OTTAWA -- A group of high-profile Conservatives are slamming prospective Tory leadership candidate Richard Decarie for comments about LGBTQ Canadians.

In an interview on CTV's Power Play on Wednesday, Decarie said LGBTQ "is a Liberal term" and that being gay "is a choice."

"Government has a responsibility to encourage the traditional values that we have had for the past years,” said Decarie. "That’s the kind of [social conservative] issues I would bring as leader."

When asked by host Evan Solomon where he stands on pro-choice legislation, he said he would "defund abortion" and that marriage should be reserved for a "man and a woman."

Longtime Conservatives have since taken to Twitter to ridicule the former party staffer, insisting his views do not reflect those of the party.

Pierre Poilievre, who confirmed to CTV News he is seeking party leadership – tweeted in both French and English, saying "…you do not speak for Conservatives – or for Canadians. Being gay is NOT a choice. Being ignorant is."

Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay, who is also joining the race, said "…nobody should be running for office on a platform to roll back hard-won rights."

Another leadership hopeful, Erin O’Toole, said "this statement is ridiculous," noting that the party has moved past debate on same-sex marriage.

Openly gay Conservative MP Eric Duncan also weighed in.

In a subsequent interview with, leadership candidate Marilyn Gladu said her party is home to a wide-range of values and perspectives.

"As a Canadian he certainly has the right to his own opinion, but I’m sure you’ve seen the response that not everyone feels the same way," she said.

"I really want to see us move to a place where everyone in Canada really has the freedom to think what they want and to say what they want without being shamed."

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant shared his thoughts while departing from his party's caucus retreat on Parliament Hill on Thursday.

"I think there’s no place for comments like that and I’m really glad to see the Conservative Party is trying to move away from that," he said.

Decarie also criticized outgoing Tory leader Andrew Scheer for not clearly and consistently articulating his views on same-sex marriage and abortion, which he said cost him the election.

"His position on all of those values was pretty clear all his career but he didn’t defend them during the electoral campaign, so I think that’s where the problem started," said Decarie.

Last week, CTV News obtained an excerpt of former cabinet minister John Baird’s report assessing the party’s campaign performance.

It read, "A political leader who considers gay families less worthy of respect or is visibly uncomfortable with marriage equality is now an electoral liability no party can afford."

While Decarie hasn’t officially registered as a leadership candidate, a representative from his campaign said they’re securing signatures and that "it won’t be long."

All candidates must put forward a $200,000 non-refundable entry fee, a $100,000 deposit and a baseline of 3,000 signatures from party members. Candidates have until February 27 to enter and until March 25 to fully meet the race guidelines.