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Globe editorial: Andrew Scheer’s weird tolerance level

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer gave a recent interview to The Globe and Mail in which he tried to sell the Tories as Canada's party of tolerance and acceptance. He didn't nail it.

Mr. Scheer argued that his party is more tolerant of differing views than the Liberal Party is, and as proof he cited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's requirement that Liberal MPs must support a woman's right to choose in any vote on abortion in the House of Commons.

And then he said that, if elected, he would not allow anyone in his party to table legislation to restrict or ban abortion, and that "when the [Conservative] caucus takes a final decision on a position, then the rest of the MPs are asked to support that."

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There is exactly zero daylight between his position and that of Mr. Trudeau.

Mr. Scheer is personally opposed to abortion, as are many Conservative voters. And yet he insists, almost to a fault, that a Tory government led by him would silence any Conservative MPs who tried to raise the issue.

Perhaps he believes that to say otherwise would cost him votes in a country where abortion rights are supported by the majority, and by the Supreme Court.

If so, where Mr. Trudeau's position on abortion is credibly based on personal conviction, Mr. Scheer's is the ugly offspring of political expediency. As such, it is hardly evidence of his party's support for a diverse range of views.

Mr. Scheer was equally clumsy on the issue of LGBTQ rights, insisting he is a supporter. But as an MP, he voted against gay marriage in 2005, and as party leader he refuses to take part in Pride parades.

"Not everyone marches," he says. And fair enough. But while he claims the LGBTQ community should not take his absence from Pride parades as de facto proof that he isn't a supporter, he's happy to let that same absence send a signal to his political base about his beliefs.

Mr. Scheer has apparently made it a priority to rebrand his party as a Canada's brightest beacon of tolerance. Based on what we've seen, he may not be the person for the job.

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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called same-sex marriage abhorrent. In fact, he said it was abhorrent for a Catholic bishop to be called before a human rights tribunal to answer to a civil authority on this issue.
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