The Conservative Party of Canada has dropped a Burnaby candidate over controversial comments that LGBTQ2 people “recruit” kids and her support for conversion therapy.
In a statement Friday night, the party said Heather Leung will no longer represent the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour, citing media reports about the offensive comments captured in a 2011 video taken by Burnaby local newspaper Burnaby Now.
“There is no tolerance in the Conservative Party for those types of offensive comments,” a party spokesperson said.
In the video, taken during protests over an LGBTQ2-friendly school board policy, Leung said activists were using anti-bullying initiatives as a cover for promoting “homosexual, transexual, all kinds of homosexual acts” to students.
“Because these homosexual people, they cannot reproduce the next generation, they recruit more people and more people into their camp. So this is not fair, they are our children, not their children,” she said.
“They do not have the right to push our children into their camp.”
A second, undated video also recently surfaced in which Leung touts a “successful” conversion therapy that allegedly convinced a woman that she was neither transgender nor gay, and in which she refers to LGBTQ2 people as living a “perverted lifestyle.”
None of the professional regulatory colleges in B.C. recognize conversion therapy as an appropriate or ethical treatment, and it has been condemned by the Canadian Psychological Association.
Global News has requested comment from Leung. Her campaign manager told Global News she plans to continue campaigning for the election.
Earlier Friday, a Conservative Party spokesperson said Leung was “focused on her door-knocking right now and will be unable to do an interview.”
Leung’s name will still appear on the ballot as the Conservative candidate, but the party said she will not receive any support from the Conservatives. If she wins the election, she will not be part of the Conservative caucus.
The deadline to name candidates for all parties was Monday, meaning the Conservatives will be unable to put forward a new candidate to replace Leung.
Leung has avoided media for most of the campaign, refusing prior Global News requests, and apparently granting a single media interview so far, with the North Shore News, telling the paper she’s focusing on door-knocking and speaking to constituents.
On Friday, NDP candidate Svend Robinson, who is gay, said Leung needed to pull out of the race, saying her comments could drive someone to take their own life.
“‘Perverted homosexual preferences,’ ‘perverted lifestyles.’ This is the Conservative candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour that is speaking out in this deeply offensive and outrageous way,” Robinson said.
“This candidate is actively supporting (conversion therapy) and is encouraging parents to advise their children that they can escape from the ‘evils’ of homosexuality, is telling young people that they can, in fact, change their sexual orientation. This leads to pain, this leads to attempted suicide, and this leads to suicide of young people.”
Green candidate Amita Kuttner, who identifies as non-binary, called Leung’s comments “disturbing.”
“I think that Scheer should disavow her as a candidate,” said Kuttner.
“I think the stuff that she’s been talking about, that we’ve now seen are her views, are things that should not be part of the discourse in this country anymore.”
Liberal candidate Terry Beech issued a statement saying Leung’s statements should be “disqualifying.”
“The people of Burnaby and North Vancouver have shown me, in the last four years as their MP, that they not only tolerate diversity but champion it and I believe they deserve a representative who feels the same,” he said.
“Andrew Scheer is asking to be Prime Minister for all Canadians and our community deserves to know why he continues to support her.”
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was asked Friday if he was aware of the “recruiting” video and whether he’d stand by the candidate.
“I haven’t seen this particular video you’re referencing,” Scheer said.
“Of course our party stands for inclusiveness and the rights of all Canadians, including LGBTQ Canadians, and will always do so.”
—With files from David Akin