Former Conservative candidate Heather Leung says she plans to run as an Independent in her riding of Burnaby North-Seymour, despite the fact her affiliation will still be listed as Conservative due to Elections Canada rules.
When a party kicks out a candidate after Elections Canada’s Sept. 30 deadline, their name still appears next to the party affiliation on printed ballots.
“I want everyone to know that you can still vote for me by putting a check mark by Heather Leung on the ballot even though Conservative appears by my name,” said Leung in a statement issued Monday.
Leung was booted from the party last week over comments she made about the LGBTQ community.
A statement from the Conservative party called her comments ‘offensive.’
She has been a vocal critic of sexual orientation and gender identity support groups in schools and has expressed support for conversion therapy in a video posted online.
Her late dismissal from the Conservative campaign also means the party can not field a new candidate in the riding.
“I think it could be misleading,” said Jordan Maguire, who lives in the riding. “I think at the end of the day you’re voting for the party more so than the candidate.”
‘Basically forfeited the riding’
Experts say if Leung ends up winning, she won’t have the party’s support behind her.
“This is a situation no party wants to find themselves in, particularity after nominations have closed or in the last half of the campaign,” said University of Victoria political science professor Michael Prince.
“You have basically forfeited the riding … if they do win, they would sit in the House of Commons as an Independent.”
Prince said this could also leave an ample opportunity for other parties to scoop up votes.
“There’s still a chance that the candidate will draw significant votes of Conservative voters,” he said.
“You have to wonder what it might mean for the PPC (People’s Party of Canada), which … might appeal to disgruntled Conservative voters, who now feel like they don’t have a candidate to vote for.”
Leung’s campaign team said it still plans to continue campaigning but did not offer a direct response to the Conservative Party’s statement.
“We’re still trying to provide as much clarity for everyone as possible. This is a very weird situation for us,” said Travis Trost, Leung’s campaign manager.