I’ve said that I’m a pragmatic Progressive Conservative.
It means being willing to change your mind when presented with compelling evidence and accepting good ideas no matter where they originate. There are plenty of political experts who will say this is weakness. I think Ontarians are more reasonable. Yes, my views on Ontario’s sexual education curriculum—and similar issues—have evolved.
I opposed the changes to the curriculum when they were first announced. They were undeniably controversial and Kathleen Wynne failed to explain it adequately to parents. Even Dalton McGuinty backed away from implementing them.
Time and the evidence of my own eyes tells me that I was mistaken. Concerns were exaggerated and have not borne out. I’ve met with many educators, parents, and school boards—some of whom opposed the curriculum—and they are satisfied with how it’s been implemented. Further, I have since come to the conclusion that significant opposition to the curriculum was rooted in a refusal to accept LGBT elements into the curriculum.
It’s not the first time I’ve been on the wrong side of an issue. In 2006, as a young MP I voted for a motion to reopen debate on the definition of marriage. Like many people, I’ve been shown countless times in my life by friends, family, and those I love how wrong I was to take that view. Today I strongly support marriage equality. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you love and no government has any business saying it does.
As I said last month, and as I will continue saying, while I deplore the absence of consultation with parents, I strongly support the updated sex-ed curriculum. I will never support removing LGBT sensitivity or combating homophobia from schools. It is important to have sex education to combat homophobia, and raise important issues like consent, mental health, bullying, and gender identity.
The curriculum must take into account changing attitudes and the world in which children will grow. They are being asked to understand challenging topics in ways their parents were not.
I’m sorry that Mr. Fonseca and members of his group are upset. But I’m running to lead all Ontarians. And while I stand for consultation, it doesn’t mean opening the door to intolerance.
If the price to be paid is that my political opponents will say I’ve “flip-flopped,” so be it. If you want a rigid ideologue as premier, vote for someone else.
I am determined to lead an Ontario PC Party that is modern, inclusive, pragmatic, and that reflects the diversity and values of our province. To me that means one that is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I was proud to be the first PC leader to march in the Toronto Pride parade. I was proud to be the first MP in Barrie’s history to attend a pride flag raising.
It’s who I am.
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario