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Scheer stands by party's vetting process after Conservatives drop B.C. candidate over 'offensive' comments

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer gives thumbs up as he heads off the streets during a campaign stop in Newcastle, Ont., On Saturday, October 5, 2019.

JONATHAN HAYWARD / The Canadian Press

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he was still confident in his party's vetting process the day after dropping a candidate who made what his campaign described as "offensive" comments.

The Conservatives announced Friday evening that Heather Leung would no longer represent the party in Burnaby North-Seymour.

For the first time in the campaign, Mr. Scheer planned to avoid the media entirely on Saturday, with no plans to take questions from reporters. But as Mr. Scheer walked quickly to his bus after a campaign stop in Newcastle, where he faced repeated questions about his party's vetting process.

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Mr. Scheer's plan to dodge questions from reporters comes after weeks of repeated questions about his dual Canadian-U.S. Citizenship, his position against abortion, and his party's decision to turf Ms. Leung.

"We ask our candidates to be open and forthcoming and when we become aware of things that are inappropriate, we take appropriate action," said Mr. Scheer, as he continued walking.

When asked how losing the candidate will affect the party, Mr. Scheer said, "I think the statement speaks for itself on that."

The party issued a statement on Friday night: “Recent media reports have brought to light offensive comments made by Ms. Leung says 'homosexuals recruit' children, describing the sexual orientation of the LGBTQ community as 'perverted.' ”

"There is no tolerance in the Conservative Party for those kinds of offensive comments."

Earlier Friday, New Democrat candidate Svend Robinson, Canada's first openly gay parliamentarian, said Mr. Scheer needed to act against Ms. Leung. Later he said it was the “right decision obviously” to part with Ms. Leung.

Meanwhile, Jaime Battiste, the Liberal candidate in the Nova Scotia riding of Sydney-Victoria, issued an apology after the Toronto Sun shared racist and sexist remarks he had made on social media.

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Mr. Battiste told the newspaper he had said those things during tough times in his life, and that his views had changed.

Mr. Scheer spent Saturday making a few campaign stops in Ontario. In the morning he was a guest of honor at the official opening of what was called the largest Buddhist temple outside China. Mr. Scheer was welcomed by hundreds of Buddhist worshipers who were celebrating the temple at Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden outside Peterborough.

The temple's president, Dayi Shi, introduced Mr. Scheer translated his last name into Chinese, saying it meant "calm mind gives rise to wisdom."

Mr. Scheer's campaign stopped at The Pizza Factory, a restaurant in Peterborough, and the Newcastle Harvest Festival, before heading to the Toronto airport where the team's plane is bound for Ottawa.

The latest national numbers from Nanos Research show the Liberals have 36 per cent support among respondents, with the Conservatives at 33 per cent. The NDP is at 16 per cent, followed by the Greens at 7 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 6 per cent and the People's Party at 2 per cent.

The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Oct. 2 to 4. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: If a federal election were held today, could you rank your top two current local voting preferences? ”A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at tgam.ca/election-polls.

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With a report from The Canadian Press.

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