Liberal candidate Noel Semple wrote several articles during his time as a student at the University of Toronto critical of the school's efforts to make women feel more comfortable in gyms, questioning whether women and LGBT people face discrimination, and more, QP Briefing has learned.
In a February 2004 piece titled "Women only hours: Shut out at the AC," Semple took exception to the U of T gym and pool having time set aside for women only.
"I don't believe that female students paid any more. For some reason, the university has nonetheless chosen to give me and other male students less access to this facility," he wrote.
"Let's hire someone to police perspiration and grunting levels or indecent muscle shirts if that's what it takes," to make women more comfortable, he wrote.
"Refusing to tolerate the very presence of men, regardless of their behaviour, goes beyond sensitivity into the realm of bigotry."
He also questioned the university using religion to justify the policy.
"The (Athletic Centre) also cites 'religious reasons' for the policy, presumably meaning that certain students' religious beliefs forbid them to use this facility if men are present," he wrote.
“I have to wonder — can this diversity survive if beliefs unique to certain religions are to be incorporated into the operation of the university’s programs and facilities?" he wrote. "Must we open a creationism program in a wing of the zoology building, to accommodate those espousing a biblical view of the origins of humankind?”
In a December 2021 tweet, Semple took exception to Green Shield Canada providing a free hour of counselling to women.
I'm a premium-paying @GSC_1957 member and this makes me sick. Why not make your services available to all members regardless of our gender identity? Too many already think real men don't have mental health problems, don't need help, and should just man up.
— Noel Semple (@NoelSemple) December 21, 2021
In a November 2004 article in Ultra Vires, the paper for U of T's law faculty, he wrote there should be a "Charter of Duties and Obligations" to go along with Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"Deadbeat parents in Ontario alone currently owe $1.35 billion in unpaid child support ... There should be a constitutional duty to support one's children and to avoid having children whom one cannot support," he wrote.
"Other people of sound mind and body choose to receive welfare payments rather than working and contributing taxes. A Charter of Duties and Obligations could require everyone to make reasonable efforts to contribute to Canada's economy."
One of Semple’s other past writings was first reported last week by the Toronto Star. In 2004, he wrote a piece for The Varsity opposing a student levy intended to raise $25,000 for a group called LGBTOUT. The money would be better spent fighting poverty, he argued.
“LGBTQ people, by contrast, are not a needy or victimized subset of society,” he wrote in the March 15, 2004 edition of The Varsity.
“You’re here, you’re queer; we got used to it a long time ago. Go find your $25,000 elsewhere.”
Semple apologized and called the words "hurtful" and "offensive." Liberal Leader Steven Dul Duca stuck by Semple at the time.
"Enough is enough. Eighteen years ago, Noel Semple wrote an article in a student paper opposing a new student levy,” Del Duca said in a statement. "In the same article he denounced homophobes as scumbags. He is not and was not a homophobe."
Del Duca, who turfed three candidates last week (including two for remarks on homosexuality), said Semple would be the subject of a review.
When asked on Tuesday whether the review had dug up any other questionable past writings or tweets, Del Duca was unable to answer.
"Mr. Semple is someone who has signed on to the Ontario Liberal team understanding fully what's in our plan. He's an individual who supports the elements that you see in our plan," Del Duca said.
Semple is running in Etobicoke Centre against Kinga Surma, who served as infrastructure minister. It's listed as a "narrow PCP hold" on the iPolitics/Mainstreet Research polling dashboard. Before Surma turned it blue in 2018, the Liberals held it for 15 years. It's repped by Liberal MP Yvan Baker at the federal level, who lost to Surma in 2018.