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New Conservative MP says party needs to rethink LGBTQ positions
TORONTO – A newly elected Conservative MP from Ontario says his party should rethink its approach to LGBTQ issues if it wants its messages to resonate with voters.
"I think we need to work on how we make ourselves a modern Conservative party, and that includes being more inclusive on that issue," Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan said Monday on CTV's Your Morning.
"I'm looking forward to playing a role in that and helping shape that a little bit more in the coming months and years."
Political analysts have suggested that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's stance on LGBTQ issues – which includes declining to take part in Pride parades or to apologize for comments made in 2005, comparing same-sex marriage to dogs – played a part in his party's inability to win power during last month's federal election.
Kory Teneycke, a former director of communications for former prime minister Stephen Harper and campaign manager for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said Sunday on CTV's Question Period that Scheer will have "big problems" with voters if his position on same-sex marriage remains one that voters are increasingly equating with bigotry.
"In terms of actually being successful in being elected to be the prime minister of the country, I think it's a deal-stopper," he said.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay has said that he believes women were dissuaded from voting for the party because of "nervousness" around Scheer's social conservatism.
Scheer has said that he would not reopen the issue of same-sex marriage if he became prime minister. In 2016, he voted in favour of removing the Conservative party definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Duncan, who ran for the Conservatives in a rural riding not far from Ottawa, is openly gay. He is one of four Conservative candidates listed in a database of self-identified LGBTQ candidates on the website ProudPolitics. None of the others finished above third place.
"I've always been in support of rights for equal marriage, for transgender rights and those sorts of things, and I've always spoke up for those," he said Monday.
"I think there's a lot of members in our party that do the same as well."
Asked if he supports Scheer remaining as party leader, Duncan said he wants to hear Scheer's explanation of the election results and how the Conservatives can plot a path back to power.
"Andrew deserves a chance to make the pitch and say 'Here's what we need to do different; here's how we can be a more modern party,'" he said.
Duncan said his own interpretation of the results is that the Conservatives "went in the right direction" but should also look at incorporating new perspectives.
"I think every party needs to have diversity in it, have different voices. I think that's strong for our democracy and it's good for the Conservative party as well – it shows we're modern, shows we're inclusive," he said.
The Conservative caucus holds its first post-election meeting on Wednesday. Analysts have suggested that it is unlikely any serious threat to Scheer's position would be mounted before a leadership review takes place at the party's convention in April 2020.
With files from CTV News' Rachel Aiello