OTTAWA – A conservative parliamentarian is accusing the liberals and the NDP of "anti-Catholic bigotry" in their questions about the position of its leader Andrew Scheer on same-sex marriage.
In a panel interview on the CTV question period airing on Sunday, Alberta MP Garnett Genuis was asked if he thinks that Scheer should recalibrate his position on social issues such as same-sex marriage before the review of party leadership in April.
His response was that "if anything", the party must ensure that Scheer's "very clear" position "is heard by all".
"Unfortunately we see this kind of water confusion and the frankly anti-Catholic bigotry of the other parties, but we are going to reject it," said Genuis. "What we are seeing with Andrew Scheer … is someone who is asked questions based on, I often think of a misunderstanding or presumptions about Catholics," Genuis said about the questions Scheer was asked about whether or not he considers homosexuality as a sin.
"Andrew Scheer was very clear about equality and what I think we need to be sensitive to is this particular anti-Catholic message in particular," said Genuis, holding an editorial comic in the 1960 US presidential election John F. Kennedy, as an example.
"I think we have to be very careful not to go down this road in Canada," he said.
In response to Genuis' accusations, the NDP and the Liberal deputies who were on the panel with him stated that it was not a question of religion.
"I don't think it is, I mean, I am a Catholic," said Liberal MP Mona Fortier, who also noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is Catholic, but was vocal in his support for LGBTQ Canadians.
"I just find that they are trying to find a way out of the conversation which is what we are having right now," said Fortier.
NDP deputy Jack Harris, who was raised as a Catholic, stated that it is not a question of whether the questions to Scheer are a fair game, but rather "do you think people are immoral or bad because they are homosexuals?"
In the same way he defended his leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh, saying that unlike the conservative party, he did not feel any concern about the position of the NDP in supporting and celebrating LGBTQ people.
"If you can't calm that fear by legitimately saying," No, I'm ready to recognize and support them and march in a parade of pride to show that I support their efforts for equality ", well, this gives rise to to legitimate fear, "said Harris. "It has nothing to do with religion. You can have your personal beliefs whatever you want, but if you're not proving it to the point that people can trust that it's not part of your agenda or your party, then you have a problem. "
Several leading conservatives emerged in the weeks following the elections to ask Scheer to be clearer about his personal position on same-sex marriage or to risk losing the possibility of leading the party to the next election.
Last week's episode, former prime minister of former prime minister Stephen Harper said that Scheer's position on same-sex marriage "could be fatal" for its future of leaders because not supporting marriage between persons of the same sex is "increasingly seen as a fanaticism".
At the time CTV News had asked its office to clarify whether or not its personal opinion was a marriage between persons of the same sex and had not been answered.
So, after the Caucus meeting on Wednesday – where conservative MPs wondered if Scheer could be the leader of a party that does more to be a voice for the LGBTQ Canadians – Scheer was asked in a scrum if he personally thought that gay was a sin.
His response was similar to the one he offered earlier, saying: "My personal opinion is that I respect the rights of every single Canadian and my personal commitment to Canadians is to always fight for the rights of all Canadians , including the LGBTQ Canadians ".
In a separate segment of Sunday's episode, Conservative Prime Minister Brian Pallister of Manitoba stated that the act of balancing in terms of public sentiment and personal opinions is a challenge that every leader must face.
"The beauty of the situation that Andrew now has to face, and his double-edged dichotomy, is that the basic members of the Conservative Party throughout Canada will determine who their leader is, they will ask a little bit of the questions that you've just given me, and in the Conservative Party, that's how we run, "said Evan Solomon to the host.