Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen in hot water following controversial podcast comments

Cole Brenna
Reprinted with permission from Town & Country Today

Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen found himself in hot water after he expressed his viewpoint on gay marriage and abortion on a podcast with a Liberal Party colleague late last month.

“I would vote gay marriage down,” said Viersen in response to a hypothetical yes/no question from Ontario MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who hosts the podcast Uncommons. The podcast was released on May 31.

Viersen stressed his social conservative stance on a variety of topics, saying he supports Premier Danielle Smith’s transgender policies and wanted to criminalize cannabis possession if given the chance. He caught the attention of Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre when he weighed in on abortion and gay marriage however, expressing viewpoints that go against the party line.

Poilievre was quick to distance himself from Viersen’s views, saying they go against the official party policy outlined in the party policy book. In a June 3 statement, Poilievre swore to uphold gay marriage and reproductive rights if he were elected Prime Minister.

“Canadians are free to love and marry who they choose. Same-sex marriage is legal, and it will remain legal when I am prime minister, full stop.”

The podcast started with talking about Viersen’s private members bill, Bill C-270, which intends to keep images of underage children and non-consenting adults out of commercial internet pornography. From there, Erskine-Smith asked Viersen about his abortion advocacy — Viersen said he has presented a petition to strengthen protections for fetuses to Parliament 19 times — and the two discussed the dichotomy between Viersen’s social conservative views and his role in a “big tent” party.

“I feel like I’m a valued member of the team and I’m happy to contribute when and where I’m needed,” he said.

On June 1, Viersen put out an apology on social media, where he stressed that his views are his own and don’t represent Poilievre or the Conservative Party.

“On these issues, the status quo will remain under a Conservative government. That is the reality,” wrote Viersen. “The leader has been extremely clear on that, both now and previously.”

During his discussion with Erskine-Smith, Viersen said Canada’s lack of a formal position on abortion was untenable.

“We’re the only country in the world with no pre-born protective rights,” said Viersen.

“I hope for the day when abortion is unthinkable.”

Erskine-Smith pushed Viersen to define what he envisioned when he talks about protective rights, but Viersen demurred.

“It would be a recognition of their humanity, and then it would be, ‘where does it flow from there?’” said Viersen.

Neither Viersen nor Erskine-Smith responded to requests for comment by press time.

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