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Canada Conservative Party leadership candidate Richard Décarie

OTTAWA, January 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — An aspiring candidate for Canada’s Conservative Party leadership race sent shockwaves through the media this week and was denounced as “bigoted” by prominent people in his own party after stating on national television that being “gay” is a choice and that abortion is not health care.

But pro-life Quebecer Richard Décarie says people have expressed privately to him the views he is stating publicly, and that they deserve a voice in the Conservative Party.

A strategic communication consultant, Décarie was deputy chief of staff to Stephen Harper when the former prime minister was leader of Canada’s official opposition, and before that, was chief of staff and senior adviser to Daniel Johnson Jr, when the latter was premier of Quebec.

Décarie told Evan Solomon on CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday that he is planning to enter the race as a social conservative candidate. Former Tory leader Andrew Scheer “didn’t defend” his socially conservative views on same-sex “marriage” and abortion,“and that’s where the problem started.  … I think if you are a social conservative and it’s part of the Conservative spectrum, you need to address that,” he said.

Former Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost, an outspoken pro-life advocate who came fourth in the 2017 Tory leadership race, is chair of Décarie’s campaign.

Under the party’s stringent new rules, candidates must have the support of 3,000 people who have been party members for 21 days before they sign the candidate’s nomination papers, with 1,000 signatures due by February 27, and the rest by March 25. Candidates must also pay a $200,000 entry fee and a $100,000 compliance deposit.

Décarie told Solomon he would remove abortion from publicly funded health insurance plans because “it’s not health care.”

He also said that “my point of view is that marriage is exclusive to a man and a woman.”

When Solomon pressed him on the last point, Décarie commented, “I think ‘LGBTQ’ is a Liberal term. I don’t talk about people that way, I talk about persons, and I think we all need the full respect for being a human being.”

“Do you think (being homosexual), that’s a choice, or do you think it’s biological?” Solomon asked.

“I think it’s a choice,” Décarie said. “How people are behaving is one thing. I think government has a responsibility to encourage the traditional values we had in the past years. That’s the kind of so-con issues I would bring as a leader.”

Décarie must realize he is “off-side from his own party on this,” Solomon said. 

At a party convention in 2016, delegates voted 1,036-462 to delete a long-standing Conservative Party policy that defined marriage as a “union of one man and one woman.” 

But Décarie said he has spoken to many Canadians who share his views.

“When we discuss one-on-one, they tell you the reality of their own life,” he said. 

“I encounter a lot of discussion, where people were saying one thing publicly and another thing privately, so I think it’s important that we get a voice in that party that we are not hearing from, unfortunately.”

Décarie reiterated this the next day to Vassy Kapelos of CBC’s Power & Politics.

He reiterated, too, that abortion should be defunded.

Top-level Tories immediately repudiated Décarie’s views, with some opining that he should be banned from running for statements that Conservative strategist Korey Teneycke described as “nakedly bigoted.”

But Trost suggested that “a lot of people are concerned Richard is going to do well in the leadership race.”

Tories denouncing Décarie’s statements included MP Pierre Poilievre, who unexpectedly called off his leadership bid on Thursday, and declared candidate and presumed front-runner former Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay, who tweeted: “Being gay is not a choice and nobody should be running for office on a platform to roll back hard-won rights.” 

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner, rumoured to be considering a leadership run,  tweeted that she would not serve in a caucus under Décarie.

And Alberta MP Garnett Genuis, who has a pro-life voting record, dismissed Décarie on Twitter as unknown entity who has taken an “easy path to notoriety.”

Genuis also appeared on Power Play with declared candidate Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu to further weigh in on the matter.

Gladu opined that prospective candidates must “adhere to the party policy,” although she stated that “social conservatives have a place in the party,” and that “there’s nothing wrong with his opinions … it’s how we treat each other.”

“He’s not going to win, that’s the bottom line,” observed Genuis. 

As for same-sex “marriage,” Genuis said “in general” Conservative MPs “would support preserving the civil institution of marriage for all couples, heterosexual and homosexual couples,” even though they might “within their own faith traditions” have a “religious definition of marriage in this context (that) is something different.”

Décarie told CBC’s Kapelos that he’s taking things one step at a time.

“Let’s debate inside the party. If one-third of the party members agree with my position, we will see it through the campaign and that will be a debate in itself. After that, if I win, we will see where it will lead us as the official opposition,” he said.

Meanwhile, rookie Ontario MP Derek Sloan is another social conservative who announced this week that he plans to run for leadership, the National Post reported.

Campaign Life is urging Canadians to buy a Conservative Party membership by April 17 in order to be eligible to vote for the next leader.

Feb. 5, 2020 correction: This article originally stated Décarie was senior advisor to Quebec Premier Jean Charest. LifeSiteNews regrets the error.