Conservative leadership committee will weigh candidates' personal views against party principles: Raitt
Former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt attends a Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
OTTAWA -- The co-chair of the Conservative Party's leadership organizing committee says the party will consider candidates' comments – on social issues or otherwise – to assess whether they align with party principles.
Former deputy leader Lisa Raitt said there is a section requiring a declaration of personal views in the rules published by the Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) on Jan. 13.
"It says very clearly, that there's going to be a questionnaire that you have to fill out. That questionnaire will be tested by a panel of LEOC who will then interview the potential candidate," Raitt said in an interview on CTV's Question Period airing Sunday.
"Questions will be put to them about what they’ve said in the past, what they’ve said in their questionnaire."
Earlier this week, during an interview on CTV's Power Play, prospective Conservative candidate Richard Decarie caused an uproar when he shared his "social conservative" stance on abortion and same-sex marriage.
He said being gay is "a choice" and that marriage should be reserved for a woman and a man, among other statements that were condemned by a number of high-profile Tories on social media.
MPs have questioned whether Decarie should be able to run for leadership if he formally registers, suggesting his views don’t support party values.
In a statement to CTV News following Decarie’s remarks, the director of communications for the party said he would encourage "…all potential candidates to carefully read our Leadership rules and our party’s principles to ensure they support them as it’s not just a preference but rather a requirement in the rules, and a failure to support these amounts to being ineligible for the race."
The first openly gay Conservative MP, Eric Duncan, who responded to Decarie’s comments on Twitter, told Question Period host Evan Solomon that he was "disappointed" by the remarks but remains hopeful that the party is moving in the right direction.
"Over the course of the last couple of days since these initial comments were made, it has been wonderful to see the support from all different parts of our party, from MPs, to volunteers, to front line volunteers just reject this and say we’re not going back, we’re not going back down this road again."
He said his sexual identity has been a non-issue, particularly during the federal election campaign as he was working to secure his seat in the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.
"My message is, it didn’t matter and people have moved on, Canadians have moved on, they’ve been accepting," said Duncan. "This leadership race is an exciting opportunity for our party. We’re going to have a lot of great candidates and a discussion about going forward."