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Former USMC president criticizes SMC magazine cover of pro-choice federal minister

SMC alum McKenna featured, David Mulroney cites Roman Catholic values in criticism
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McKenna was featured on the cover of SMC’s alumni magazine. COURTESY OF CHATHAM HOUSE/CC FLICKR
McKenna was featured on the cover of SMC’s alumni magazine. COURTESY OF CHATHAM HOUSE/CC FLICKR

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, a pro-choice politician, was the centre of criticism after being featured on the cover of the Summer 2019 issue of St. Michael’s — the University of St. Michael’s College (SMC) alumni magazine.

SMC is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes abortion under any circumstance. This was the same position that David Mulroney, the former president of SMC, took when criticizing McKenna in an article on LifeSiteNews, an anti-abortion publication.

McKenna, an SMC graduate, was featured in her alma mater’s alumni magazine for her accomplishments in a piece called “Living your Passion.” Mulroney’s frustration with the feature stems from McKenna’s public stance on abortion.

McKenna is publicly pro-choice, and often expresses her views on social media. According to Mulroney, these opinions directly conflict with Catholic values.

“When an alumna is invited to address a theology class it is because the university believes that she has some relevant insights to share. It becomes problematic when the alumna has a very significant role in taking actions that run seriously counter to Catholic teachings,” Mulroney commented to The Varsity.

While Mulroney was under the impression that McKenna was addressing a theology class, she was in fact there to meet with environmental studies and eco-theology students — she was not invited to address any classes.

Mulroney further expressed that McKenna’s status and accomplishments should not be a factor in her selection for the magazine cover. Rather, the magazine should feature someone who “exemplifies the best of what a university stands for.”

Despite SMC’s decision, Mulroney believes that “a Catholic University must be faithful to both [worlds]. It encourages the free exchange of ideas, but is unafraid to engage its students in what constitutes a good life.” This quality, he believes, is lacking “at a time when secular society, including secular universities are increasingly intolerant of alternative perspectives.”

SMC Director of Communications, Laurie Morris, wrote in an email to The Varsity that the college “always welcome[s] and encourage[s] feedback from our community on all articles and alumni profiles.”

Morris declined to make any further comments on McKenna, citing inappropriate timing in relation to the upcoming federal election.

McKenna, who faces regular criticism for her work as an MP and minister, now has a security detail — which is uncommon for federal ministers. In an interview with the CBC, McKenna said that, while these threats have been ongoing since her election, in person confrontations have gotten worse only recently.

Editor’s Note (September 17, 1:37 pm): Article was amended to clarify that McKenna was not invited to address any classes at SMC.