CTV News | Federal Election 2019
Tory candidate Scheer defended deemed 'extremely controversial and problematic' in 2016 vetting report
Published Saturday, September 14, 2019 7:30PM EDT Last Updated Saturday, September 14, 2019 10:04PM EDT
OTTAWA - A candidate running for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives was deemed by the party's provincial counterpart to be "extremely controversial and problematic" and accused of promoting online conspiracy theories, according to a past vetting report obtained by CTV News.
Ghada Melek, the federal candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville -- who Scheer has attended events with and spent part his first week of the election campaign defending -- was given a "strict red light" recommendation in 2016 when she was looking to run for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
"This recommendation is a strict red light. There are many anti-gay/LGBT and even sterilization posts that make this candidate extremely controversial and problematic,” said an email attached to the 2016 vetting report and sent to the Ontario PC party leadership.
“I don't think I can stress enough that this candidate should not be approved," the email concluded.
The pages of the report, obtained by CTV News, highlight multiple posts that appear to be from Melek’s social media accounts, sharing offensive or controversial articles on a range of topics, from gender-neutral washrooms and the Ontario sex-education curriculum, to depopulation, family values, and evolution.
“Melek has a habit of sharing conspiracy theories online that have no basis in fact, and cover a wide range of topics,” the report said.
The report’s researchers found she posted a video by a Romanian conspiracy theorist who believes international organizations, with the consent of the Catholic church, are covertly trying to depopulate the world using “chemical and biological methods.”
Melek commented that it is “a must watch video no matter what country you live in.”
Many of the social media messages cited in the report are reposts by Melek of other people’s posts.
“She shared a picture of an American soldier standing with an upside down American flag with the words, ‘There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people’ written on it,” the report found.
At the time, Melek was in the running for the party's nomination in the Ontario riding of Mississauga-Streetsville, to become the candidate for the 2018 provincial race.
The Ontario PCs were then led by Patrick Brown, who held more liberal views on sex education and other social issues than his successor, Doug Ford, now Ontario’s premier.
“Melek’s position on the sex-education curriculum is in stark contrast to the Leader’s,” the report reads.
The report's recommendation was to not approve her then-nomination to run provincially, because she was found to have "strong social conservative views on LGBT issues, abortion, sex-education, and family values.”
Melek ended up withdrawing from the race before that riding's nomination vote. She was confirmed as the federal party candidate in December of 2018.
On her candidate biography on the Conservative Party of Canada website, Melek is described as a business consultant and married mother of two, who moved to Canada with her parents from Egypt 28 years ago.
Last month, the National Council of Canadian Muslims called for her to be dropped as a federal candidate over other past posts they deemed anti-Islam, and anti-LGBTQ.
Melek, a Coptic-Christian, apologized and said in a statement at the time that she regretted sharing the posts, and that she would represent all constituents.
In a statement forwarded to CTV News from the Conservative Party on Friday, Melek wrote, “While these are almost entirely shared articles from more than half a decade ago, I do understand how some of them may be offensive, and I do regret that as well as sharing them.”
Melek said, “I’m proud to be part of the Conservative Party of Canada, a party that supports the LGBTQ community. As an MP, I will represent all of my constituents, including the LGBTQ community.”
Asked Friday whether he was aware that the Ontario PCs had recommended she not be green-lit, Scheer said that he wasn't sure that was the case.
"All I can tell you is that Ghada Malek has acknowledged that some of the comments that she had re-tweeted were insensitive and that she has taken responsibility for that, and I'm glad that she has," Scheer said.
Scheer then pivoted to attack the Liberal incumbent who Melek is facing off against.
"If we want to talk about local candidates here Mississauga-Streetsville, we can talk about the fact that the Liberal ... was making fun of middle-class Canadians ... I'm happy to stack up the record of our candidates across the country with those of the Liberal Party," Scheer said.
The Liberal candidate for the riding is Gagan Sikand. He drew considerable social media scorn for a tweet using the hashtag #ScheerWasSoPoor, which circulated in partisan circles on Twitter just days before the federal election campaign touched off.