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Conservative leadership hopeful Patrick Brown takes part in the Conservative Party of Canada French-language leadership debate in Laval, Que., on May 25.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Patrick Brown says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion means the Conservative Party in Canada needs to emphasize it is ruling out changes to policies on terminating pregnancies.

“I believe the Conservative Party needs to be clear on this, that we’re going to protect the reproductive rights of women; that we’re not going to revisit this debate,” the contender for the leadership of the Conservatives said in an interview on Tuesday.

“I’ve stated very clearly as soon as this decision was announced that any government I lead will not be revisiting this and I am pro choice.”

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed the right of women to obtain abortions. The decision spurred political leaders in Canada, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen, and the contenders for the Conservative leadership to make clear their stands on abortion.

Although opposition to abortion has been a focus for some social conservative members of the Conservative Party, Mr. Brown said he’s willing to work with them on other issues.

The mayor of the Toronto-area city of Brampton cited action to make adoption easier, and the protection of the rights of faith leaders, citing concerns about Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans designated public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols on the job.

“My message to social conservatives in the party would be: There are other issues in the party where I believe we can find a common area where we can work together.”

However, the national president of the Campaign Life Coalition rejected Mr. Brown’s assertion that abortion is an issue that can be put aside.

“The issue of the preborn baby’s right to life is the first and most fundamental of issues since it is upon this right that all other rights are based, including the right to liberty, security of the person, religious and speech freedoms, and others,” Jeff Gunnarson said in a statement.

“When conservatives or other politicians get this foremost of issues wrong, they set themselves up to go wrong on other issues too.”

Mr. Gunnarson said that while social conservatives are interested in such issues as religious freedom, freedom of speech, parental rights, and the protection of marriage and the family, “a truly social conservative sees the right to life as the most fundamental of issues.”

On the issue of Conservative MPs putting forward private member motions on abortion, Mr. Brown said such bills would not be part of his platform or passed by his government.

He said the issue should not be a priority for the Conservatives. “I think Canadians want to see the Conservative Party focus on economic issues and getting Canada’s economy back on track, and dealing with the financial chaos in Ottawa. I don’t believe Canadians want to see the Conservative Party revisiting social issues.”

The former Conservative MP and leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, who has been mayor of Brampton since 2018, said he has been “fully focused” on the Conservative leadership and is not making any preparations to seek re-election this fall in case he loses. He also said he is not using municipal resources to facilitate his leadership campaign.

To hold onto his job as leader of the city of more than 500,000 people, Mr. Brown would have to commit to a re-election bid in Brampton by Aug. 19, a month ahead of the Sept. 10 announcement of who has won the Conservative leadership.

The other candidates in the race are Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre as well as former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Roman Baber, a former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature.

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