, semi-rural riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt, made the remarks during a speech to an evening banquet at a Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association convention last Saturday.

After thanking those who signed petitions to defund the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a group that provides assistance with birth control and maternal health, he told the audience how his office had spearheaded the campaign and how other MPs had helped him.

"Let me tell you, and I cannot tell you specifically how we used it but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood, because it has been an absolute disgrace that this organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers' dollars," he said in a recording of the speech released to the media by the Liberal Party.

Planned Parenthood, which also funds abortions and promotes abortion rights, has received government money for decades, most recently an $18-million grant from the Canadian International Development Agency that ran out at the end of 2009. Last fall, the government began talks for new funding for the agency.

No decision has been announced. But in his speech, Mr. Trost suggested that the government had stopped funding the group.

"Now, you should know, they're still trying to get their snout back in the public trough so that they can go do it," he said. "And so there's going to be a lot of vigilance and pressure and if you and your groups hear anything, please help us as Members of Parliament because we're going to be on the lookout as they try to get in there."

A spokesman for Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper said the government had not made such a decision about funding Planned Parenthood and that it had no desire to decide who to fund based on abortion issues.

"We have been crystal clear on this issue - we are not re-opening this debate," said Dimitri Soudas.

Asked what Mr. Trost was talking about, Mr. Soudas responded: "That's a good question. Brad Trost is a backbench MP."

He said the government was committed to aiding international maternal health and would evaluate funding requests from groups that could help them deliver things like family planning and prenatal care on a case-by-case basis.

"We will work with organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation within these initiatives," he said.

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