Canada

Ontario PCs grilled over flyer called anti-gay

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is deflecting questions about flyers issued by his party labelled by critics as anti-gay.
A group of protesters surround PC Leader Tim Hudak's bus at a campaign stop in London on Monday. They were angry about flyers distributed in Brampton that Hudak's critics have labelled as anti-gay. (CBC)

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is deflecting questions about flyers issued by his party labelled by critics as anti-gay.

The flyer, a copy of which is shown at the bottom of the page, casts a critical eye at a Toronto District School Board document aimed at helping educators fight homophobia in schools.

It singles out quotes purportedly lifted from the document titled "Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide."

"Read some traditional folk tales and fairy tales with the class. Have students write/illustrate their own 'gender-bending' versions," the flyer quotes the guide as saying.

"Don't want this for your kids? Parents don't have a say," the flyer says, adding: "Parents: Have your say. On October 6, vote against the McGuinty agenda."

The flyers, which say they were authorized by the chief financial officer for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, were handed out over the weekend in some ridings in the Greater Toronto Area. A Punjabi translation was also distributed in Brampton ridings.

The flyer includes one quote from the document —"cross-dressing for six-year olds"— that can't be found anywhere in the TDSB document. The flyer also says the quotes are taken from the K-12 curriculum. But the quotes are not included in the curriculum, only in the anti-homophobia resource guide.

The TDSB document does not recommend educators send out permission slips before talking about issues around discrimination and harassment, but notes "sending a school newsletter home at the beginning of each term is a best practice for keeping parents/guardians/caregivers informed of all upcoming equity topics in the classroom without having to single out one topic over the other."

'McGuinty's lost touch'

Hudak didn't directly answer questions about the flyer — which the Liberals are already slamming as homophobic — at a media event in Windsor on Monday morning. Rather, he spoke about a controversial sex-ed curriculum the Liberals considered but decided against implementing over a year ago.

"I think they reflect Dalton McGuinty's out-of-the-mainstream policy ideas to have a sex-ed curriculum that would begin with Grade ones," said Hudak when asked about the flyers.

"And the notion that Dalton McGuinty thinks a priority in our education system is a sex-ed curriculum starting at Grade 1 when they should be learning their ABCs, or math skills, tying their shoes — I just think this just shows another example of how Dalton McGuinty's lost touch with mainstream Ontario."

Hudak didn't address accusations by the Liberals that the flyer has homophobic undertones.

McGuinty attacked Hudak on Monday for starting the campaign by claiming a Liberal tax credit for new Canadians amounted to affirmative action for foreign workers, and for digging up another wedge issue in the final week.

"It's rather disappointing that Mr. Hudak started off his campaign on a divisive note, now he's winding up his campaign yet again on another divisive note," said McGuinty.

"I think the responsibility of leadership is to find ways to bring us together."

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Copies of these flyers were distributed over the weekend in some ridings in the Greater Toronto Area.

With files from The Canadian Press