A B.C. candidate dropped by the Conservatives over homophobic comments has declined to apologize for saying LGBTQ2 people “recruit” children and live a “perverted” lifestyle.
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.
“I did not intend an abrasive meaning when referring to the LGBTQ community,” she told Global News Thursday, reading from a prepared statement.
“I want to be clear that I intend to be respectful with those I don’t agree with. If there has been any misunderstanding and if anyone got hurt over my use of words, that was not my intention.”
When asked again whether she wanted to apologize for her comments, Leung repeated her earlier stance.
“It was not my intention to hurt anyone,” she said.
A 2011 video taken by Burnaby local newspaper Burnaby Now during protests over an LGBTQ2-friendly school board policy goes on to show Leung decrying anti-bullying initiatives 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 then.
Leung says those comments were made as a mother of three children in public school, and as someone who takes a strong stance in support of parental rights.
“The school board policy worried thousands of parents who felt that our parental rights were not respected and our voices were not heard,” she said. “I still stand by my views on parental rights.
“I support the universal declaration of human rights that parents have a prior right to chose what kind of education is given to their children,” she added.
But when it came to addressing specific language she used to describe LGBTQ2 people in reaction to the school board policy, Leung only focused on the word “perverted,” which she says was misinterpreted.
“The word ‘perverted’ I used in the interview simply meant ‘opposite direction,'” she said, referring to the Chinese meaning she says she intended.
Still running with Conservative signs
Leung’s name will still appear on the ballot in Burnaby North-Seymour as the Conservative candidate, as she was dropped after the nomination deadline.
But the party has made clear Leung will not receive any support. If she is elected on Oct. 21, she will not be part of the Conservative caucus.
Elections Canada has confirmed that Leung is still allowed to run as a candidate if her name is listed on the ballot.
Leung’s new campaign website states she is running “independently,” and promises to support a Conservative government “on motions of supply or confidence.”
Yet all throughout the riding, signs are still appearing with both Leung’s name and the Tory logo. Her campaign office remains full of Conservative signs and posters.
Leung did not respond to questions of whether that could mislead voters, pointing instead to the statements she’s received from Elections Canada.
“Elections Canada has informed me that the ballot has been printed with my name attached to Conservative, and that cannot be changed,” she said. “I am over 18 years old, I am a citizen, 183 constituents in my riding have signed off on my nomination. I fulfilled the requirement for being a candidate in this riding.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson told Global News earlier this week that Leung 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.
Leung’s campaign says it has not received that communication and has been unclear about whether the statement will lead to changes in their signage.
‘I try my best’
Leung says she isn’t hearing much about her recent controversy as she continues to knock on doors throughout the riding, saying people want to focus on the issues affecting them.
“Right now, there are three main issues: housing affordability, traffic between Burnaby and North Vancouver, and also people want the pipeline expansion built,” she said. “We have so many issues to talk about in this riding, so we should focus on electing a responsible government.”
If elected, Leung says she wants to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, along with supporting both free speech and equality.
She would not comment on whether she would find difficulty getting bills passed as an independent without Conservative support, however.
“We are wonderfully made equally and we are called to love one another,” she said. “I try my best, I keep my head down and do my campaign.”
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.
You can find out more about the riding here.
—With files from Catherine Urquhart and Srushti Gangdev