NEWS

Hudak denies he misrepresented parents group

09/15/2011 02:47 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:09 EST

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is shrugging off accusations his campaign used a parents group for political gain while touting the Tory plan for a public sex offender registry.

While making a campaign stop Wednesday in Leamington, Hudak announced his party's plan to create a public, online registry for sex offenders. He made the announcement alongside a group of "concerned parents" in Leamington.

As CBC's Genevieve Tomney reports, Hudak chose to make the announcement in the small community located about 50 kilometres southeast of Windsor for a reason. Over the summer, people in Leamington learned that a convicted child sex offender was living in a group home near a neighbourhood school.

At that time, a group of parents organized pickets outside the group home and demanded the convicted sex offender move out of their neighbourhood.

Now that same group is claiming they were called by Tim Hudak's campaign and asked to appear alongside him at Wednesday's campaign stop. The group claims they refused to participate, and said the people who appeared with Hudak at Wednesday's photo op were not part of their group, nor did they recognize them.

CBC cameras covering Wednesday's event captured Hudak saying the parents who stood with him had "fought back" after learning a convicted child sex offender was living near their neighbourhood school.

On Thursday Hudak was asked about accusations he used the parents group for political gain. He said the people who appeared beside him on Wednesday were Leamington residents and that two of them had grandchildren attending the school where the convicted sex offender was living.

"The parents I [was] with are leaders on their school councils, grandparents that had kids at that school where the sex offender was living next door," he said. "This is the issue here. I believe that the right of public safety for our kids and our grandkids should come ahead of the privacy of sexual predators."

Hudak then went on to decry Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty's stance on sex offenders.

"Why is Dalton McGuinty allowing the right of privacy of sexual predators to trump safety for our kids? That's the important question," Hudak said.

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