A controversial candidate in Burnaby North—Seymour says she’s “running independently” after being turfed by the Conservatives due to homophobic comments.
Heather Leung’s candidacy with the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) was revoked on Friday over statements she made years ago in which she said LGBTQ2 people “recruit” kids and live a “perverted lifestyle.”
But just a day later, Leung was out campaigning — and still using CPC signs. Her campaign manager, Travis Trost, agreed it’s a “weird” situation.
“I can understand why people are confused because, honestly, I found this confusing as well,” Trost said.
The source of the confusion, Trost says, is that Elections Canada told him the ballots have already been printed and that the Conservative Party name will appear alongside Leung’s on Oct. 21.
As a result, Trost said Leung’s CPC signs are being put up so as not to confuse voters.
When asked if Elections Canada specifically told Trost that the Leung campaign could continue to use CPC signage, he didn’t directly answer.
“She is listed as Conservative on the ballot, and the signs represent the way voters will see her when they vote,” he said.
“Again, we are aware of the national party’s attitude to Heather, but we respect what Elections Canada has told us about ‘Conservative’ being placed next to her name.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said Leung has been told she is not allowed to use the CPC logo.
“Ms. Leung is not our candidate. Ms. Leung has been told she cannot use our party’s name or logo or represent herself as the Conservative candidate,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Global News.
“She will remain on the ballot as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate — because we’re past the deadline. But she is not receiving any support from the party.”
Trost told Global News on Friday evening that he hadn’t received that communication. He didn’t immediately clarify whether the statement would signal a change in Leung’s usage of CPC signs.
Just hours later, however, a statement posted to Leung’s website clarified she is “running independently.”
“I am happy to announce that, with the support of many constituents in the Burnaby North—Seymour riding, I am looking forward to run independently as their candidate. If elected, running independently means I can vote the will of my constituents regardless of party policy,” reads the statement on Leung’s website.
“I want to continue to thank the people of Burnaby North—Seymour and all my hard-working campaign volunteers for their support and dedication. I promise to work hard to finish the race.”
Trost told Global News the language used in that statement is deliberate.
“We deliberately chose the adverb ‘independently’ rather than the noun ‘Independent’ because the noun has become a technical term to represent someone with no political affiliation on the ballot,” Trost said.
RIDING PROFILE: Burnaby North—Seymour
Trost said in the coming days, Leung is working to remind voters in the Burnaby North—Seymour riding that she is an option for them and that she will do her best to be more available to the media.
Leung has avoided media for most of the election campaign and has refused prior Global News requests for an interview.
“She has indicated to me selective media works best for her, and I intend to respect her wishes and I also will encourage her to communicate with you,” Trost said.
Leung said in her statement that if elected, she will stand up for free speech, equality and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Also campaigning in the Burnaby North-Seymour riding are Liberal candidate Terry Beech, Green candidate Amita Kuttner, NDP candidate Svend Robinson, Independent candidate Robert Taylor, Libertarian candidate Lewis Clarke Dahlby and People’s Party candidate Rocky Dong.