British Columbia

Former Conservative candidate continues campaigning with party's signs

Heather Leung was removed as the Conservative candidate over past homophobic comments and is now running independently — but her team is still using Conservative campaign material, despite being told not to by the party.

Heather Leung, now running independently, has been told to stop using signs — but her team is putting up more

One of many of Heather Leung’s Conservative election signs that are still planted around the riding of Burnaby North–Seymour on Oct. 15, despite the fact she is now running independently. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The campaign signs are plastered all over the riding of Burnaby North–Seymour, urging voters to elect Conservative Heather Leung.

Except she's not running for the Conservatives. The party dismissed her nearly two weeks ago over past homophobic comments, forcing her to run independently instead.

However, with the nomination deadline already passed, under Elections Canada rules her name will still appear on the ballot as the Conservative candidate.

And, with just days to go until the election, signs that clearly indicate that Leung is a party candidate remain planted across the riding — and her team is not planning to take them down.

The Conservative Party of Canada has told her to stop. 

"Ms. Leung is not our candidate. If Ms. Leung is elected she will not sit in the Conservative caucus," the party said in an emailed statement.

"Ms. Leung has been told she cannot use our party's name or logo or represent herself as the Conservative candidate." 

Heather Leung has not been made available for repeated interview requests. She was removed as Conservative Party candidate for past homophobic comments. (Conservative Party of Canada)

'Very weird and, frankly, very confusing'

But Leung's team has not taken down the signs. In fact, it's been putting up even more. 

"I realize this is a very strange situation; it's very weird and, frankly, very confusing for a lot of people," said Travis Trost, Leung's campaign manager, in an interview Tuesday.

Leung's team gave no indication that it planned to stop using the old Conservative logos and signs.

Trost said no one from the party headquarters has explicitly told him to stop using the Conservative brand. 

Elections Canada has been very clear about the fact that Heather is listed as the Conservative [candidate] on the ballot and that's why we're using the signs the way we are.​​​​- Travis Trost, Heather Leung's campaign manager

"When I contacted somebody from the Conservative Party, they never got back to me," Trost said.

"So if the national party wants to talk to me about this issue, they know my phone number and they can get in touch with me.

"Elections Canada has been very clear about the fact that Heather is listed as the Conservative [candidate] on the ballot and that's why we're using the signs the way we are."

But it's creating a misleading situation for voters, according to one local politician.

"The signs are false advertising — their logo is [still attached] to her name," said Lisa Muri, a councillor with the District of North Vancouver.

"It's confusing for voters; by all estimations, it appears she's still running for them from a visual perspective," Muri said, who added that she has no federal party affiliations.

'We don't police what a sign looks like'

Elections Canada says it has no control over how campaign material is used in rare situations like this.

"It's not covered in electoral law, which is really the issue," said Andrea Marantz with Elections Canada.

"We don't police what a sign looks like, where they're placed, if they're damaged — none of those questions are under Elections Canada jurisdiction," she said.

CBC asked the Conservative Party if, or how, it will force Leung to stop campaigning with their material. The party has yet to respond. 

About the Author

Provincial Affairs Reporter covering the B.C. Legislature. Anything political: tanya.fletcher@cbc.ca

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