Scheer has been caught in a media debacle over comments made 14 years ago on the topic of same-sex marriage.
In 2005, Scheer, while giving a speech at a the House of Commons after becoming an MP, reiterated the Christian perspective on marriage, saying that while he doesn’t have anything against LGBT+ people on a personal level, he did not, at the time, believe that same-sex marriage is equivalent to traditional marriage because it lacks the potential for procreation.
Specifically, Scheer said, “There is nothing more important to society than the raising of children, for its very survival requires it. Homosexual unions are by nature contradictory to this.”
“There is no complementarity of the sexes,” Scheer said. “Two members of the same sex may use their God-given free will to engage in acts, to co-habit and to own property together. They may commit themselves to monogamy. They may pledge to remain in a loving relationship for life.”
“In that sense they have many of the collateral features of marriage, but they do not have its inherent feature, as they cannot commit to the natural procreation of children. They cannot therefore be married.”
Many Liberal and NDP voters and politicians were highly offended by these comments and labelled them as “disgusting” and questioned Scheer’s trustworthiness regarding the maintaining of current LGBT+ laws and rights.
“Andrew Scheer’s disgusting prejudice against LGBTQI2S+ people and families is very painful for many Canadians. This is exactly why, if Canadians deliver a minority government in October, I will not prop up Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives,” NDP Leader Jasmeet Singh said in a tweet, seemingly conceding defeat before election day.
However, many Liberals have also changed their position of the question of same-sex marriage over the last two decades, something which the Conservative Party pointed out.
“As the Conservatives quickly pointed out, the Liberal Party of Canada has not always been on the leading edge of LGBTQ rights,” reports CBC. “Goodale, for instance, voted against a motion to recognize same-sex marriages in 1999 before voting in favour of the Civil Marriage Act in 2005.”
Since the video surfaced last week, Scheer has not rolled back his statements, but has said that, if elected, he has no intention of reopening the debate on same-sex marriage, reports Global News. Scheer said his public stance was settled when same-sex marriage became law.
“My personal views are that LGBT Canadians have the same inherent self-worth and dignity as any other Canadian and I will always uphold the law and always ensure they have equal access to the institution of marriage,” he said.
Scheer has also been under fire for his refusal to participate in various Pride events, citing Pride organizers decision to prevent police participation as a major source of indignation.
As mentioned, Scheer, like many politicians, has publicly changed his views on same-sex marriage over the last decade and a half.
“People have personal views on things,” he said in a 2016 interview with CBC.
“I voted my conscience. I voted my constituents’ wishes. It’s not something that I’m looking to revisit or to reopen.”
In 2016, Scheer supported “a move to erase the traditional definition of marriage from the Conservative Party of Canada’s policy book at its 2016 convention,” reports the Toronto Sun, “arguing Canadians already had their say in two elections where same-sex marriage was a major issue, and that it had been legal for more than a decade.”
Additionally, an openly gay Conservative MP has since come out to voice his continued support of Scheer, believing wholeheartedly that Scheer has no intention of repealing current LGBT+ legislation.
“We’re ready to go for the election and I wouldn’t be running if I had any inkling, whatsoever, that I wasn’t welcomed or my sexual orientation wasn’t welcome in the Conservative Party,” said Eric Duncan, Conservative candidate for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.
The Conservative Party also remained steadfast in their support.
“Andrew Scheer unequivocally supports equal LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage as defined in law,” the Conservative Party said in a statement. “He has advocated in the House for marginalized LGBTQ communities around the world.”
Jonathan Rose, an associate professor of Canadian politics at Queen’s University, characterized the Liberals use of video as a sign of things to come, a political forecasting that suggests underhanded, negative campaign tactics.
“All parties need to do is sow the seeds of doubt,” Rose said.
“This won’t cause anyone to change their mind, probably, but over time, the slow, steady, drip, drip, drip of these kinds of allegations from now right to election day may have people change their minds,” he said. “It’s the first salvo in a long, ongoing war.”