Ontario PC Leader Hudak stands by 'homophobic' flyer

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader is standing by a campaign flyer labelled homophobic and misleading that was distributed in a key election battleground outside Toronto over the weekend.

Staff gets physical with reporters at Monday rally

Ben Shenouda, seen clapping at the right of the frame, did not answer reporters' questions at a rally for Tim Hudak Monday. (Genevieve Tomney/CBC)

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader is standing by a campaign flyer labelled homophobic and misleading that was distributed in a key election battleground outside Toronto over the weekend.

For a second day, Hudak was asked about the dispersal of the literature — English and Punjabi versions of which were reportedly distributed in Brampton — that casts a critical eye at a Toronto District School Board document aimed at helping educators fight homophobia in schools.

"I think the only person who has explaining to do is [Liberal Leader] Dalton McGuinty, who wants to bring in sex-ed curriculum that starts in Grade One when kids are six years old. And then on top of that, he wants to keep these things hidden from mums and dads. I think that's wrong," said Hudak, referring to a long-aborted Liberal attempt to revamp sex-ed curriculum in schools across the province.

The Liberals have not since made any mention of changing the current sexual education curriculum, which has remained the same since Progressive Conservative Mike Harris was premier.

When asked specifically if he stood behind the flyers, Hudak replied: "Of course. And I wonder if Dalton McGuinty's going to stand by his plan to actually bring in these changes [for children as young as] six years old."

The controversial flyer contains quotes it says are taken from the K-12 curriculum. But the quotes are not included in the curriculum, only in the anti-homophobia resource guide. The application of the recommendations in the guide aren't mandatory for educators.

The flyer also claims the school board document contains a reference to "cross-dressing for six-year-olds," although no such wording can be found anywhere in the document. The Liberals say the flyer is homophobic and misleading.

Hudak's comments Tuesday come after staff at a Progressive Conservative rally in Brampton Monday night physically intervened when two reporters tried to ask a local candidate about the flyers.

The incident occurred toward the end of the rally headlined by a Hudak speech.

The CBC's Genevieve Tomney and the Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye repeatedly tried to ask Brampton West PC candidate Ben Shenouda about his involvement in the dispersal of the flyer.

The Liberals claim Shenouda is one of the PC candidates who sent out flyers to constituents in Brampton.

Shenouda initially told Ladurantaye and Tomney he would answer their questions after Hudak had left the rally, but soon an entourage including security staff moved in. Tomney was pushed by a member of Hudak's campaign staff, while Ladurantaye took an elbow in the ribs. PC campaign staff later apologized to the reporters.

Shenouda left the rally without answering any questions.

McGuinty has called the campaign literature disappointing and divisive.

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Copies of these flyers were distributed over the weekend in some ridings in the Brampton area.

With files from Genevieve Tomney