Endorsements by a pair of anti-SOGI advocacy groups are not a reflection of his personal values, says incumbent Township mayoral candidate Jack Froese.
The comments came in response to lists issued by two conservative groups, supporting specific candidates across the Lower Mainland ahead of the Oct. 20 municipal election, including Froese.
Culture Guard and the Let’s Vote Association openly oppose components of B.C.’s controversial sexual orientation and identity school district resource called SOGI 123.
Froese’s name is on both Culture Guard’s and the Let’s Vote Association’s lists, while Langley City mayoral candidate Peter Fassbender is among those named by Let’s Vote.
Froese said he has no idea why Culture Guard has endorsed his candidacy.
“I have no idea what their criteria is for their list. I compare it to the firefighters — I’m on their list and I’m not a firefighter.
“As far as SOGI goes, I’ve always taken the position that that’s the school district and the Ministry of Education’s program and I have no stance on it one way or the other.”
Froese said he is neutral on the SOGI debate because it’s not something he’s looked into deeply, since it’s “not a municipal issue, it’s a ministry program.”
“I’m always for anti-bullying programs, but apparently it’s pretty controversial and I haven’t dug into it.”
“I believe we should see everyone fairly. When it comes to the workplace, school, anything, they should feel comfortable and accepted. I’m not anti-SOGI, I’m not pro-SOGI. I’m certainly pro-inclusion and respect.”
The Let’s Vote Association, which has endorsed Fassbender, a former Minister of Education, indicates on its website that the purpose of the group is “to help Canadian citizens and permanent residents, (especially) new immigrants, to participate in political parties and help to shape the parties with conservative values.”
Fassbender said issues like SOGI are the concern of the province, local school boards and individual teachers.
“I’m running for the mayor’s job. I’m not running on a SOGI platform or anything else. You can’t prevent anybody from either endorsing you or not endorsing you. I appreciate anyone who feels I can fulfill the job of mayor. Some of the issues these groups represent are not civic government issues, especially SOGI.”
Fassbender added that he supports the foundation of SOGI as an anti-bullying initiative, but does have concerns.
“I have stood up clearly and said the basis of anti-bullying initiatives I absolutely support.
“I think bullying of any type against anyone is wrong, but individual programs like SOGI 123, there are elements in it I do not support. I think there is some issues that get into the gender or lack of gender identification and so on in the resource that SOGI is.”
Both Froese and Fassbender said they were unsure of who compiled the lists or suggested them as candidates to endorse.