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‘I’m pretty solid in those views’: Rural health minister defends speaking at pro-life convention
Published Thursday, April 11, 2019 4:29PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:30PM CST
Minister of Rural and Remote Health Greg Ottenbreit defended his decision to speak at a pro-life conference in Yorkton, after the NDP opposition raised the issue in the legislature Thursday.
After question period, Ottenbreit told reporters he saw this as an attempt to politicize his personal views and beliefs.
“[The opposition] all try and politicize and drive wedges in a lot of different areas and it’s not the first time I’ve been under fire for my pro-life views or my Christian faith,” Ottenbreit said. “I’m pretty solid in those views, and I’m comfortable defending.”
The NDP said its concerns come from what Ottenbreit said at the annual province-wide convention hosted by the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association.
“The minister indicated at a convention last week that he would continue to do what he can in his professional capacity in the battle against reproductive rights in Saskatchewan,” said NDP MLA Vicki Mowat.
The opposition said it takes issue because of the province’s ongoing review of whether it should provide universal access to the abortion-inducing drug Mifegymiso.
“It’s okay for members to have different personal opinions, but this is about him being the Minister of Rural and Remote Health and ensuring that women in rural and remote areas have access to reproductive care,” Mowat said.
Ottenbreit said he spoke at the convention as Yorkton’s MLA and not in his role as minister.
“Basically, my professional capacity I’m first and foremost an MLA for my constituents,” Ottenbreit said. “One of those duties of mine is to convey their message to members of caucus and cabinet and that’s the majority of my remarks and what they meant.”
“I’ve been here four and a half years, and I wouldn’t think anybody could point to any one decision that my beliefs influenced a direction of government,” Ottenbreit said. “Everything that we do in government respects the law of the land of Canada and that is reflected in our Saskatchewan laws and our access to different health services throughout the province.”
Minister of Health Jim Reiter says Ottenbreit was supportive of the government looking into covering the drug.
“When we were asked to do the review, we initiated it promptly,” Reiter said. “[Ottenbreit] was in the briefing when I gave direction to the ministry to review it and he was supportive of that.”
The government started the review three weeks ago, although there’s no indication when a decision will be made.