When Heather Leung was asked by the NOW about her views on social issues before the 2018 Burnaby city election, she didn’t want to talk about it.
After several tries, NOW reporter Kelvin Gawley was finally able to get Leung on the phone in September 2018 to ask about her past opposition to a Burnaby school board policy designed to prevent discrimination against gay, lesbian and queer staff and students in Burnaby schools.
Leung served as the spokesperson for Burnaby Parents’ Voice, a group formed to oppose the gay- and transgender-positive policy.
Her work with that group led to this appalling statement at a board meeting in 2011: “What is being recommended in this draft is a deliberate and systemic strategy to indoctrinate our children with a controversial moral teaching that should be left for families to decide on and wrestle through.”
I say appalling because today there is an effort to oppose B.C.’s SOGI 123 resource materials that word “indoctrinate” gets lobbed around like a grenade way too much.
The word accuses schools off trying to brainwash children, instead of what’s really happening - making schools more inclusive and protecting LGBTQ students from horrifying bullying.
Couple this past with Leung also signing the nomination papers for anti-SOGI activist Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson for her Burnaby school board candidacy and we felt it was a fair topic to get her to clariy.
When asked, Leung repeatedly refused to say whether she continued to disagree with SOGI policies. Her view was that the party banner she was running for council under – the Burnaby First Coalition - had no official stance on the issue. Her feeling was such social issues weren’t relevant to civic politics, even though councils do make decisions on things like funding for Pride events.
Even if you agree that her past social views were not relevant in civic politics, Leung can’t make that same argument now.
Leung has been confirmed as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour in the upcoming federal election.
And, in case you didn’t know, social issues are a huge part of being a Member of Parliament.
She can’t hide from the questions now, although based on recent history, I’m sure she will try.
I’m astounded that the Conservatives choose her as their candidate – not because of her stances on social issues (she’s really against the sale of marijuana, despite it being a legal product) because those seem in line with the party.
No, I’m astounded because she seems like a weak campaigning in an election that will require someone dynamic.
Leung will be facing off in debates and on the campaign trail against incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech, a terrific public speaker and longtime Burnaby politician Svend Robinson, one of the most gifted public speakers you’ll ever hear. I haven’t heard Green candidate Amita Kuttner speak, but she’s an astrophysicist who just successfully defended her doctoral thesis so I’m sure she can easily handle this.
They are likely going to wipe the floor with Leung at the debates and on the campaign trail.
When the NOW was trying to set up that interview with Leung last fall, the BFC brass wanted to do it by email because they said English was a struggle for her.
Now she’s going to face the debating version of the 1927 Yankees and expect to do well?
Don’t make me laugh.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.