April 30 2018
On April 21, members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PCPO) in the riding of Mississauga Centre nominated Tanya Granic Allen, former president of Parents As First Educators (PAFE) and unsuccessful PCPO leadership contender, to be the party’s candidate in the June 7 provincial election. Mrs. Granic Allen is a well-known social conservative with deeply-held religious beliefs who has vowed to fight for a socially conservative agenda if elected. She has made some controversial statements in the past regarding the LGBT community and has been endorsed by organizations with a history of animosity to LGBT people. LGBTory Canada has concerns about Mrs. Granic Allen’s candidacy, and we call on her and PCPO Leader Doug Ford to clearly and publicly explain to voters, before the election, the extent to which she and the PCPO will attempt to implement policies that will impact the legal and civil rights of LGBT people in Ontario.
Mrs. Granic Allen has been associated with, and endorsed by, a number of groups that espouse policies that are not in the best interests of LGBT people. As president of PAFE, she worked hard to repeal the new Ontario sex education curriculum, which we believe contains a number of sensible revisions that benefit all students, including LGBT children (see our statement on this subject here). She has been supported by organizations like LifeSite News and the Campaign Life Coalition (for which she used to be a spokesperson) that have a long record of animus to LGBT people. (See video of her at a Queen’s Park sex ed protest here.) There are a number of her past associations, statements and policy positions that are of concern to us.
She has been vocal in her opposition to same-sex civil marriage, which has been legal in Canada since 2005. She has gone so far as to claim that same-sex marriage is causing “the demise of society” (see here).
The organization of which she was president, PAFE, is strongly opposed to including any sympathetic or positive treatment of homosexuality or gender identity in Ontario classrooms. PAFE’s website cites under “Research” (see here) a number of outdated and discredited academics to support its anti-LGBT agenda, including Stanton L. Jones & Michael Yarhouse (see here), Mark Regnerus (see here), Michelle Cretella (see here), and the American College of Pediatricians (see here). The use of these academic sources as support for policy should be a warning sign in any organization but are especially worrisome coming from a group led by someone who is seeking to be a legislator with the power to determine government policies and to make laws enforcing them.
Mrs. Granic Allen is on record as opposing Ontario’s Bill 28, the All Families Are Equal Act (see here). Introduced in 2016, this is a sensible piece of legislation that extends the same legal rights to parents in same-sex relationships as those enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts and protects the legal rights of children raised by same-sex couples. Mrs. Granic Allen and PAFE fought the bill on the grounds that, in her words, it would “reconstruct the family by stripping away the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’, replacing those words with ‘parent’.” (See here)
During the 2018 PCPO leadership debate, Mrs. Granic Allen stated her opposition to Ontario’s Bill 77 and attacked one of her opponents, Christine Elliott, for co-sponsoring the bill in the Ontario legislature in 2015 (see here). Bill 77, the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act (see here), outlaws so-called “conversion therapy” in Ontario for persons under the age of 18 without their consent. Conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual through psychiatric or spiritual intervention. Critics of the practice say it is ineffective and harmful (see here), and there is no credible academic or clinical evidence that it works. Its use is opposed by most reputable medical and psychiatric authorities in the western world. In many cases, it amounts to a form of mental torture. It is very troubling that Mrs. Granic Allen believes that it should still be legal in Ontario.
Most recently, Mrs. Granic Allen found herself the subject of controversy over a number of tweets from her personal Twitter account which some found to be homophobic (see here). At the very least, her tweets show a lack of good judgment in someone seeking a seat at Queen’s Park.
Mrs. Granic Allen has made a name for herself as a devout Christian and frames her statements as a defence of her faith and the exercise of her constitutional rights to religious freedom and freedom of speech. She has been a vocal advocate for the social conservatives in the PCPO who claim to have been marginalized in the party.
We have no quarrel with social conservatives and have consistently supported freedom of speech and religion. Religious groups in Ontario should be free to preach their message in the public square and to practice their religion as they see fit in their own families, private schools, and churches, so long as they don’t violate the law. The state, however, must be neutral and secular, and must protect the equal rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBT community. No religious group has the right to impose its beliefs on citizens who do not share them. We are concerned that Mrs. Granic Allen will, if she is elected, advocate for the use of the power of the legislature to do exactly that. Her record is not encouraging.
We have some serious questions about Mrs. Granic Allen’s suitability to sit in the Ontario legislature, and her ability, should she be elected, to represent all of her constituents, including those in the LGBT community and those who do not share her religious beliefs. We urge the public and the media to carefully examine her record and question her on her planned agenda should she be the MPP for Mississauga Centre. We ask Mrs. Granic Allen to publicly clarify her policies in these areas, and we ask Mr. Ford to provide some clarification on his party’s positions with regard to the issues her candidacy has raised.
Ultimately it is up to the voters of Mississauga Centre to decide whether or not Mrs. Granic Allen represents them at Queen’s Park, but all elected officials have a wider responsibility to represent all of their constituents regardless of their beliefs and to ensure that the democratic and civil rights of all citizens, including LGBT citizens, are protected. We hope that Tanya Granic Allen and Doug Ford take that responsibility seriously.