OTTAWA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The leader of Canada’s main opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, on Thursday brushed off accusations he harbored an extreme agenda, insisting he would not reopen a debate on abortion if he wins an October election.
Polls show the Conservatives have a chance of defeating the ruling Liberals of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been hit by a series of scandals over the last two years.
There are few restrictions on abortion in Canada and the right-of-center Conservatives have traditionally steered clear of the topic, fearing they could alienate progressive voters.
In recent days senior Liberals accused Scheer of secretly planning to allow more discussion on abortion if he wins the Oct. 21 vote and also focused on a speech he gave in early 2005 opposing gay marriage.
“A Conservative government will not reopen these divisive social issues ... the Liberals are trying to distract from their record of failure, corruption and scandal,” Scheer told a televised news conference in Toronto.
Pressed specifically on abortion rights, he replied: “I will not reopen this debate and I will oppose measures or attempts to open this debate.”
Asked about his 2005 comments on gay marriage, Scheer said his thinking had evolved and noted that some Liberal legislators had opposed the measure at the time.
“This issue was settled long ago ... today it is the law of the land and I will always uphold that law,” he said. Gay marriage in Canada became legal in July 2005.
Scheer accused the Liberals of hiding plans to raise taxes and predicted more scandals if they retained power.
Earlier this month, Trudeau accepted a watchdog’s report that he had breached ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case but he refused to apologize. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)