Sex-ed and other social-conservative hot buttons starting to light up Ontario Tory leadership race
For more than two years, the Ontario Tories have managed to skirt around the kind of social-conservative flashpoints that have brought them little but grief in the past. But as the party’s leadership race picks up momentum — and a surprise, potential fourth candidate — that unofficial moratorium appears to be ending.
Two of the three most prominent contenders say they will at least revisit the controversial new sex-education curriculum introduced by the Liberal government, with one charging Monday it is riddled with “Liberal ideology,” the other promising she would allow free votes on questions of conscience. And the newest would-be entrant — Tanya Granic Allen, head of a parents group that opposed the sex-ed revamp — is pledging to make sex-ed and similar issues her prime focus.
Pro-life groups are suddenly energized, and hope the candidates will also debate the Liberal law passed last fall that created “bubble zones” around abortion clinics, rendering pro-life protests illegal within 50 metres.
“We have been crying for three years, unwanted in our party, but now are back in the fold,” said Charles McVety, Ontario’s most prominent evangelical Christian activist.
Allen said she will use her candidacy to “force” those issues to the fore — so long as she raises the $100,000 needed to officially run.
“There are a lot of grass-roots conservatives who feel disenfranchised, who feel shut out of this party,” she said in an interview Friday. “I’m here to be their voice.”
The more mainstream candidates are undoubtedly eager to corral some of those Tories, too. Rreaching out to social conservatives may well be a “shrewd” short-term strategy, says pollster Greg Lyle, head of the Innovative Research Group. (Continued: National Post)