The Conservative Party of Canada has dropped Heather Leung as their candidate in the Burnaby North—Seymour riding, after video interviews surfaced in which she made homophobic comments.
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 “Heather Leung is no longer representing the Conservative Party of Canada in the riding of Burnaby North—Seymour,” the party said in a news release. “Recent media reports have brought to light offensive comments made by Ms. Leung saying ‘homosexuals recruit’ children, and describing the sexual orientation of the LGBTQ community as ‘perverted.’”
Leung has not responded to a request for comment.
Conservative spokesperson Rudy Hesny said the decision came after the party had time to review Leung’s comments.
Hesny said the Conservatives intend to send a letter to Elections Canada informing the agency that Leung no longer represents the party, but that it may be too late to have her party affiliation removed from the ballots, which may have already been printed.
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 interviews resurfaced earlier this week.
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.
Scheer’s decision Friday echoes that of his predecessor, Stephen Harper, who set the precedent during the 2015 election when he stripped membership from an Ontario candidate who called homosexuality “unnatural,” but it also serves to push back against critics who have called the Conservative leader anti-gay.
Scheer has refused during the campaign to say whether his views have changed since 2005 when he opposed same-sex marriage.
He has promised, however, to protect LGBTQ rights.
“There is no tolerance in the Conservative Party for those types of offensive comments,” the Conservatives said.
Hesny said that the party’s decision Friday reflected Scheer’s vision for Canada, laid out in a keynote speech delivered last May.
“I find the notion that one’s race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation would make anyone in any way superior or inferior to anybody else absolutely repugnant,” Scheer said then. “And if there’s anyone who disagrees with that, there’s the door. You are not welcome here.”