St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative candidate Michael Cooper must clearly state his position on women’s reproductive rights

Posted on October 03, 2015, 2:54 pm
7 mins

PHOTOS: St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative candidate Michael Cooper, centre, with former Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, left, and Employment Minister Pierre Pollievre in a photo grabbed from Mr. Cooper’s campaign website. Below: A shot of Mr. Cooper snapped on my doorstep when he turned up campaigning for the Conservative nomination.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative candidate Michael Cooper has received the full endorsement of the radical anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition for opposing women’s reproductive rights.

According to the Campaign Life website, Mr. Cooper has indicated he is opposed to a woman’s right to have an abortion in all circumstances – including those in which pregnancy is caused by rape or the health or life of the mother is at risk.

CooperWhen Campaign Life’s endorsements of Mr. Cooper and other Conservative candidates were revealed on Thursday by political blogger Dave Cournoyer and the Press Progress news site, Conservative supporters online were quick to strike back with the claim there was nothing the 31-year-old single man could do to prevent any group from endorsing him.

However, the Campaign Life website states that, in Mr. Cooper’s case, he responded to the group’s questionnaire, indicating his answer was “no,” to the question, “Are there any circumstances under which you believe a woman should have access to abortion?”

Unlike most of the other nine Alberta Conservatives who received Campaign Life’s “green light” endorsement on the basis of their legislative voting records – “green light means the person supports CLC principles and is rated as supportable,” the site explains – Mr. Cooper sent back the group’s questionnaire on Sept. 24, 2014, shortly before he announced his intention to seek the Conservative nomination in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding.

Mr. Cooper’s answers also indicate he believes life begins at conception and that, if elected, he would “support all legislative or policy proposals that would result in a meaningful increase of respect and protection for unborn human life,” Campaign Life says.

The site also states, significantly, that “Cooper has been actively involved in the pro-life movement for many years and is known to CLC leaders.”

Based on Campaign Life’s commentary, Mr. Cooper’s position on reproductive rights is considerably more extreme than those taken by most candidates for the U.S. Republican Party, which since Richard Nixon’s day has become the home to the so-called pro-life position on access to abortion in the United States.

Among the current crop of Republican presidential nomination candidates, for example, only Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, who has since dropped out of the race, took a no-exceptions position on abortion that included cases of rape, incest, and where the life or health of the mother is at risk.

Mr. Cooper, who has been active in Conservative politics since his early teens, is widely believed to hold strong social conservative and libertarian views on a variety of issues important to the Conservative Party’s right-wing fringe. But, if so, he has mostly been careful not to leave a written record of his opinions. There is no reference to his position on reproductive rights on his campaign website or Facebook page.

Mr. Cooper joined the Conservative Party at 14 and ran a generously self-financed, if ultimately unsuccessful, bid to become a member of St. Albert City Council when he was 19. In addition to his relationship to Campaign Life, he has worked closely on his campaign with a representative of the virulently anti-union Merit Contractors group.

But other than press clippings in which a 19-year-old Mr. Cooper, then associated with the Canadian Alliance Party, excoriated former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada prime minister Joe Clark for being too willing to collect taxes and intervene in the economy, until now the written record of the candidate’s actual views has been very sparse.

For its part, Campaign Life has expanded its activism from merely opposing women’s reproductive rights to opposing gay-straight alliances, transgender students’ rights and sex education in schools.

No doubt Mr. Cooper would like to continue to fly under the radar of most voters in the riding on his apparently extreme position on reproductive rights. Indeed, not surprisingly, Mr. Cooper was “unavailable” to answer questions from the local newspaper.

Mr. Cooper’s campaign manager, former St. Albert Mayor Richard Plain, tried to have it both ways, telling the St. Albert Gazette’s reporter that Mr. Cooper’s opinions are sincere but won’t affect government policy. At least, that is, until they do!

Dr. Plain’s bobbing and weaving notwithstanding, women’s reproductive rights are too important and have potential impacts too serious for voters in this riding to permit Mr. Cooper to avoid the issue. By merit of  his responses to Campaign Life’s questions, he owes residents of St. Albert-Edmonton – of which I am one – a clear and full explanation of his views on abortion rights.

He needs to be asked this question when he appears on residents’ doorsteps, and if – unlike many Conservative candidates in the current federal election – he chooses to turn up at any more all-candidates’ meetings. Other candidates should be asked the same questions, of course.

If Mr. Cooper continues to dodge the question, the significance of that should be obvious to voters who support the reproductive rights of all women.

Regardless, this will only be an issue if residents of St. Albert-Edmonton make it an issue.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

16 Comments to: St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative candidate Michael Cooper must clearly state his position on women’s reproductive rights

  1. Liam

    October 3rd, 2015

    Ahh! I wish I’d known this when he was on my doorstep a couple weeks ago. Too bad, but I suspect he wouldn’t have stuck around to debate the finer points of reproductive rights with a lowly NDP supporter like myself anyway.

    Reply
  2. Ryan

    October 3rd, 2015

    Why is it even notable that Cooper is single? What bearing does that have on his ability to do a job?

    Reply
  3. MAGGIE

    October 4th, 2015

    So Cooper has respect for and a desire to protect the unborn. It’s a pity that he and his fellow travellers don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the actual baby once it’s actually born.

    Reply
  4. Judy

    October 4th, 2015

    Mr. Cooper is an extreme devout Catholic and minister at the St. Albert Catholic Church. Of course he has extreme views on reproductive rights, gays, transgenders, unions, etc. He is led by religious views which is extremely dangerous in government. Keep church & state separate.

    Reply
    • adam

      October 4th, 2015

      Hostility to unions isn’t usual among Catholics – so I think he gets his right-wing views on unions from another direction. What do you mean by minister at the St. Albert Catholic Church? No doubt he plays a prominent role, but “minister” is a term I associate with Protestant clergy. Perhaps you mean “church leader” or ‘plays a prominent role at St. Albert Catholic Church.”

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        October 5th, 2015

        Judy: Adam is correct that minister is a term most often associated with ordained Protestant clergy. Mr. Cooper’s online biography states that he is a lector in the St. Albert Parish, that is, someone who reads the scripture during the mass. The Wikipedia says of this ecclesiastical position: “The Roman Catholic Church has a rite by which it formally institutes men who may or may not be studying for the priesthood or diaconate as lectors.” Not being a Roman Catholic, I can’t tell you if everyone who reads from the scriptures during a Catholic service is a lector or not. I’m sure, however, that someone will enlighten us. Adam is also right that the Roman Catholic church is not institutionally hostile to unions. Nor was Protestantism historically so. In his 1891 encyclical Rerum novarum, Pope Leo XIII specifically recognized the right of working people to join unions and bargain collectively, and this document has become one of the foundations of Catholic social teaching. The Methodist Church played a pivotal role in the British trade union movement, which is why to this day, many English union locals are known as “Chapels.” Much of Protestantism, alas, has nowadays been polluted by neoliberal economic doctrines quite contrary to the teachings of Jesus, including hostility to collective bargaining. So I agree with Adam also that, wherever Mr. Cooper’s economic beliefs come from, it is not fair to blame the Catholic church for them.

        Reply
      • Judy

        October 5th, 2015

        He is a Eurcharist minister in the Catholic Church which means he passes out the body of Christ. It is a revered position in the CC. The church has other ministries as well.

        Reply
  5. Guy

    October 4th, 2015

    Judy, a person’s views on unions have nothing to do with separation of church and state. It’s a well-established fact that unions keep society down and funnel dues from workers to the top.

    Reply
    • Curious Georgy

      October 4th, 2015

      Do you have any references to back up this claim or is this just more fury signifying nothing.

      Reply
    • Adam

      October 4th, 2015

      That is a widely repeated falsehood, not a well-known fact. In fact, union jobs generally pay better than non-union jobs. Even workers in non-union workplaces have their wages raised by nearby unionized workforces.

      But, you are right, it has nothing to do with the division.

      Reply
    • CovKid

      October 5th, 2015

      “It’s a well-established fact that unions keep society down and funnel dues from workers to the top.”

      Where would your evidence be that “unions keep society down”?

      It’s people like you who give the Koch brothers and their ilk the impetus to transfer as much wealth as possible from us to the 1%.

      Reply
  6. Scott

    October 4th, 2015

    Judy, religious freedom is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights. Are you saying that the 30%+ of Catholics in Alberta should be disallowed from running for office?

    Reply
  7. Aron

    October 4th, 2015

    This is the individual running in St. Albert for the Conservatives. If you have any friends voting conservative in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding, please please PLEASE encourage them to re-elect the other right wing candidate in Brent Rathgeber. The devil you know, friends.

    He has made a point of not having his views publicized anywhere but in high school he would run around with petitions against gay marriage, abortion and had a pro-two tier health care platform that he was carrying around to the students.

    Please do not let this man represent our riding.

    Reply
  8. Aron

    October 4th, 2015

    Also, thanks for writing on this David. I tried to inform the local NDP chapter of this and urged them to at least pass on knowledge of this information, but I heard absolutely no response. The fact that he will likely be the next riding MP is devastating for an area of Alberta that has typically been at least somewhat progressive.

    Reply
  9. Athabascan

    October 4th, 2015

    Guy, It’s also a well-established fact the Harpecons also keep society down by funneling taxes from worker to the top.

    Perhaps, the Harpercon government should be outlawed.

    Reply
  10. Jason

    October 5th, 2015

    Hey, David:

    The night this came out we watched Garnett Genuis, Conservstive candidate in Sherwood Park Fort Saskatchewan, have his answers go from more extreme than Mr. Cooper’s (Mr. Cooper, at least, does not scow to attempt to legislate on these matters), to “no response.”

    Mr. Genuis has not explained his position on the topic, or explained how his answers came to be changed on the website.

    I, for one, think that you in St. Albert are comparatively lucky, that at least what little your candidate says on the matter has not been changed overnight. It is one thing to not answer, it is another to answer, but not explain. Our candidate answers, and then the answer changes to a non-answer, and he does not explain either the answer or the change.

    Reply

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