PC leader Patrick Brown's reversal on sex education helps a Scarborough-Rouge River candidate
Patrick Brown’s reversal on Ontario’s sex education curriculum has given a sudden boost to at least one candidate running in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection.
Queenie Yu, an independent basing her byelection campaign on rejection of the Liberal government’s changes to the lessons, says she’s been flooded this week with donations and volunteers.
And it’s all because the Progressive Conservative leader, whose party circulated a letter through the riding announcing his promise to “scrap” the new curriculum, now says that was a mistake.
“Families are telling me that they are angry at Patrick Brown. They feel that they have been lied to,” Yu said Tuesday, after Brown took pains in interviews to distance himself and PCs from the Aug. 24 letter.
Yu, appealing to people in the riding who think the updated curriculum introduced last fall is “age-inappropriate,” said she was delighted when she saw the letter, which Brown signed.
“I was happy! I said, ‘Finally he’s listening.’”
By Monday, however, Brown was denying in the Toronto Star that he would “scrap” the controversial changes.
“This is not what I will do. In fact, the opposite is true,” he wrote, saying it was important to update the curriculum, and later stating he didn’t want anyone voting in Scarborough-Rouge River under a false impression of what his position is.
Yu said some residents of the riding are taking the news hard, even calling for Brown’s ouster as PC leader. “They like the Progressive Conservative Party; they don’t like him.”
Cho, a city councillor and former social worker, was asked Tuesday to comment on the reversal but didn’t.
Neither did Piragal Thiru, the northeast Scarborough riding’s Liberal candidate, but Markham-Unionville MPP Michael Chan, also a Liberal, called for Brown to send a letter to every household which got the original.
“I want to remind Patrick Brown that his English letter to the Toronto Star will not be read by the thousands of people in Scarborough-Rouge River who received translated copies of his promise at their doorstep,” Chan said.
“This riding has a huge majority of voters who don’t speak English as their first language.”
Neethan Shan, the New Democratic candidate and a public school trustee, said a government’s first job is to protect students.
“That’s why it was time to update the Health and Physical Education curriculum to ensure it will keep kids safe and provide appropriate resources to teachers and parents,” Shan said in a statement Tuesday. “Going forward, it’s also important for the government to engage in ongoing dialogue with parents and education professionals to ensure the curriculum remains up-to-date.”
Residents vote in the byelection to replace ex-MPP Bas Balkissoon this Thursday, Sept. 1.