Best wishes, and caution, to Andrew Scheer

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House Speaker Andrew Scheer rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday March 24, 2014 . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

LGBTory Canada congratulates Andrew Scheer, the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). After a long, hard-fought, and gruelling campaign, he was elected as the new party leader yesterday in Toronto. In his victory speech, he told an enthusiastic crowd, “every single kind of conservative is welcome, and this party belongs to all of you”. These are encouraging words, and we wish Mr. Scheer good luck in achieving the ultimate goal of the CPC: forming a government in 2019.

It should be no surprise that we had reservations about Andrew Scheer as a leadership candidate. He is a social conservative who, as an MP, voted against legalizing same-sex marriage in 2005 and in 2016 voted against Bill C16, which extended civil rights and criminal code protections to transgender Canadians.

However, when questioned after delegates removed objections to same-sex marriage from the party’s policy declaration at the 2016 convention in Vancouver by a vote of 70% to 30%, Mr. Scheer stated that he would focus on issues that unite Conservatives, not divide them, and that he would not “revisit or re-open” divisive social issues.

The CPC membership, judging by the marriage vote at the Vancouver convention, mirrors the Canadian public in its support for LGBT rights. A large majority of party members, and Canadians in general, accept LGBT equality both in fact and in law.

We take Mr. Scheer at his word when he says that these issues are considered settled in this country, and that a government under his leadership will not revisit them.

We extend a hand of friendship to Mr. Scheer in his new role as leader, and offer to work with him to act as a bridge between the CPC and the LGBT community. We will continue to advocate in the CPC for LGBT people. However, we will be vigilant and will not hesitate to call him out when we feel that the CPC’s actions or policies are a threat to LGBT equality.

Although social conservatives are claiming responsibility for Mr. Scheer’s victory, we are encouraged by his promise to focus on the issues that unite the party, not divide it. We, like all Conservatives, share Mr. Scheer’s commitment to such goals as a strong economy, balanced budgets, lower taxes, eliminating obstacles to entrepreneurship and business growth, personal freedom and responsibility, and a robust foreign policy that confronts threats to Canadians.

Regarding his social conservative support, he said during the leadership campaign, “if social conservatives have 50 things they are wanting to accomplish, maybe 30 of them would be divisive and wouldn’t enjoy broad-based support in our own caucus. So, let’s work on the other 20.”

Indeed. Let’s work together on issues that all Conservatives, including those from the LGBT community, can support. There is much to be done.

LGBTory Canada

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