POLITICS
10/04/2019 18:46 EDT | Updated 10/04/2019 21:19 EDT

Conservative Party Candidate Heather Leung Dropped After Homophobic Video Emerges

A representative of the party says Heather Leung will no longer represent the Conservatives.

Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party formal portrait of former Burnaby North-Seymour candidate Heather Leung.

UPDATE: In a statement Friday evening, the Conservative Party of Canada said Leung will no longer be representing the party. 

“Recent media reports have brought to light offensive comments made by Ms. Leung saying ‘homosexuals recruit’ children, and describing the sexual orientation of the LGBTQ community as ‘perverted.’

“There is no tolerance in the Conservative Party for those types of offensive comments.”

A video that surfaced of a Vancouver-area Conservative Party candidate claiming that LGBTQ people attempt to “recruit” kids, has other candidates calling on leader Andrew Scheer to dump her from the party. 

The 2011 video  resurfaced Friday by the Vancouver Sun shows Burnaby North-Seymour Conservative candidate Heather Leung warning that the Burnaby School Board was “promoting” homosexual lifestyles by introducing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) policy. 

“They can disguise themselves as angels of light to promote anti-bullying environments in school, but instead they are promoting homosexual, transexual, all kinds of homosexual acts to children,” she says in the video. “So I urge [parents] to keep an eye on their school board. 

“These homosexual people, they cannot reproduce. They recruit more people into their camp. So this is not fair. They are our children, they are not their children. They do not have the right to push our children into their camp.”

WATCH: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s 2005 controversial comments on same-sex marriage. Story continues below. 

According to poll aggregator 338canada.com, Leung is projected to be in a tight race for Burnaby North-Seymour with Liberal candidate Terry Beech. NDP candidate Svend Robinson is not far behind. The site bases its projections on demographics, voting history and current polls. 

Past controversy

This isn’t the first time Leung has come under fire for controversial statements around LGBTQ issues, conversion therapy and abortion. The Province newspaper reported that the party she was running with, when she was a 2014 school board candidate, was spreading a rumour that other candidates would allow schools to inject students with a serum that would turn them homosexual.

Leung is also staunchly anti-abortion and has been actively embraced by pro-life groups for her view that aborition should be illegal, even in the case of rape. She also has appeared in videos claiming that LGBTQ conversion therapy — a discredited practice of trying to change the identities of LGBTQ people — works.

WATCH: What is conversion therapy? Story continues below. 

Leung has not attended any local candidate debates and has so far dodged media requests, including one from HuffPost Canada Friday, around her controversial past. She finally broke her media silence to the local North Shore News newspaper on Thursday at a mixer, but did not explain her past views or the video.

“I’m keeping my head down to meet my constituents in my riding,” Leung said to explain why she hasn’t responded to media requests. “Every day I go out door knocking. I meet them face to face with undivided attention. I’m hearing from them one on one.”

HuffPost Canada attempted to reach Leung at her campaign office Friday but the doors were locked and the lights were off.

Melanie Woods/HuffPost Canada
Conservative candidate Heather Leung's Burnaby campaign office, photographed closed and locked with the lights off around 3 p.m. on Friday Oct. 4.

Calls for resignation

Burnaby North-Seymour NDP candidate Svend Robinson called for Leung’s resignation Friday morning.

Robinson, who is trying to stage a political comeback this year, was the area’s MP from 1979 to 2004. He was also the first federal politician to come out as gay while in office. 

“This is the Conservative candidate in this constituency, in Burnaby North-Seymour, who is speaking out in this deeply offensive and outrageous way,” Robinson said. 

He referenced Leung’s stated support for LGBTQ conversion therapy, a scientifically discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation. 

“This leads to pain, this leads to attempted suicide, and this leads to suicide of young people,” he said. “This is about a person who wants to represent our community as a Member of Parliament, saying that it’s ok to use conversion therapies, saying that the LGBTQ community is a community of perverted people that live perverted lifestyles.”

If Scheer has a non hypocritical bone in his body, he has to denounce Leung for her views and drop her as a candidate.Green Party candidate Amita Kuttner

Green Party candidate Amita Kuttner, who recently came out as non-binary and pansexual, also issued a statement to local newspaper Burnaby Now calling for Leung’s resignation.

“Leung’s views explicitly seek to erase the identities of non-binary people like me,” they wrote. “If Scheer has a non hypocritical bone in his body, he has to denounce Leung for her views and drop her as a candidate.”

In a statement to HuffPost Canada, Liberal candidate Terry Beech also condemned Leung. 

“I believe it is disqualifying for anyone who seeks public office to reject the humanity and dignity of their LGBTQ2+ constituents,” Beech wrote. “Andrew Scheer is asking to be prime minister for all Canadians and our community deserves to know why he still supports her.” 

Scheer responds

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was asked about the video during a campaign stop in Toronto Friday morning. 

“I haven’t seen the particular video you’re referencing,” Scheer told reporters. “Of course our party stands for inclusiveness and the rights of all Canadians, including LGBT Canadians.”

At the time he did not say the party would drop Leung from the slate.

The deadline to register candidates has passed, meaning if the Tories were to drop Leung they would be unable to replace her. 

Not the first controversy this year

This is not the first controversy for Leung of this campaign period.

At the beginning of the writ period, her constituency office came under fire for sharing a meme showing comedian Rick Mercer with the false quote “vote Conservative.” After Mercer called out the meme, it was taken down.

It followed another earlier meme that seemed to suggest Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau commit suicide.

In a statement to HuffPost Canada at the time, a Conservative party spokesperson said that despite them being shared by the official Burnaby North-Seymour Conservative Party Constituency Association, the person who posted the memes was not associated with Leung or her campaign.