OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says a video of Andrew Scheer opposing same-sex marriage in a 2005 speech is an example of “disgusting prejudice” and why his party won’t “prop up” Conservatives if they win a minority government in the upcoming federal election.
The edited video, shared by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale Thursday, was from a Civil Marriage Act debate. It featured two clips of Scheer where he voiced his opposition by reciting a riddle attributed to Abraham Lincoln, and also claimed same-sex couples don’t have the “inherent feature” for marriage, which he described as a committment to the “natural procreation of children.”
“The resurfacing of Andrew Scheer’s disgusting prejudice against LGBTQI2S+ people and families is very painful for many Canadians,” Singh said in a statement. “We can’t trust Mr. Scheer or his caucus to champion the fundamental rights of Canadians.”
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Canada legalized same-sex marriage in July 2005, three months after Scheer made his speech in the House of Commons.
Scheer’s spokesman called the video “another desperation tactic” from the prime minister to “distract” voters ahead of a federal election, adding Liberal MPs have also opposed marriage equality in the past.
“Mr. Scheer supports same-sex marriage as defined in law and as prime minister will of course uphold it,” wrote Daniel Schow in an email.
“When this vote took place a decade and a half ago, Mr. Scheer voted the way several Liberals did, including some who currently sit in the Liberal caucus and are running for re-election.”
An email sent by the party Thursday afternoon mirrored the same language. It listed the names of 12 current Liberals MPs “who have voted against or opposed same-sex marriage” — including Goodale, who voted to uphold the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in 1999.
The email also noted that “many Canadians have had their perspectives changed” since the Civil Marriage Act debate.
Goodale did not respond directly to the Conservative’s personal attack nor commented on his previous voting record, but noted that general support for the LGBTQ2+ community has “evolved and grown” in the past 25 years.
“A prime minister must defend and protect the human rights of all Canadians,” Goodale said in a statement to HuffPost. He said the Conservative leader’s promise not to reverse equality is “not enough.”
“Mr. Scheer needs to help reinforce those gains. Participating in this weekend’s Pride celebration in Ottawa would be a good start,” he said.
The use of the old clips of Scheer, posted by a senior Liberal minister, contradicts comments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made last month.
Trudeau told The Intelligence, a podcast from The Economist, that he won’t use divisive issues to win votes and create a “polarized” election environment. “I’m not going to be looking for wedge issues,” he said.
Liberal MP Judy Sgro’s name was one of the 12 listed in the Conservative party email. She told HuffPost Canada that she “unreservedly support[s] and celebrate[s] the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
Sgro’s views have changed since 2003 when she told the Globe and Mail that she was against same-sex marriage. She said she’s proud to be a member of Trudeau’s Liberal party, led by a leader who “walks the walk” in advocating for LGBTQ2 rights.
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“I think it’s high time Andrew Scheer ends his lifelong boycott and explain why he has refused to show support for this community by walking in a Pride parade,” the former citizenship and immigration minister said.
The request comes after the Liberals issued a press release Thursday with Goodale calling on Scheer to “end his lifelong boycott on Pride events” and attend Sunday’s parade in Ottawa.
Scheer has faced repeated criticism for skipping Pride parades as a leader of a federal party. The Conservative leader was most recently a no-show at Montreal’s Pride parade. He also didn’t show up to Vancouver’s annual Pride parade earlier this month.
Scheer’s absence opened opportunities for his opponents, such as Trudeau, to question the Conservative leader’s support for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s just unfortunate that there are still some party leaders who want to be prime minister, who choose to stand with people who are intolerant instead of standing with the LGBT community,” the prime minister said at the Vancouver parade.
Scheer’s office defended the Conservative leader at the time, saying there are “many ways” to support all Canadians “regardless of race, gender or sexual preference.”