Anti-sex-ed curriculum activists form new political party in Ontario

A demonstrator holds up a sign while gathering with others in front of Queen's Park to protest against Ontario's new sex education curriculum in Toronto on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
A demonstrator holds up a sign while gathering with others in front of Queen's Park to protest against Ontario's new sex education curriculum in Toronto on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

TORONTO — Anti-sex-ed activists in Ontario have formed a new political party and are running candidates in the province’s two ongoing byelections.

Queenie Yu, who ran as an independent candidate in the recent Scarborough-Rouge River byelection on a platform opposing the Liberal government’s updated sex-ed curriculum, is behind the new party.

She is running as the Stop the New Sex Ed Agenda candidate in Niagara West-Glanbrook, while Elizabeth de Viel Castel is running as the party’s candidate in Ottawa-Vanier. Those votes are set for Nov. 17.

READ MORE: Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown accused of muzzling candidate on sex ed

The goal is not necessarily to win a seat, which is highly unlikely, but to send a message that opposition to the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is still alive, Yu said.

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“Even though I’m not able to offer supporters a party that can form government, the point is that democracy isn’t just about winning seats in the legislature, it’s about being a voice for the public,” she said.

“When you look at the Green party, they’ve never won a seat but people vote for them because of what they stand for.”

READ MORE: Ontario Progressive Conservatives tried to fundraise off of pledge to ‘scrap’ sex-ed

The new curriculum included updates such as warnings about online bullying and sexting, but protesters have taken issue with discussions of same-sex marriage, masturbation and gender identity.

The issue dominated the Scarborough-Rouge River campaign after Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s office released a letter promising that he would scrap the curriculum, then backtracked on it days later.

Brown angered social conservatives by eventually saying he supported the curriculum and the public split has left them looking for a new political home. But Yu believes her new party could also garner support from some who traditionally vote Liberal, such as people in the Chinese community.

READ MORE: Conservative leadership hopeful compares Ontario sex-ed to residential schools

“My new party isn’t going to take away votes from any particular party, really, but many Progressive Conservative supporters, they no longer trust Patrick Brown, so they’re looking for another party to support, but there are also many Chinese, for example, who normally vote Liberal, who would also vote for the party because the Chinese have traditional family values,” Yu said.

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Yu finished fourth in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection, with 575 votes.

In Niagara West-Glanbrook, social conservatives are accusing Brown of muzzling the party’s 19-year-old candidate, who campaigned on a socially conservative platform, but Brown now says the teen supports his position.

READ MORE: Ontario PC leader ‘was prepared’ to say he’d scrap sex-ed curriculum: email

Sam Oosterhoff defeated the PC party president and a vice-president to win the nomination, but has not given interviews to provincial politics reporters to clarify his sex-ed position.

The group Parents as First Educators, which said it had discussions with Brown’s office during the Scarborough campaign about commitments he could make to appease sex-ed opponents, complains that it’s unclear where Oosterhoff stands on the issue.

Brown insists the teen’s victory was “absolutely not” revenge from social conservatives who are upset over his sex-ed flip-flop.

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