Nfld. & Labrador

Crosbie boots candidate with anti-abortion, anti-gay views 24 hours after backing him

Tory candidate Michael Normore was vocal about his views on same-sex marriage and had the backing of Ches Crosbie — until the PC leader read his posts.

Michael Normore still on paper as PC candidate since advance poll is over

Michael Normore, the candidate for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, does not support same-sex marriage or abortion except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. (Michael Normore/Facebook)

Newfoundland and Labrador Tory Leader Ches Crosbie says a candidate with staunch conservative views won't be a member of his party after the May 16 election.

Crosbie said Michael Normore's name will remain on the ballot as a Progressive Conservative candidate, since advance polling has already taken place. But that's where the relationship ends.

"If elected, he will not be in the PC caucus," Crosbie told reporters on Friday morning.

Normore said he'll continue as a candidate in Cartwright–L'Anse au Clair, but will act as an Independent even though the PC designation will be next to his name on the ballot.

Crosbie said Normore was vetted prior to becoming a candidate and he was aware of his personal views.

Crosbie supported Normore when questioned by CBC News on Thursday, but said he was shown social media posts afterwards and saw "unfortunate comments the candidate made on social media which are incompatible with the values the PC party represents and with my own values."

Candidates can't be stirring up those kinds of issues in this day and age.- Ches Crosbie, PC leader

The PC leader confirmed he also spoke with the candidate for Labrador West, Pentecost Pastor Derick Sharron, who told Crosbie he would keep his opinions on social issues quiet.

Crosbie said he didn't actually ask Sharron what his beliefs were, but wanted assurance he wouldn't bring it up.

"I don't think it's up to me … to inquire into people's private beliefs as long as they assure me they are not going to become publicly addressed," Crosbie said. "Candidates can't be stirring up those kinds of issues in this day and age, and that's been the social settlement for 25 years now."

On Friday, CBC News reported Normore's views on gay marriage, abortion and immigration after speaking with the candidate himself and reviewing his social media posts.

"I'm conservative and I'm not in favour of same-sex marriage," Normore said earlier this week. "That's the way I was brought up."

Normore stressed those opinions don't supersede the work to be done in his district.

"The issues of the people of the [south Labrador] coast certainly come first," he said.

On Thursday, Crosbie said he doesn't agree with Normore's conservative views but still supported him as a candidate.

Ches Crosbie chats with a constituent at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Thursday morning as he toured central Labrador. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"I think he's a fine candidate and will represent the constituents of that district on the issues that are truly important to them," Crosbie said as he toured central Labrador on Thursday.

"The fact that he has conservative views on those issues, [that] he recognizes are a matter of personal opinion — there are others like him out there, and since it's a democracy, we have to respect that we have people representative of the full spectrum of opinion," Crosbie said.

"Mr. Normore is part of that spectrum."

Crosbie told CBC News his own views on abortion and same-sex marriage are on the liberal end of that spectrum.

"I think the way the law is, is the way it needs to be," Crosbie said.

Not a party issue, Crosbie says

Two hours after dropping Normore from the party, the Progressive Conservatives released an official statement. 

"The PC Party fully supports the right of a woman to autonomy over her own body, same-sex couples, and the right of partners to marry without regard to gender or gender identity," the statement said.

"The PC Party is an inclusive organization that support the hard-fought right and freedoms of all people."

Crosbie said in the statement that upon returning from Labrador and seeing the 2015 social media post, it was clear Normore's views do not represent the views of the party.

On Friday, Crosbie pointed out that anti-gay marriage views aren't a Progressive Conservative Party issue, pointing to Liberal candidates who have made news for their opinions in the past.

Jerry Dean, a Liberal candidate for the Exploits region in central Newfoundland, was the mayor of Botwood when he made comments about refusing to officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies.

In an emailed statement on Friday afternoon, Dean said, "I am pro-choice, I support same-sex marriage, and I affirmed these values through the vetting process involved with my becoming a candidate for the Liberal Party. I support Liberal Party principles, which include openness, inclusiveness and diversity."

Gerry Byrne, Liberal candidate for Corner Brook, was one of three Liberal federal members to vote in line with a Conservative bill against same-sex marriage.

Another one of those three members was Bill Matthews, a former federal Liberal who is now running as a PC in this provincial election in the district of Burin-Grand Bank.

When asked about Dean, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said he had signed a contract upholding Liberal beliefs, including the approval of same-sex marriage.

But after questions from CBC News, a statement from the Liberal campaign clarified that contract: It doesn't specifically refer to same-sex marriage, but instead requires a candidate to support a more vague compendium of "political philosophies, principles, and policies."

The Liberal constitution declares: "Everyone in our society deserves full acceptance regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, colour or religion."

Party members are expected to "advocate and support" those principles, the statement said.

On immigration and abortion

Normore previously posted on social media about immigration, abortion and gay rights.

It was a post published by CBC News on Friday morning that led Crosbie to ask Normore to resign.

"So true!" it reads at the top of the post, which no longer appears in public view on Normore's Facebook account, that linked to an article decrying a same-sex marriage decision in the United States.

A post on Michael Normore's Facebook page from 2015 linked to an article decrying the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring states to grant same-sex marriages. It no longer appears publicly on Normore's page. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

When it comes to immigration, he said he welcomes new Canadians making their homes in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"I'm all for immigration," Normore said. "We need new people coming into the province." 

I think that a human life is a human life at conception and I don't believe in abortion just because a woman wants an abortion.- Michael Normore

But Normore said he also believes in more thorough background checks before newcomers are admitted into the country.

"You have to know who you're letting in, so that we're not letting criminals and whatever come into our country," he said. "Lots of them that come in ... are criminals, so we've got to have a good vetting policy in place."

Under Canadian immigration law, convicts for crimes ranging from theft to driving under the influence can be deemed criminally inadmissible.

Normore lives in the Humber Valley now, but says he's building a home in L'anse Au Loup. (Michael Normore/Facebook)

Normore also declares himself personally against legal abortion, except if a woman's pregnancy puts her life in danger.

"I would go along with abortion as a way to save her life," he said. "Otherwise I think that a human life is a human life at conception and I don't believe in abortion just because a woman wants an abortion."

He said if a prospective voter has concerns about his position on these issues, they aren't obligated to support him.

"My personal beliefs are my personal beliefs, and you can't just change that to get a vote ... they got a choice, they can vote for me or they can vote for Lisa Dempster, that's up to them." 

Not a politician

Normore, a 63-year-old retiree, doesn't live in the district, instead residing in the Humber Valley area. 

"I'm building a house in L'anse au Loup. I started it last year and am going to complete it this summer," he said.

Normore worked as a federal fisheries officer in Labrador throughout the 1980s, living in Cartwright for seven years and St. Lewis for two years. He said he moved his family to the island of Newfoundland and trained in nursing after the moratorium on the fishery took hold.

"I'm not a politician," he said. "I never had any political aspirations." 

However, Normore said he thinks people on on the southern coast of Labrador and in the straits are "fed up" with the representation they've been getting under the Liberal government.

On Thursday, Normore said there have been no discussions of issues like same-sex marriage, abortion or immigration while he's been out campaigning. His plan is to hit every home in the Cartwright-L'anse Au Clair district.

"I'm telling them that I'll be a voice for them, they've been ignored for too long," he said.

"I'll do whatever I have to do to bring their issues to light."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jacob Barker and Ariana Kelland