Doré Bak

Vote for a “Felon-Thief” or Vote for a “Homophobe”: Svend Robinson vs Heather Leung in Electoral Race for Member of Parliament

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The electoral race for Member Parliament has turned into an ugly display of dirty mud slinging and character assassination in Burnaby North-Seymour. A couple of old videos reveals the Conservative Party candidate Heather Leung speaking out against the lifestyle and preferences of LGBTQ2 people. On October 4, 2019, her rival NDP candidate Svend Robinson held a news conference showing a video of her from 2011 when she represented a parents’ group against the Burnaby School Board policy of instruction called Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). He described her comments as offensive and hateful. This transformed the political dynamic from debates about policies and legislative abilities of the candidates to rants about their moral character. Mrs. Leung quickly lost ground in the polls from being a close second to Liberal incumbent Terry Beech to a distant fourth place. Svend then replaced her contending for first place in the polls. The former MP Svend Robinson led a virtual mob calling for the Conservative Party to drop her as their candidate for Member of Parliament of Burnaby North-Seymour. My article delves deeper into the question of their moral characters.

Mrs. Leung made comments in two past videos that many folks, Liberals and Conservatives alike, labelled as homophobic and transphobic. Mrs. Leung, to be clear, committed no crime. She did not call for the destruction of transgender or homosexual people, even though she disapproved strongly of their life style and sexual preferences. There is no evidence that she even disliked LGBTQ2 people. She only made comments that offend a significant segment of society.

On the other hand, theft over $5,000 in Canada is an “indictable offence”. This is the sanitized terminology adopted in some common law jurisdictions like Canada. Criminal offences in this category are the most heinous of crimes. Theft over $5,000 is listed among indictable offences such as sexual assault, physical assault, and murder. Americans know this category of indictable offences as felonies, retaining the original moniker from English common law.

Svend would have us forget his committing an indictable theft that created such a scandal back in 2004. At the time, he felt compelled to drop his run for re-election as Member of Parliament.

For those who have forgotten the details about the felony theft that he committed in 2004, here is a recap. He first visited a jeweler, shopping for a gift for his lover, a Cuban man he met in Cuba, but Svend left without purchasing anything. The owner of the jewelry store was a gay Muslim man and gay rights activist named Shahraz Kassam. When asked about Svend’s mental state of mind, he told a reporter, saying, “It’s almost laughable. He was perfectly fine. He was like any person looking for a nice, special gift.” Days later at a different location, an auction, Svend was caught on closed circuit television camera stealing a ring. The value of this ring is estimated to be more than what the average Canadian would earn in an entire year according to excerpts from the proceedings of the Honourable Judge R.D. Fratkin (a.k.a., Ronald or Ron Fratkin).

After Svend returned the ring, the auction services dealer decided not to press any charges against Svend Robinson. The Crown attorney did not share the same feelings and proceeded with an indictment against Svend Robinson. Judge Fratkin agreed with the defence counsel that Svend suffered a mental disorder at the time of the theft, and ordered his release under the condition to perform community service. The judge acknowledged that Svend had a sparkling history of charitable, volunteer work for the community prior to his fall from grace. Svend’s punishment was to perform work that he loves to do in any event.

The public was right to feel suspicious about any lenient judgment in regards to the felony committed by a politician, but Svend had checked off almost all the boxes of the virtuous man in the world of the progressive Left and his fall hit many of his followers hard. Years earlier, in a display of courage, Svend came out of the closet as a gay man while he was a Member of Parliament. He championed the rights of minorities. He fought for the environment. He gained world renown in his support of Indigenous peoples. His only shortcoming in the progressive hierarchy was that he shared the same skin colour of the white patriarchy, which the progressive Left view as toxic and the reason for many of today’s social ills such as the remaining vestiges of colonialism and white privilege. His sexual preference for men mitigated somewhat this shortcoming in the progressive hierarchy. His championing for the rights of coloured folks surely would overcome his whiteness? May be. May be not. He was nonetheless a member of a protected minority group under Canadian human rights legislation.

I am puzzled why the social justice mob does not apply intersectionality here in the case of Heather Leung. She has three pluses in her favor according to the social justice hierarchy. She is a woman. She is an immigrant. She is a person of colour. She has in her favour then gender, minority and race. Two of these are even enshrined in human rights legislation. Svend Robinson has only the attribute of gender in his favour, as he is a member of the LGBTQ2 community. The social justice hierarchy though is no figment of the imagination of the progressive mind. Perhaps being a member of the LGBTQ2 is more deserving of protection and veneration than any other minority group. Is the virtue of a gay man superior to a Chinese female immigrant? Perhaps her profession of traditional Canadian values and her choice of the Christian religion made her a proxy of white supremacy in the eye of the progressives.

The Left often argue that any white man, even progressives such as Svend Robinson, nonetheless has accrued white privilege. If he were black or brown, he would not get a second chance from the Crown. The white patriarchy created our judicial system after all, did it not? Our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likely think so as evidenced by his derision for the Canadian court system when the courts acquitted a white farmer who shot an Indigenous teenager trespassing on his property.

There was evidence that the white patriarchy was well and alive on August 6, 2004 in B.C. Provincial Court when Svend Robinson had his case heard before Judge Fratkin. Perhaps, it was not exactly the Old Boys Club, but it certainly was the New Boys Club. The old curmudgeons such as the Hanging Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie had long disappeared like old dinosaurs and now replaced by progressive minded men. The New Boys Club was still a club of old white men but with new members from the ranks of the left of centre on the political spectrum.

Four men wrote letters for the Court, pleading leniency for Svend. Except for one, all were white men. The one exception was among the most world renown in the progressive world–Dr. David Suzuki. A case could be made though that, as with 20th century apartheid South Africa, Japanese were viewed as token whites in 21st century Canada, especially a Japanese Canadian who tows the progressive line.

In the transcript excerpt of the trial, former judge and NDP Member of Parliament Tom Berger headed the roster of the New Boys Club of progressive men providing letters in support of Svend’s moral character. Judge Fratkin mentioned former Ontario NDP Leader Stephen Lewis as the second member of the New Boys Club to plead in writing for Svend. The barrister and solicitor friend of Svend, Wayne Moore provided the third letter of commendation to Judge Fratkin.

The judge did acknowledge an alternate narrative behind Svend’s exhibition of appropriate and remorseful behaviour, Svend’s turning himself in to police and pleading guilty were all for show only, and that he was merely mitigating a lost cause. Perhaps, he suddenly realized that there was CCTV at the auction, the scene of the crime, after he had committed the act. He had no option but to confess and throw himself at the mercy of the courts. He knew how the system worked; he was a lawyer after all, trained in the very system created by the white patriarchy.

The judge chose to believe in the narrative of Svend being honestly remorseful. He based his judgment on evidence of the four members of the New Boys Club. Judge Fratkin accepts the narrative that Svend was under pressure doing too much good work for Humankind and suffered a mental disorder as a result. The Crown attorneys presented no evidence to support their alternate narrative of Svend being remorseful only because Svend had no option once he realized there was CCTV at the crime scene. Why the Crown did not have Mr. Shahraz Kassam, the jeweler, testify on Sven’s good mental health a few days before the theft is a bit of a mystery. Incidentally, the Crown prosecutor was also a white male. I wonder what the renowned trial lawyer from Ontario, Marie Henein, would do if she were Crown prosecutor on this case?

The judge gave Svend a conditional discharge. The conditions were to perform 100 hours of volunteer work and to check in regularly with a probation officer for a year. There was also the standard order requesting Svend to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. The result was that Svend was guilty of felony theft but at the same time received no criminal record. Such is the quirk in the law. For those readers interested, Judge Fratkin referenced Section 730 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

In the Court of Public Opinion, Mrs. Leung was not as fortunate. Mrs. Leung was not guilty of any crime under the Criminal Code and was never hauled before a criminal court as Svend was in 2004. Saying offensive words and having offensive emotions cannot be prosecuted under the Criminal Code. This includes emotions and expressions of hate. The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit hate and its expression. In fact, it protects the right to feel hatred and to express it. Common law in Canada follows a similar interpretation of its constitutional law but the Canadian Criminal Code does have a provision on hate propaganda.

Section 318 of the Canadian Criminal Code contains the clauses on “hate propaganda”, but this section is defined narrowly for cases in which the propaganda specifically calls for the killing or destruction of any specific group based on the definition of protected groups. Expression of hate towards a specific group simply does not cut it as a crime. This section requires the consent of the Attorney General in order for the Crown to proceed charging anyone with this indictable offence. Under this section, the alleged perpetrator must be proven to have published material calling for the killing or physical destruction of a definable group of people.

In the Court of Public Opinion in 2019, any speech or expression in public perceived as offensive is deemed punishable. The P.C. Mob defines vindictive punishment as “consequences”. Under Politically Correct Mob “rules”, the speaker of offensive speech receives the consequence of being de-platformed. Unlike a criminal court, the P.C. Mob does not ask for evidence of the motivation behind Mrs. Leung’s offensive words. Until after the Conservative Leader fired her, she was not given an opportunity even to mount a defence of a mental disorder, not that she would likely do so, but it is the principle of justice and fairness that I am interested here. In the Court of Public Opinion, the P.C. Mob does not consider if there is any mitigating circumstances in the same manner that the provincial judge exercised in the Richmond Provincial Court where former M.P. Svend Robinson was tried for felony theft.

What were the statements that some members of the public and press found so offensive? Moreover, was she even motivated by hate when she spoke those words?

One of the most controversial phrases making the rounds and attributed to Heather Leung is, “homosexuals recruit kids,” or variants of it. She never said this exact phrase but what she said comes close enough. Starting around the 3:10 minute mark of the 2011 video (posted on YouTube December 12, 2013), Heather Leung said, “The school board and the people who draft this policy are digging a deep, dark pit for the next generation. Because these homosexual people, they cannot reproduce the next generation. They recruit more people and more people into their camp. So, this is not fair. They are our children.”

I remember my own foray into the world of evangelical churches. Kids were recruited there for Sunday school or church services. They were not kidnapped or anything like that, but church members encouraged their children to bring their friends to church activities. Likely Mrs. Leung did the same in her church. Evangelism is recruiting in the name of Christ. Little did she know the usage of the two words “recruit” and “kids” in another context connote child sex rings and pimps grooming young girls in the sex trade. I suspect this is how progressives read into the phrase “homosexuals recruit kids”.

It is obvious Mrs. Leung opposes the lifestyle or preferences of homosexual or transgender people. This is a religious position that she takes. Her belief is evident in the two video clips circulating the Internet as proof of how horrible Mrs. Leung is as a human being. They show her as a Christian of the evangelical bent. In other words, she relies on an interpretation of the Bible that holds homosexual acts as sinful acts. Sadly, some Christians take such interpretation as permission to hate folks who are of a different persuasion on gender issues they deem opposite to their Biblical beliefs and interpretations. Other Christians hold to the belief that homosexual behavior is sinful but do not hate the practitioner of such behavior. A simplistic but often heard meme in evangelical circles is, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” The LGBTQ2 community may not trust the speaker of this meme, but these Christians intend no harm or hate toward anyone LGBTQ2. Which of the two camps of Christians does Mrs. Leung’s allegiance belong?

Before I answer this last question, a comment on the rapid speed in which the Internet social justice warriors automatically assumed Mrs. Leung hates LGBTQ2 people. Referring to her as transphobic or homophobic connotes hatred and/or fear of transgender or homosexual people. It is unfortunate that such terms as “transphobe” and “homophobe” have entered into the vocabulary of daily speech. The label of “homophobe” means that not only is a person against homosexuality but she also hates homosexual people. The same for the term “transphobe.” Anyone labeled as such is assumed to hate transgender people. The notion that anyone can be both loving of LGBTQ2 people and yet opposing LGBTQ2 ideas of life style and gender ideology is rendered impossible in the current social justice mind set.

A majority of the news articles on the Internet in recent days running up to the federal election day describe Mrs. Leung as homophobic or transphobic. Her making statements that the LGBTQ2 community finds offensive automatically condemns her as a person too vile and heinous to be given a public platform by “normal” citizens. This is one of the methods totalitarian governments use to silence their opponents. Anyone who disagrees with state ideology, then give them a vile and hideous label. In Mao Tse-tung’s time, the dirty labels include “capitalist” or “landlord”. During the 1950s, at the height of Joseph McCarthy’s political repression and fear mongering, the label “communist” would frighten Americans. In the Middle Ages, when the Roman Catholic Church had rule over secular life, people were terrified of being labeled a “heretic”, because torture or death could be right around the corner. Just because a person does not share values with the LGBTQ2 community does not make that person so evil that he or she be deleted from public discourse. It is so convenient for a politician to accuse his opponent of transphobia or homophobia and see if it sticks. If it does stick as in the case of Mrs. Leung, then the opponent is “dead meat”, according to Svend in an interview (at 2:29 minutes) after he first started the bandwagon labelling her as homophobic.

The second video showing Mrs. Leung speaking out against LGBTQ2 sexuality is over 41 minutes long and is posted by the Vancouver Sun newspaper on YouTube under the title “Conversion Therapy”. It has been referenced as evidence of her being transphobic and homophobic. The tone of many articles on Heather Leung portray her not only as someone who dislike LGBTQ2 people but also as someone who hates them. A careful viewing of this documentary though shows just the opposite. Mrs. Leung was not hateful of LGBTQ2 community despite opposing their perspectives on sexuality. Its original title is “Interview with Rob and Susan,” a documentary by Heather Leung. Despite the revised title, this video documentary is not about conversion therapy at all. The principal subject Susan Takata was a transgender male (a biological female identifying as male) who was already dealing with the issue of being both transgender and Christian. Although not explicit, it seems that she eventually overcame any struggles with her transgender issues and accepted the Genesis version of the creation of humans as men and women. The journalists at the Vancouver Sun saw it appropriate to call the process described in the documentary as “conversion therapy”, contrary to the subject matter of the video.

Conversion therapy is a method of psychological therapy that its proponents claim would “cure” a gay or transgender person and convert them into a heterosexual person whose gender is identical to their biological sex. Some of the methods used in conversion therapy are clearly unhealthy and even dangerous. I am not aware of any conversion therapy that is effective in converting a transgender or homosexual person to a heterosexual person. Svend insinuated that Mrs. Leung supports conversion therapy in his first press conference to oust her as the Conservative candidate. It is clear he was selective in the use of the 41-minute video in alleging Mrs. Leung’s hatred for LGBTQ2 people, if he even watched the whole video.

Daphne Bramham, in my opinion a very capable journalist, for the Vancouver Sun wrote an article entitled “Candidates’ views on conversion therapy, abortion raise questions about Scheer’s promise to leave social issues alone”. In it, commenting on the 41-minute video, Bramham erroneously writes, “Leung interviewed Susan Takata, who once believed she was meant to be a male, and Rob Bruce, the counsellor who convinced her that she was neither transgender nor gay.” This contrasts with the content in the video. Starting after the 14-minute mark, Bruce insisted that his counseling involves being a good listener, not using labels and loving the person in front of him without judgment. I suggest Bramham listen to the entire video again and see if she can find any definitive evidence of Bruce attempting to convince Takata to change her gender identity at all. The documentary video is simply an account of one Christian with transgender issues trying to find her identity. At most, the pastor/counselor shared his own identity issues with Susan Takata and Heather Leung. Takata was well on her own path to self-discovery.

That Mrs. Leung was willing to attach her name to this documentary and to have Chinese subtitles inserted for Chinese viewers to appreciate the non-judgmental approach of Rob Bruce in his counseling practice. This shows that Mrs. Leung was won-over, if she was not already a convert, to this counselor’s approach of not judging transgender and homosexual people, not labeling them, not using psychological manipulation, and loving them as they are.

The mainstream media, in particular, the Burnaby Now staff, have cut and paste from the two videos snippets of Mrs. Leung’s remarks into a narrative of her as a vile and hate-filled woman who deliberately attacks the LGBTQ community. Even weirder is the Conservative leader who denounces her as too offensive to be allowed to run as one of the Conservative Party’s candidates. Andrew Scheer obeys the machinations of Svend Robinson’s call for her removal as a candidate for the Conservative Party. If the leadership in the Conservative Party had reviewed Mrs. Leung’s remarks in full, they would find she upheld traditional Christian values. The 41-minute video shows evidence of her learning to love folks who are transgender and gay, and at the same time, she rejects their stance on gender issues. This is toleration of religious viewpoints.

The LGBTQ2 community is not necessarily a religious community but their view of gender issues has a religious parallel with my own religion, Roman Catholicism. Here, I have in mind the Body of Christ as understood in the Christian ritual known as the Eucharist (Communion). In the historical past, great schisms and violence ensued over the understanding of the Eucharist. The main question in the controversy is whether the bread (or wafer) literally becomes the Body of Christ. How can the bread be understood as the real body of Christ? The Catholics believe that after the priest saying the words of consecration, the bread literally becomes the Body of Christ, even though the bread looks, feels and taste physically like bread. Protestants in contrast believe the bread always remain bread and only symbolic of the Body of Christ.

Whether or not a biological girl can become a boy by merely asserting that “she” has become a “he” is a parallel to the debate about whether or not a piece of bread can become the Body of Christ in the Eucharist by a priest merely asserting the words of Christ. In other words, can a body with certain characteristics in the physical world become something different even though the physical body appears unchanged? The position of the LGBTQ2 community on gender and biological sex is a de facto religious position. A person in a girl’s body can be an actual boy. A person with the biological attributes of a woman is in reality a man if she so identifies as a man and choose the pronoun “he”. Some folks like the Green Party candidate Amita Kuttner is gender fluid although they have the body and face that look like a woman’s. Kuttner has chosen “they” for her pronoun.

The clash of social viewpoints between Mrs. Leung and the LGBTQ2 community is at heart a clash of religious viewpoints. As such, all LGBTQ2 folks have the right to believe whatever gender they want to be and express. So too, Mrs. Leung has the right to do the same. Mrs. Leung’s discourse in the two videos go somewhat further regarding human rights. Implicit in her claims is that all parents should to have the right to raise their children according to their religious values as they best see fit. All religious views are tolerated in Canada as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. NDP candidate Svend Robinson does not present Heather Leung as a mother asserting her rights to raise her three children according to her religion, but he instead presents her as a vile and heinous woman filled with hatred. He later boasts to a talk show host: “She was dead meat.”

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