Where have all the good ones gone

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Local candidates apparently undergo a screening process similar to that of a Walmart cashier, and that’s a problem. 

We all dodged a bullet today when a Conservative candidate who supports gay conversion therapy was dumped, but his five minutes of fame raises the question of why he was ever a candidate in the first place.

This election has seen many candidates resign after unsavory facts were unearthed about their past — from a urinary incident caught on camera to a myriad of unwise remarks on social media — but Jagdish Grewal hit a particularly sensitive nerve. 

The Conservative candidate wrote an editorial earlier this year entitled “Is it wrong for a homosexual to become a normal person?”, arguing that gay youth  should have access to services that “strengthen their natural heterosexuality”. 

Allowing candidates to express their own personal views is undoubtedly valuable for voters. Before choosing an MP, we should know if they’re likely to espouse dangerous views that are contrary to our values. 

Furthermore, bringing these issues to light allows us to address them openly, as the Conservative party did in their statement disavowing Grewal’s views — which stated the party’s belief that “all Canadians — regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation — deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.” 

But in the current political climate that hinges on wedge issues like the niqab debate, we have to be careful about what our politicians can get away with saying.

In an interview, Grewal cited complaints of people in his riding about Ontario’s new and controversial sex ed curriculum, saying that it’s their biggest concern. 

But as a federal candidate, Grewal would have no jurisdiction over a provincially-established curriculum. His claim sounds more like an attempt to play off people’s fears — sound familiar? — and capitalize off a hot-button topic. 

And, in silencing Grewal’s distorted attempt to represent the views of his riding, we’re unfortunately silencing many others whose voices are rarely heard in the Canadian political arena. This close to the election, he can’t be replaced.

Parties have a responsibility to put forward viable candidates.When we narrow down our choices, we limit our democratic freedom to choose.  

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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