Ottawa

Tories say Gallant's remarks 'not party policy'

Conservatives were forced to trot out their "not party policy" comments again Sunday to distance themselves from another Conservative candidate's controversial remarks.

Conservatives were forced to trot out their "not party policy" comments again Sunday to distance themselves from another Conservative candidate's controversial remarks.

In an interview with CTV News, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant said Canada's newly amended hate law should be repealed.

Gallant said adding "sexual orientation" to the list of groups protected from hate crimes creates a problem.

"The danger in having sexual orientation just listed — that encompasses, for example, pedophiles," Gallant said.

"I believe that the caucus as a whole would like to see it repealed," she said.

But — just as the Conservative campaign machine quickly distanced itself from members who spoke out on abortion, bilingualism and the death penalty — Conservative House leader John Reynolds told CTV's Question Period that Gallant was expressing her own beliefs, which she is free to do.

"During a campaign, candidates are going to make comments. These things happen," he said.

"Candidates will say things for whatever reason in their own riding. But it's not a major issue with our party."

Canadians for Equal Marriage, a group that is actively tracking candidates' positions on same-sex issues, disagreed.

"First they say they would override our Charter protection against discrimination so they can take away our right to civil marriage," Alex Munter, co-chairman of Canadians for Equal Marriage, said in a statement.

"Then Mr. Harper makes jokes after a gay man is punched before his eyes at a Conservative rally. Now they want to change the law to deny us protection against hate crimes. What's next?"

Reynolds said the Conservative Party does not intend to repeal the law.

"I'm the House leader, and I've seen no line-up of letters in my office asking us to repeal that law. It's a bill that passed the House of Commons.

"[Gallant] will have every right to bring that up with a new caucus in Ottawa, which will be greater in numbers. But it's certainly not something that is going to get us off an agenda," Reynolds says.

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