POLITICS
11/30/2019 20:19 EST | Updated 11/30/2019 20:56 EST

Conservative Deputy Leader Leona Alleslev Equates Pride Parades To St. Patrick’s Day

She was trying to defend Andrew Scheer from criticism for not attending Pride events.

Conservative Party deputy leader Leona Alleslev apologized for comments she made on CBC Radio comparing LGBTQ Pride parades to St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Alleslev, who was appointed deputy leader earlier this week, was asked about Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s view on LGTBQ marriage while on the CBC Radio show “The House” Saturday.

She responded saying the Conservative Party “prides itself” on being “tolerant of all beliefs.”

She was later asked if backlash against Scheer’s lack of public support for the LGTBQ community signals “that there’s no room for inclusion or tolerance at the most senior level?”

Chris Wattie / Reuters
Leona Alleslev speaks during Question Period in the House of Commonsin Ottawa, Ontario on Sept. 17, 2018. 

“I think that that’s obviously his choice and we live in a country where that’s his choice,” Alleslev said.””Have we asked anyone if they’ve marched in a St. Patrick’s Day parade?”

Host Chris Hall asked her to clarify her statement, pointing out a St. Patrick’s Day parade is “a little different” than a Pride parade.

“I think people can advocate for certain things without having to do it publicly,” she said.

The Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP was appointed deputy leader to signal Scheer’s intention to win more support in Ontario. She apologized Saturday afternoon.

 

The apology came after she faced swift backlash on social media. Alleslev’s comments were flagged by Conservative strategist Melissa Lantsman.

Conservative Party insider Jamie Ellerton also responded to Alleslev’s claims by compiling a Twitter thread of all the times the Tory leader has publicly celebrated another group.

“The new Deputy Leader’s remarks on The House this morning make it harder for Andrew Scheer to unite the Party and grow its appeal to Canadians,” he told HuffPost Canada in an email.

Lantsman and Ellerton had penned an op-ed in the Globe and Mail about the party’s stance on LGBTQ rights in the Globe and Mail earlier this month. 

“For months, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has struggled to deviate from a script that reluctantly accepts marriage equality as the “settled” law of the land,” they wrote. “His visible discomfort in answering questions relating to LGBTQ people and their place in society only amplifies this reluctance.”

During the interview, Hall referenced the editorial.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Andrew Scheer walks with Leona Alleslev in Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Sept. 17, 2018.

“What was the signal he sent when he looked so uncomfortable being asked about same-sex marriage?” asked Hall. “When he was asked why he never marched in the pride parade?”

Alleslev said she couldn’t speak for Scheer, but said his “beliefs do have a place in Canada just as much as everyone else does.”

Rachel Curran, a former advisor to Stephen Harper, also appeared on The House and responded to Alleslev’s comments.

“There should be no equivocation around this,” she said. “There is no room for the Conservative Party for anti-gay bigotry.”

Scheer’s future as Tory leader

 Alleslev was on the radio show todiscuss Scheer’s future as the leader of the Conservative Party. An external review of Scheer’s leadership and campaign run is being conducted former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird. 

Scheer’s fate is set to be decided at the party’s biannual convention in April, where there will be a leadership review. Party members expressed that they might have failed to address the LGBTQ population during the federal election.” 

“We need to be actively championing them,” said Calgary MP Michelle Rempel after the first post-election Conservative caucus.

Alleslev was appointed deputy leader on Nov. 28. She crossed the floor in September 2018, having previously been a Liberal MP since 2015.

With files from Canadian Press.