An internal report circulated within Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party in the fall of 2016 says that Ghada Melek, this year’s federal Tory candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville, made a number of homophobic posts on Facebook that played a role in her eventually dropping out of the nomination race.
Melek was seeking the PC nomination for her riding (also called Mississauga-Streetsville) at the time and dropped out just days after the report was prepared.
VICE obtained a copy of the report through someone familiar with the party’s nomination proceedings in 2016. The source says that the document was prepared by Michael Oberman, now a research consultant at Delve LLC, who was tasked with doing background checks on several nomination candidates, including Melek. (Oberman did not respond to a request for comment.)
The report was prepared for Nov. 29, said the source. Melek dropped out of the nomination race just a few days before the Dec. 5 vote.
The National Post also reported that the PC party came across a number of Melek’s tweet from 2013-14 that cited articles from a number of Islamophobic outlets, some of which crudely warned against the influence of Islam and Islamists in the West.
Rejected by the party
Another source, who worked at the time as a paid organizer for the PC party (then under the leadership of Patrick Brown), said that Melek’s application to be a nominee for her riding was rejected by the nominations committee due “to a mix of reasons,” and that her homophobic online posts played a role in the final decision.
The source also confirmed that Melek’s tweets about Islam and Muslims also played a role in the party rejecting her initial nomination application in 2016.
“She came up to me for advice at one point for how to run a campaign and that’s how I met her,” the former organizer said. “You would never feel like she harbored any of these views just by talking to her.”
Melek has since deleted her tweets as well as Facebook posts. She also told the National Post that she was not rejected in 2016 for the nomination, but resigned over unspecified personal reasons.
“Andrew Scheer says all the time that his party isn’t open to hate,” the former PC party organizer said. “But, on the ground, someone who’s openly homophobic and Islamophobic can become a candidate—it’s hypocritical.” Scheer’s office did not reply to requests for comment.
Melek, a financial adviser and long-time Mississauga resident, sought the nomination in lieu of the 2018 Ontario election. Another candidate, Nina Tangri, eventually won that nomination and the riding itself.
The Oberman report makes three main points about Melek, each accompanied by links her now-deleted Facebook posts.
The first point says that Melek “endorses commercial non-accomodation for gay people.” The second says she “endorses legal non-accomodation for gay people.” Both imply that she endorsed the right for people or businesses to refuse service to those from the LGBT community based on their sexual orientation or lifestyle choices.
A third point says that Melek, “Endorses a medical expert who has backed reparative therapy for gay people.”
This last point also links to a page of the “expert” in question: a woman named Miriam Grossman, who, in a 2013 post, wrote that she was “captivated” by the “strength and integrity” of gay men who chose to “fight their same sex attraction.”
Melek wrote in an email response to VICE that her online posts were meant to critique the sex-ed curriculum, “like tens of thousands of Ontario parents” also did.
“I’m proud to be part of the Conservative Party of Canada, a party that supports the LGBTQ community,” she wrote. “I absolutely oppose any so-called therapy or treatment that forces someone to try and change their sexual orientation against their will.” She stopped short of denying that she wrote the Facebook posts cited in the report and did not reply to a follow-up question to clarify.
Additionally, the report also says that Melek is “Very clearly too radical on the sex-ed curriculum issue, and gay people in general.” It then directs readers to a now-deleted PowerPoint presentation that Melek gave on the Kathleen Wynne sex-ed curriculum. Ironically, the PC party, under both Brown and Doug Ford, has largely been critical of Wynne’s curriculum, although Brown flip-floppedon it.
The source who forwarded VICE a copy of the report also sent over an email that Melek sent to her supporters last October addressing the large presence of “militant LGBT activists” at a telephone town hall on sexual education organized by the Ford government.
In the email, Melek warns that “radical sex activist supporters” are better organized and more motivated than parents and are hellbent on rescuing the Wynne-era sex-ed curriculum. She implores parents to participate in the next phone town hall.
The email also lists a number of topics in the the Wynne-era sex-ed curriculum that Melek thinks must be axed; everything from “romantic dating” to “anal sex.”
The PC Party did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
A recurring problem
This isn’t the first time that the federal Conservatives or a provincial Tory party has been linked to homophobic, racist, and Islamophobic rhetoric or figures.
Andrew Scheer himself, the leader of the Conservative Party, controversially spoke at the same “United We Roll” rally in Ottawa as far-right figure Faith Goldy. His excuse was they spoke at very different times during the rally and did not share a stage.
The party’s current campaign manager going into this fall’s federal election is Hamish Marshall, a former director of Rebel Media. Marshall also helped Scheer win the party’s leadership race two years ago.
Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP), led by Jason Kenny, swept into power this year after having to drop a number of candidates due to troubling remarks. Eva Kiryakos, a candidate from Calgary, tweeted how Muslims are committing “Christian genocide” in the Middle East and stepped down. Caylan Ford, a star candidate for Kenney, resigned after a former colleague exposed texts from conversations where Ford lamented the “replacement of white peoples in their homelands.” The UCP’s Mark Smith was criticized over a 2013 sermon where he denied that homosexuals can engage in “good love.”
While conservative party leaders have condemned racism and homophobia, this has been contrasted by the words and actions of some of their foot soldiers. Melek’s candidacy seems to fit this overall pattern.
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