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Poilievre disagrees with Conservative MP who opposes same-sex marriage, vows to uphold

Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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Facing scrutiny over comments one of his MPs made, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says if he become prime minister, he will uphold same sex marriage rights, "full stop."

"Canadians are free to love and marry who they choose. Same sex marriage is legal and it will remain legal when I am prime minister," Poilievre said in a statement sent to CTV News on Monday.

His comment comes amid renewed attention on the Official Opposition's position on LGBTQ2S+ rights after Conservative MP Arnold Viersen recently said on a podcast that he'd "vote gay marriage down," if he could.

Viersen appeared on an episode of Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith's "Uncommons" podcast, where the conversation turned to his views on social conservativism. 

Viersen, who has represented the Alberta riding of Peace River-Westlock since 2015, said it was "not a lonely fight" within the Conservative caucus on social conservative issues, noting there was "a spectrum on pretty much every issue."

Over the weekend, after his comments surfaced and federal Liberals accused him of saying "the quiet part out loud," Viersen issued a brief statement saying his remarks "don't represent the positions of the Leader, nor the policies passed by Conservative Party members themselves."

Viersen went on to note that the "reality" is the "status quo" will remain under a Poilievre government.

In his statement, Poilievre said he disagreed with Viersen's "statements and the positions he took on this podcast," noting how the two men also differ on issues such as abortion and marijuana legalization.

"They do not represent the positions of the Conservative Party, or myself as leader," Poilievre said in his comment to CTV News.

"When I am prime minister, no laws or rules will be passed that restrict women's reproductive choices. Period," Poilievre said. "There will also be no change to the legal status of marijuana under a future Conservative government."

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005. It was in July of that year that Parliament enacted the Civil Marriage Act, after a years-long push both in the public and through the courts.

At the time, Poilievre was among the MPs who voted against this bill and its proposal to extend "the legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes to same-sex couples in order to reflect values of tolerance, respect and equality, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

In 2023, Poilievre – whose adoptive father is gay – distanced himself from a photo taken showing him standing next to a man wearing a "straight pride" T-shirt, indicating he didn't agree with the message.

Months later, as so-called "parental rights" protests took place across the country and on the lawn of Parliament Hill, The Canadian Press reported that Poilievre's office told his MPs not to post or talk about the demonstrations.

In recent months, Poilievre has faced criticism – largely from his progressive opponents – for siding with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on her proposed restrictions on transgender youth, and for refusing to say whether he'd campaign on a pair of anti-trans policy resolutions party delegates passed at their latest convention.

On Monday, Poilievre vowed his intention is to lead a "small government" that lets people make their own decisions "about their love lives, their families, their bodies, their speech, their beliefs and their money."

His unequivocal comment about same sex marriage also comes just hours after parliamentarians – including Poilievre's deputy Melissa Lantsman and party-causus liaison Eric Duncan, who are both openly gay – attended the Pride flag-raising on the Hill. 

CTV News has asked Poilievre's office if he'd commit to continuing with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau-initiated tradition of raising the Pride flag to mark the start of Pride month. The office of the leader of the Official Opposition has yet to respond.

With files from CTV News' Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos

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