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Canada Daphne Bramham: Scheer faces litmus test after call to ditch anti-gay B.C. candidate

12:16  05 october  2019
12:16  05 october  2019 Source:   vancouversun.com

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Everybody has their litmus tests . And we all make our compromises. Planned Parenthood volunteers in West Virginia are calling for Senator Joe Manchin, who is seeking “So Bernie has no problem supporting an anti -abortion candidate . Everybody has their litmus tests ,” he said.

A day after being dropped by the Conservative Party over past offensive remarks towards the LGBTQ2 community, a B . C . candidate is continuing to campaign — and her team says she’s not going anywhere. NDP candidate Svend Robinson, who is gay , said Leung’s comments referring to

a man wearing a suit and tie: NDP candidate Svend Robinson at his elections office in Burnaby.© Jason Payne NDP candidate Svend Robinson at his elections office in Burnaby.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Nearly four decades ago, Progressive Conservative Pat Carney had just been elected to Parliament and was the first Canadian politician to press for legislative changes prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It was 1981. Her Tory colleagues sat silent, ignoring both the issue and her bill. It failed.

Eleven years later, Kim Campbell — another Tory MP from Vancouver Centre tried to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect LGBTQ rights. Her bill never passed first reading.

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Burnaby, BC : OCTOBER 04, 2019 — NDP candidate Svend Robinson addresses the media Friday, October 4, 2019 at Earlier on Friday, Robinson, the NDP candidate in the riding, challenged Scheer to denounce Leung, strip her of the candidacy and take away her party membership after the video

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Finally in 1999, Ontario’s Conservative then-attorney general, Jim Flaherty, was the first to pass legislation that expanded the definition of spouse to include same-sex couples. He went on to become finance minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative cabinet.

The history is important because on Friday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was urged to dump the party’s candidate in the tightly contested Burnaby North—Seymour for describing homosexuality as “perverted” and for her support of the discredited conversion therapy.

Svend Robinson, the NDP candidate in that riding, challenged Scheer to denounce Heather Leung, strip her of the candidacy and take away her party membership after video interviews surfaced earlier this week.

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Robinson became Canada’s first openly gay MP in 1988, which resulted in death threats and the trashing of his constituency office. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he introduced at least five different private member’s bills aimed at amending Canadian laws to include same-sex marriage.

He said statements like Leung’s are hateful and hurtful, especially to vulnerable youth who are struggling with their identity.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera:  Heather Leung, Conservative candidate for Burnaby North—Seymour in the 2019 federal election.© Handout Heather Leung, Conservative candidate for Burnaby North—Seymour in the 2019 federal election.

In a video that appears to be from 2016, Leung said conversion therapy provides hope to those living “the perverted homosexual lifestyle.”

In a 2011 video interview with Burnaby NOW after the Burnaby school district was among the first in B.C. to approve a sexual orientation and gender identity policy known as SOGI, Leung repeated what Robinson called “the hateful trope that homosexuals recruit children.”

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Scheer could easily fall back on the precedent set during the 2015 election, when then-leader Harper stripped membership from an Ontario candidate who called homosexuality “unnatural.”

Asked about the videos Friday while campaigning in Ontario, Scheer said he had not seen them.

Last week, when I asked the Conservative leader about Leung’s support for conversion therapy, he replied: “I can assure you that our government will always stand up for LGBTQ Canadians and their fundamental human rights.”

But Scheer hasn’t always stood up for their rights and has refused during the campaign to say whether his views have changed since 2005 when he opposed same-sex marriage.

Unlike Harper, who discouraged social conservatives, Scheer likely wouldn’t be leader without them.

Anti-abortion groups such as RightNow and Coalition for Life not only support Scheer, they helped Leung and other like-minded candidates win nomination in several key B.C. ridings that the party hopes to take from the Liberals or New Democrats. Those include Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Port Moody—Coquitlam, Steveston—Richmond and Cloverdale—Langley City.

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Their views are far outside the mainstream. Leung not only abhors homosexuality, she favours banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

Tamara Jansen, the Cloverdale—Langley City candidate who made headlines last month for hosting blackface Sinterklaas parties, opposes abortion, SOGI and medically assisted dying. She’s a climate-change denier and a creationist.

In contrast, just five per cent of Canadians favour a complete ban on abortion, according to a July Research Co. poll, while 46 per cent of Canadians (54 per cent in Quebec) support it in all circumstances and 43 per cent say there should be some limits.

As for same-sex couples, one in 10 Canadians oppose legal recognition, according to another Research Co. survey done in August. That survey also found that only one in five are against SOGI policies for schools.

What Scheer does with Leung is a litmus test.

If his party is to win this election, he can’t alienate his base. But Conservatives also can’t win unless they can grow the party’s support in the final two weeks of the campaign, which they’ve not been able to do so far.

By tossing Leung and clarifying his personal views on same-sex marriage and how they may have evolved since 2005, Scheer could signal a willingness to lead a party — and potentially a government — in which progressive conservatives might once again feel at home.

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

Ex-Conservative B.C. candidate won’t apologize for anti-LGBTQ2 comments caught on video .
Burnaby North-Seymour hopeful Heather Leung is claiming she was simply misunderstood and that her comments were lost in translation.Instead, Burnaby North-Seymour hopeful Heather Leung is claiming she was simply misunderstood and that her comments were lost in translation, saying English is her third language.

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