A B.C. candidate dropped by the Conservative Party last week is continuing to use Tory campaign signs and will appear as a Conservative on ballots in the Oct. 21 election.
The Conservative Party severed its ties with Heather Leung, who is running in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour, after videos surfaced in which she denounced the “perverted lifestyles” of LGBTQ people and said they were recruiting children.
But Ms. Leung’s dismissal by the Conservatives occurred after the Sept. 30 deadline for parties to change or drop candidates. Elections Canada says her name will remain on the ballot as a Conservative.
Ms. Leung told media Tuesday that she is now running “independently,” although nothing changes on the ballot.
“My name is printed on the ballot with Conservative beside my name. No change,” she said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “But I don’t have the endorsement from the Conservative Party, this is for sure.”
She said she respects Mr. Scheer and the Conservative Party for their desire to form a better government.
Ms. Leung’s campaign manager says they are too far into the campaign to make any changes.
“I am trying to balance the fact that on the ballot she is considered a Conservative while the national party has cut her loose,” Travis Trost said in an e-mail exchange. It’s the “strangest political situation I have ever been [in],” he added.
However, rival campaigns in the Lower Mainland riding say voters are being deceived by Ms. Leung running as a Conservative when she no longer has the party’s blessing.
“The fact that [Tory Leader] Andrew Scheer has not been able to prevent Heather from utilizing Conservative assets speaks to his lack of leadership and experience,” Liberal incumbent Terry Beech said in a statement.
Svend Robinson, the NDP candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour, also said it’s an unfair situation.
“If the Conservatives are serious about cutting her loose and serious that she doesn’t represent the Conservative Party, what action are they taking to stop her from misrepresenting herself?”
Ms. Leung’s campaign is still using Tory logos in campaign material, including lawn signs.
Because “Conservative” is listed beside Ms. Leung’s name on the ballot, the signs reflect that reality, Mr. Trost wrote.
Mr. Trost said the campaign has distributed thousands of pieces of campaign literature with Ms. Leung and Mr. Scheer featured, but future literature would reflect the changed circumstances
Federal Tory spokesman Simon Jefferies said Ms. Leung is no longer a Conservative Party candidate, and will not sit in the Conservative caucus if elected.
Burnaby North-Seymour was created in 2012 by redistribution. In 2015, Mr. Beech won the riding with 36 per cent of the vote. The NDP came second with 30 per cent and the Tories third with 28 per cent.
Mr. Jefferies said that Ms. Leung has been told she cannot use the party’s name or logo to represent herself as the Conservative candidate.
Informed that Ms. Leung is using Conservative signage, Mr. Jefferies replied, “Statement stands.”
“Let’s be clear. She will still get her hard-core conservative voters,” Mr. Robinson said. “But there will also be people who think they are voting for a Conservative and they’re not.”
He urged the Conservatives to take more actions to make this issue emphatically clear.
In Tuesday’s interview, Ms. Leung initially said LGBTQ rights wasn’t an issue in her riding, but she later contradicted herself by acknowledging that such matters were a concern.
She said she had no intention to demean anyone when making the remarks in videos. “I am like every Canadian; I am entitled to my opinion.”
Ms. Leung, a mother of three, said she was speaking on behalf of more than 6,000 parents in Burnaby.
She declined to comment whether the Conservative Party was aware of the existence of those videos before they were made public by the media. Instead, she said, she had been honest with the party during the vetting process.
“I do not hide anything," she said. “I told the party everything to my best knowledge at that time, truthfully.”
Sanjay Jeram, a senior lecturer in political science at Simon Fraser University whose main campus is located in Burnaby North-Seymour, said he expects Ms. Leung being dropped as a Conservative will largely benefit the Liberals because most voters who would have supported her would vote Liberal as opposed to NDP.
Mr. Jeram said he was not surprised that Ms. Leung continues to use her Conservative credentials, despite being dropped by the party.
“She’s taking advantage of a loophole, and it makes sense to keep the connection with voters who may not be paying attention,” he said, referring to voters who may have missed the news that she has been dropped by the Tories over inappropriate remarks.
He said Burnaby North-Seymour is an interesting riding with a mix of homeowners, renters and students at SFU. He also described it as “ground zero” for issues around the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion given the line terminates in the riding, which is home to the facility where bitumen products are loaded into tankers for shipment abroad.