Social conservatives expressing frustration

The Canadian Press
Shawn Jeffords

TORONTO–Prominent social conservatives within Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party say their voices are being ignored at this weekend’s policy convention, once again exposing cracks in a coalition that helped propel the party to a massive election win earlier this year.
Jack Fonseca of the social conservative group Campaign Life Coalition and Tanya Granic Allen, a parental rights advocate and former Tory leadership candidate, both expressed frustration that dozens of policy resolutions with a social conservative bent were blocked from being debated by party members at the event in Etobicoke, Ont.
The exclusion of the proposals has rekindled fears amongst some social conservatives that their voices once again will be marginalized, as they said the party had done under former leader Patrick Brown.
“Our take on this is that liberal-progressive elements within the party establishment that are corrupt and against democratic rights of party members have filtered out policy resolutions that were submitted by grassroots members,” Fonseca said, alleging party officials have “rigged” the debate.
Fonseca said the rejected proposals, which run the gamut from denouncing the Liberal sex-education curriculum to protecting so-called conscience rights for physicians, are in some cases actual policies Premier Doug Ford’s government currently is taking action on.
Fonseca pointed to one resolution that would affirm support for requiring parental consent in order to grant a minor an abortion.
Ford made headlines during his run for the Tory leadership by supporting the idea, at the time expressing his incredulity over other politicians’ fear of addressing the issue.
Fonseca said that resolution wouldn’t be debated on the weekend.
“Doug Ford said during the [leadership] campaign that he supported that kind of legislation,” he said.
“He ran on that. It helped him.”
Fonesca said Ford himself should intervene and ensure social conservatives have a voice during the policy debate.
If the premier doesn’t, he risks damaging the coalition that helped him win the spring vote, Fonseca warned.
“It will be seen by social conservatives as a betrayal by the party,” he said.
“I seriously believe it would put at risk a second-term majority government for the Ford PCs.”
Granic Allen, meanwhile, said a number of policy resolutions she submitted for debate also were rejected by the party.
“The majority of what one would describe as social conservative [policies] . . . just simply didn’t make it,” she noted.
“You’ll have to quiz the party as to why.
“But of course, we’re very sensitive because we’ve seen something similar a year ago when we saw these policies shuffled away at the Patrick Brown convention,” she added.
On Saturday, Granic Allen did propose a policy resolution on the province’s sex-education curriculum which was adopted by party members.
The resolution says the Tories should recognize gender identity as a “Liberal ideology” and remove it from Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum.
Party sources say while the resolution was passed, it is non-binding on the Ford government and passing it means it will be debated more formally at next year’s policy convention.
The resolution quickly was condemned by NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
“I’m appalled that the Ford Conservatives would endorse a resolution that attacks trans people and their rights,” Horwath said on Twitter.
“New Democrats stand with LGBTQ people against this dangerous position that drags our province backwards.”
Former premier Kathleen Wynne also slammed the resolution, calling it a “direct endorsement of discrimination” by Ford’s government and calling on the premier to denounce it.
“It is dangerous, reckless, and irresponsible for a political party to endorse discrimination and tell people that how they identify themselves is not real,” Wynne said in a statement.