Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre says schools should stick to teaching the basics and leave conversations about LGBTQ issues to parents.
Poilievre's comments could factor into the debate at next month's party policy convention in Quebec City, where Conservative Party members are expected to wade into the debate on gender identity.
When it comes to how conversations on gender identity are handled in schools, Poilievre generally has deferred to the provinces, which are in charge of education.
While visiting Moncton, N.B. in late June, Poilievre accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of "butt[ing] into" decisions that "should rest with provinces and parents." New Brunswick has been embroiled in a months-long debate about a controversial new policy on gender identity in schools.
But Poilievre offered a more pointed comment while speaking at a Pakistan Independence Day celebration in Toronto earlier this month. In a speech posted online by Awaz Entertainment, an Urdu-Hindi TV channel, Poilievre spoke about protecting freedom of religion.
"It is not the Canadian way for the prime minister to tell a Muslim man that his values are American because he wants to pass on his traditional teachings to his children," said Poilievre.
Poilievre was referring to a recent video of Trudeau answering questions in a Calgary mosque about LGBTQ issues and schools. In the video, Trudeau says misinformation about sexual education is "being fuelled by the American right." The prime minister said schools do not engage in "aggressive teaching or conversion of kids to being LBGT."
Trudeau's remarks were covered by multiple media outlets, including Fox News, The Daily Mail and The New York Post.
Poilievre said the parent speaking with Trudeau in the video is asking "that schools stick to teaching math, reading and writing. The basics. Isn't that what schools are supposed to be teaching anyway?"
"We want every parent to have the freedom to raise their kids with their own values," the Conservative leader added.
He made those remarks roughly at the 12-minute mark of the video, which was posted on Aug. 20.
Conservatives to debate gender-transitioning
A proposal from the Conservative grassroots for next week's policy convention in Quebec City will see party members vote on banning anyone under age 18 from receiving "life altering medicinal or surgical interventions" to change their gender.
Poilievre was asked about that proposal last week but said he hadn't yet studied all the ideas up for debate.
New Brunswick's Policy 713 requires that parents give their consent if a student under the age of 16 decides to use a different name or pronouns.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has said the policy is about allowing parents to play a role in their child's education without having important information hidden from them. Trudeau said in June that "trans kids in New Brunswick are being told they don't have the right to be their true selves, that they need to ask permission."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that misinformation about LGBTQ issues in schools is being driven by the American right wing. (Marissa Tiel/The Canadian Press)
The province's child and youth advocate recently concluded the policy violates the Human Rights Act, the provincial Education Act and children's charter rights.
Saskatchewan announced last week it would also require parental consent for preferred name or pronoun changes for any student under 16.
The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives say that if they are re-elected this fall, they will expand parents' rights over what their children learn in school, which could include a new policy on pronouns.
A poll released Monday by the Angus Reid Institute says 43 per cent of those polled believe parents should be informed and must give consent if a child wants to change how they identify. Thirty-five per cent said that parents should be made aware but consent is not required, while 14 per cent said parents should have no role in the decision.
The online survey of more than 3,000 Canadians was conducted between July 26 and 31. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.