Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Doug Ford is standing by his man.

Amid calls for a Progressive Conservative MPP’s resignation over homophobic statements in a church publication he oversaw, Ford insists Will Bouma is not anti-gay.

Ford defended the first-term MPP and suggested the accusations against Bouma were fabricated.

“Let me tell you, anyone who knows Will – and knows his family – knows that those are not his views,” the Tory leader told reporters in Hamilton on Wednesday.

“He had no involvement, I repeat, he had no involvement in this article,” said Ford.

“Will Bouma, he’s a credible person, credible man and incredible family. He just does not believe in that and he did not do it. I do not know who’s making this stuff up. ”

Bouma (Brantford-Brant), an executive on the Christian Reform Church committee that published the controversial Youth Messenger magazine before he was elected in 2018, also distanced himself from the religious periodical.

“I am a proud, loving, and supportive father to a daughter who is a member of the LGBTQ community,” Bouma said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“My views are clear, I support the rights of all of my constituents regardless of orientation. I had no involvement in writing these articles, ”he said.

His daughter, Lena Bouma, weighed in herself on Wednesday.

“I’m proud to be gay. I love my dad… and he loves me, ”she tweeted.

“He understands that being gay is not a choice and supports each and every one of his queer constituents. What I think is dangerous is stereotyping people based on their faith background… ”

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca – who fired two candidates himself last week for past remarks about homosexuality – said Tory Leader Doug Ford should drop Bouma immediately.

“It’s deeply, deeply offensive,” Del Duca told reporters at a campaign stop in Eglinton-Lawrence, a PC hero riding his party hopes to win back June 2.

“It has no place in the tolerant, respectful Ontario we are trying to build.”

In Kingston, NDP leader Andrea Horwath even said though Bouma’s daughter is gay, “it does not excuse anything” in a magazine he helped to run.

“It is inexcusable and it should never have happened,” said Horwath.

“Love is love and we’re all equal,” she said, denouncing “these hateful beliefs” embraced by some.

According to a report in Press Progress, a publication funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, the Youth Messenger magazine urged young people to reject “the homosexual lifestyle.”

The publication also promoted the discredited and, as of last year, illegal practice of “conversion therapy.”

It has also claimed that “homosexuality has always been considered a sin, even a grievous one” and railed against “adultery, fornication, uncleanness and lasciviousness,” likening them to “witchcraft.”

Local NDP candidate and former teachers’ union president Harvey Bischof said while Bouma may not have written the articles in question, he was a key part of the publication that did.

“For (constituents) to find their representative at Queen’s Park has espoused views that in my opinion are hateful, they are hurtful they are harmful, I just do not think we have a place for that here in this community,” said Bischof.

“I have not heard him denounce those views – he did not denounce them when he was leading the committee overseeing the magazine that oversaw those articles,” he said.

“What I saw in his tweet was a very narrow denial of responsibility – he says had no hand in writing the articles and that’s really not the point,” said the former Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation president.

“The question is whether he personally put pen to paper, it’s whether he has stood up in support of the community and denounced what his church is saying, and I see no record of that.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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