OTTAWA — Conservative MP Brad Trost calls the CIDA grant of $6 million to International Planned Parenthood (IPF) a “slap in the face” to social conservatives in Parliament and in the Tory caucus.
“I am very, very disappointed, very unhappy,” said Trost, the pro-life Saskatoon-Humboldt MP, who campaigned last spring on getting IPF de-funded. IPF is a well-known abortion provider and promoter.
“Let’s be blunt,” he said. “This is a very controversial group. There are always other groups that apply for funding and get turned down.”
“At the end the minister has discretion on who does or does not get funding,” he said.
News of the funding broke on CBC News Sept. 22, with a report IPF would receive $6 million over three years to do work in countries where abortion is illegal. They will participate in health care for mothers and children and sexual education programs, according to an IPF spokeswoman.
A spokesman for International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda confirmed Planned Parenthood had received the grant money under the maternal health initiative announced last year.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the initiative in relation to the G8 meeting in Muskoka, Ont., and the G20 in Toronto, he promised that funding abortion would not be part of the initiative.
In an email, Oda’s press secretary Justin Broekema said the government decided to fund the portion of Planned Parenthood’s proposal that “met the government’s Muskoka Initiative in five countries of focus: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania.”
This includes “key elements such as the treatment and prevention of diseases, basic nutrition and safe drinking water,” Broekema said. The Muskoka Initiative could save the lives of 1.3 million children under five and prevent 64,000 maternal deaths.
Trost contends the story was leaked to CBC before the funding decision was finalized at 4 p.m. that day.
There are some positive elements, Trost said, because IPF used to receive $18 million in funding over three years that could directly fund abortion.
“I regard it as a bit of hair splitting,” he said. “They are officially not going to be allowed to use this money on abortion directly.” But the funding will free up other monies to go directly to abortion provision elsewhere.
Trost said the fact IPF’s funding has been reduced and restricted stems from the fact MPs spoke out in public and in the press. It also helped that many Canadians expressed their opinion.
Though Prime Minister Stephen Harper has maintained a tight discipline over his Tory caucus, Trost’s breaking ranks signals discontent among pro-life caucus members.
A spokesman for Canada’s pro-life movement also blasted the decision.
“Surely to goodness, there are other good organizations you can trust if you want to help women in Third World countries,” Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said.