Tory leader grilled on abortion in Canadian election debate

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TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and opposition party leaders grilled the leader of the Conservative party Wednesday night on his personal beliefs on abortion in Trudeau’s first debate of the campaign for this month’s elections.

Photos of Trudeau appearing in brownface and blackface years ago did not come up in the first half of the French-language debate, which was held in Montreal. The controversy hasn’t led to a drop in the polls for Trudeau.

Trudeau and the leaders of other opposition parties tried to corner opposition Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on his personal position on abortion.

Scheer said that if elected to govern in the Oct. 21 parliamentary elections, a Conservative government wouldn’t change abortion rules in Canada. But Scheer didn’t answer what his personal belief on abortion is.

“Yes or no,” Trudeau said as he pressed Scheer repeatedly on a woman’s right to choose.

Scheer was elected as the Conservative party’s leader in part because of support among social conservatives in his party.

Trudeau’s Liberal party hopes to win more districts in the French-language province of Quebec in this election in order to stay in power.

Trudeau, 47, is seeking a second term as prime minister and Scheer, 40, is his leading opponent.

Rob Gillies, The Associated Press