Before the election writ was drawn, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford dropped Tanya Granic Allen as a candidate for the party in the June 7 provincial election. The Liberal Party had released a series of videos showing Granic Allen, whose down-ballot support helped propel Ford to the leadership in March, making supposedly disparaging remarks about homosexuals.
The videos from a 2014 talk Granic Allen gave to a group of Croatian-Canadians showed the then head of Parents as First Educators expressing concern that her parents’ home country was adopting same-sex “marriage,” saying it made her want to “vomit.” In other videos from the same event she also talked about her disgust with self-described homosexuals donating blood and using in vitro fertilization to create genetic children. The Liberals did not keep those videos online and media reports of Granic Allen being dismissed as a PC candidate have not referenced those videos, just the opposition to same-sex “marriage.”
Initially, Ford supported Granic Allen. When the first videos were released at 1 pm on May 5, the Ford team and PC campaign headquarters stood behind Granic Allen’s candidacy. However, by 7 pm that same evening, the brain trust behind Ford decided Granic Allen was at best a distraction and at worst a liability and threw her under the bus.
Ford said in a statement: “We are a party comprised of people with diverse views that if expressed responsibly we would respect. However, the fact is her characterization of certain issues and people has been irresponsible. Our party remains focused on defeating Kathleen Wynne and bringing relief to families across Ontario.”
Granic Allen expressed her disappointment, saying in an email to supporters, “another betrayal of social conservatives – just like Patrick Brown.” She said Ford should have supported her against the “trumped up charge” she is homophobic, saying she is defending parental rights in education, not opposing the rights of any particular group of people. In theNational Postthe following week, she said she will continue fighting for the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children as well as the rights of people of faith to participate in the political process.
Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interimhe was “outraged” by Ford’s move against Granic Allen and that Ford will have a problem with CLC’s tens of thousands of supporters in the province. “Many pro-life Ontarians were excited by the Ford Tories because of the leader’s promise to repeal the sex-ed curriculum and the fact he had Tanya on his team. They don’t seem as excited anymore.” He said many will still vote for the PCs, but their enthusiasm to take a lawn sign, volunteer, and donate have dissipated.
Gunnarson warned that if Ford’s advisers are counting on opposition to Kathleen Wynne to attract pro-life and pro-family voters, they might be in a for a surprise. “We’ve been inundated with calls and emails from angry supporters who are wondering if this is the second-coming of Patrick Brown,” said Gunnarson. “From our point of view, it’s not that bad yet because of his stated commitment to repeal sex-ed, but many of our supporters just see another betrayal.”
Granic Allen urged her supporters across the province to hold the PCs to their commitment to repeal and replace the Wynne sex-ed curriculum. On May 7, Ford made an announcement about education policy which included reiterating his promise to repeal the sex-ed curriculum. He said the “sex curriculum” reflected “Liberal ideology” and promised to properly consult parents before introducing a new sex-ed curriculum.
Granic Allen said she is watching the leadership debates to see “if Doug Ford will make a re-commitment to repealing and replacing Wynne’s sex-ed.” He did not in the first two debates.
The Liberals also attacked the PCs for standing behind two other supposedly controversial candidates who allegedly made politically incorrect statements, Andrew Lawton (London West) and Marilee Fullerton (Carleton). Lawton said his statements on the primacy of Christianity, women making better receptionists, and race and crime were made when he suffered mental health issues. Ford has stood behind Lawton’s candidacy.