Tim Hudak follows in the path of Stephen Harper and distances himself from abortion debate

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak is following in the path of his federal counterpart Stephen Harper and staying out of the abortion debate.

An article from 2009 resurfaced last week on the Association for Reformed Political Action website, which included an email written by a Hudak leadership campaign staffer, that stated, "(Hudak) is pro-life and has signed petitions calling for abortion defunding and conscience legislation."

Hudak, later questioned by reporters at a press conference at Queen's Park, said he "may have" signed petitions in his riding calling to end abortion funding in the past, but would follow Harper's lead and leave the issue alone if elected Oct. 6.

"Let me be clear: we are not reopening this debate," he insisted. "Just like the federal Parliament, we would not be reopening that issue."

In his blog, Ottawa Citizen columnist Ken Gray (aka 'The Bulldog') calls Hudak "gutless" for avoiding the debate.

"Odd that Hudak can address the pressing issue of promoting the sale of buck-a-beer, but not abortion," he wrote in reference to Hudak's idea to allow brewers to go back to selling 24 discount beers for $24.

"Oh, it's about votes you say? Well, that explains it. Election is coming on Oct. 6."

Indeed, politicians do avoid the abortion issue around election time.

Link Byfield, a longtime social conservative activist and current provincial candidate for the Wildrose Party in Alberta, said he understands why political people don't engage themselves in such topics.

"Politicians are not there to be imaginative or perceptive; they're there to be popular. Whatever makes people angry they're going to avoid," he told the National Post in April.

"Harper has made it abundantly and compellingly clear that the social conservative agenda is not to be contemplated in his government and not to be advocated or advanced. And he will have come to this conclusion because he has seen it necessary to get centre voters."

Not discussing his views on abortion may be gutless, but for Hudak it's politically shrewd.

(CP Photo)