TORONTO – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he will stand with Conservative candidates who have made controversial comments in the past, so long as they have apologized and taken responsibility for their comments.

“As long as someone takes responsibility for what they’ve said and addresses the fact that in 2019 some things that may have been said in the past are inappropriate today, and if anything they’ve ever said in the past caused any type of hurt or disrespect to one community or another and apologized for that, I accept that,” Scheer told reporters during an overnight flight from Ottawa to Vancouver.

“I accept the fact that people can make mistakes in the past and can own up to that and accept that.”

Scheer and the Conservatives have come under fire over past comments made by some of their federal candidates, including those of Ghada Melek, their candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville.

A 2016 vetting report sent to Ontario PC party leadership obtained by CTV News found that Melek had been deemed "extremely controversial and problematic" as a candidate over past social media posts.

Melek had shared offensive or controversial articles on topics ranging from gender-neutral washrooms and the Ontario sex-education curriculum to depopulation, family values and evolution.

She ended up withdrawing from the provincial nomination vote for her riding for the 2018 provincial election.

The revelation has brought the Conservatives’ vetting process under scrutiny, with Scheer saying on Friday that he wasn’t sure that it was the case that the Ontario PCs had recommended she not be nominated.

On Saturday, his tune had changed – not saying that the Conservatives had or had not been aware of the vetting report, but saying that it was not something that worried him.

“We went through our vetting process with Ghada, and when these things came to light, she did the right thing,” Scheer said. “She took responsibility for it and she’s reaffirmed her support for people of all faiths and all backgrounds.”

“I think most Canadians recognize that people can say things in the past when they’re younger, at a different time in their life, they would not say today.”

The problem seems to be a common one, with the Green Party and the NDP both also having to deal with the fallout of candidates’ past comment in recent days.

Dock Currie, the former NDP candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, stepped down Wednesday over “problematic” comments he made to pro-pipeline activists on social media, while former Simcoe North Green candidate Erik Schomann resigned after an Islamaphobic Facebook post was brought to light.