The Conservatives have dumped Jagdish Grewal, a candidate in suburban Toronto who defended therapies that attempt to turn gays straight and who penned an editorial that referred to homosexuality as "unnatural behaviour" and heterosexuals as "normal."
"These comments do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party of Canada. We believe that all Canadians — regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation — deserve to be treated with respect and dignity," the Conservative Party said in a statement. "Mr. Grewal is no longer an official candidate for the Conservative Party."
Grewal, running in Mississauga-Malton, wrote an editorial in the Punjabi Post earlier this year entitled "Is it wrong for a homosexual to become a normal person?"
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He describes an NDP private member's bill passed unanimously in the Ontario legislature in June that removed public funding for services designed to "change or direct the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient."
Grewal writes in the piece that some psychologists blame a "shock" during childhood for causing a person to become gay, but that the change "can be corrected."
"The political competition of today raises the question of whether any person's wish to become a normal person is wrong?" Grewal wrote in Punjabi.
"If it is a parent's right to set guidelines for their children in terms of their education, career and health, then why is it illegal for them to strengthen their natural heterosexuality?"
Mulcair urges Harper to 'remove' candidate
At a rally in the riding on Sept. 8, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper appeared on stage with Grewal and praised his work.
"I can tell you this: through his newspaper and radio show, he urges all those who come to this country to embrace the values of freedom, democracy, of tolerance, and respect, the things that make our country such a great place to live," Harper told the audience.
Earlier, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said that Grewal's remarks were unacceptable and called on Harper to "remove him."
"We're saying that in this day and age, a prime minister who accepts that, continues to tolerate it and accepts the type of statement today on homosexuals is frankly not showing leadership," Mulcair told reporters in Surrey, B.C.
"Mr. Harper's got to start getting it right and it starts by firing this candidate who said those things that are totally unacceptable about gays."
Grewal said in an interview Tuesday that he was attempting to educate readers about an issue in the news and lay out the positions taken by the provincial parties and psychologists. He said he did not recall the names of the psychologists he mentioned.
In the editorial, he points to the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity, an American group that offers therapies to people who have "unwanted homosexual attractions."
"Yes, there's children who have tendencies, who are attracted," Grewal said. "If that child wants to come back or tell the parents that he wants to get out of this life, then parents should have the right to bring them back to their straight life."
Grewal's editorial does not address professional criticism of so-called reparative or conversion therapies. The Canadian Pediatric Society's position on adolescent sexual orientation states that such treatments "should not be provided because they do not work and have the potential to heighten guilt and anxiety."
High-profile Ontario Progressive Conservatives supported the private member's bill when it came to a vote.
Grewal is running against Liberal Navdeep Bains, a former MP who is also an organizer for the party in the Toronto area.
Flyers include Pride parade photo
A campaign pamphlet recently spotted in the riding, with the fine print "Authorized by the official agent for Jagdish Grewal," features a picture of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Ontario Kathleen Wynne at the Toronto Pride parade. The slogan reads, "Are these the priorities of your family?"
In another picture, a piece of paper is superimposed onto Bains' hand. The paper reads "Liberal priorities: Sex Education, Gay Marriage, Legalize Marijuana and Prostitution."
Grewal says the flyer is not from his campaign.
There has been opposition to the Ontario government's new sexual education curriculum from within some ethnic communities. The new content addresses sexual orientation and gender identity and homophobia. Children in Grade 1 will be taught the correct names of body parts.
Earlier this year, Wynne said she believed the federal Conservatives were using sex ed as a political wedge issue in the province in advance of the election.
Grewal says that he's been getting an earful from people in the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities upset by the curriculum." There are families who are keeping their kids at home, they're not sending them to school they're so frustrated with this," said Grewal.
"They don't talk about any other issues. This is their biggest issue at the time at the door."
Bains disagrees, saying people understand that a federal MP has no power to shape a provincial education plan.
"Unemployment is high, higher than the national average, youth unemployment is high and people are worried about the economy, worried about jobs," Bains said of the riding. "Those are the issues that matter."