UPDATE DEC. 9, 2016: According to her Twitter feed, Ms. Heer is now running to be a provincial Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of Mississauga Centre. There are rumours the riding association did not want her, but an attempted veto of her candidacy has been overridden by leader Patrick Brown, but nothing has been substantiated. iPolitics has more.
MAY 30, 2016 — This weekend’s Conservative Party convention in Vancouver had the vibe of a Maoist “struggle session” about it — or at least that’s how the press is choosing to portray it. The party is grappling with its future and reflecting on its past, with heavy, heavy pressure being exerted to admit the past in question was just one long, dark slog of homophobia, racism, climate-change denial, and Muslim-bashing.
Two incidents gave reason to suspect the Conservatives are interested in playing along. The first was the party’s much-covered decision to scrap its formal commitment to defend the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage (a voluntary gesture of zero practical consequence but considerable symbolic significance which I’ll write more about another day); the other, the party’s public dressing-down at the hands of a Muslim woman named Urz Heer who gave a vigorous scolding on the convention floor.
Urz Heer, a turquoise scarf covering her hair, chastised her fellow Conservatives and party leadership, saying the campaign unfairly targeted her community.
“This party worked actively and aggressively against my people,” she said, to cries of “not so” from the crowd.
“It did, it did,” she said. “It didn’t differentiate who Muslims were versus the enemy.”
The election drove many Muslims who had never cast a ballot before to aggressively vote against the Tories, said Heer, who is from the Toronto-area riding of Brampton South.
“For the first time I felt like I didn’t belong here and this was my country,” she said, her voice breaking.
Her passionate statement was greeted with applause and she received hugs from some in the crowd but it left party executive director Dustin Van Vugt stumbling for words.
Ms. Heer became the celebrity of the convention and was shortly thereafter interviewed by the CBC. During the chat, she complained further about the Tories, stating that when they spoke about terrorists the Conservative government should have made it clear “that Muslims are not included in that bucket.” She also claimed that her floor speech provoked widespread apologies from other personalities at the convention, including one from Dr. Leitch, who is of course presently running for party leader.
But who is Ms. Heer, really? On the CBC, she was described as a “member of the party’s Brampton-South riding” and a Tory “delegate” to the convention. American Blogger Sierra Rayne at the American Thinker appears to have been the first journalist to actually look into Ms. Heer’ background, and found a lot of troubling stuff. As a Canadian, I can put an even finer point on it.
Urz Heer is a cable access journalist and activist with a long record of dabbling in and out of various causes, many of which involve immigrant outreach. Her politics are vague and unclear, and seem to reflect a desire to simply be on good terms with whoever has the rising stock of the moment. If she is currently self-identifying as a Conservative it is a hollow and unconvincing claim.
According to Heer’s LinkedIn profile (and a 2009 tweet), from 2009 to 2011 Heer was a director for the Liberal Party riding association of Brampton West (she appears in an outdated version of the riding association’s webpage, here). She was evidentially a good Liberal — this weekend wasn’t the first time she attended a party convention in Vancouver.
Brampton West was represented by Liberal MP Andrew Kania in those days. Heer apparently stepped down just before the 2011 election, which Kania lost to a guy named Kyle Seeback. The new Conservative MP then hired her as an “outreach co-ordinator” of some sort, but that relationship did not last.
Heer appears to have been a member of the Ontario Liberals circa 2013, and was a backer of Kathleen Wynne’s campaign to succeed Dalton McGuinty as premier. When Wynne was installed she posted a selfie from the Liberal Party convention floor “celebrating” the victory. In 2014 Heer met Wynne several times and posted multiple fawning photos of the two together, calling her “an amazing premier,” “amazing” and “my favorite premier.”
From December 2014 to October 2015 Heer claims to have worked as a “campaign manager” for a “Federal Nomination Candidate” though the riding and party are not specified on LinkedIn. Judging from photos on Facebook and Twitter it seems she backed a guy named Kuldip Gollee to get the 2015 Conservative nomination in Brampton West after MP Seeback decided to run in the new riding of Brampton South. When that fell through, a few months later she posted a Facebook photo of herself attending a “volunteer event” for the Liberal candidate Robert Oliphant in the riding of Don Valley West. She tweeted at him “hope u become the next Multiculturalism Minister!” When Prime Minister Trudeau was sworn in, Heer cheered him on to “Bring back the better, peace loving, more inclusive #Canada for everyone.” She would later tweet praise at him for “saving” Canada.
Ms. Heer seems to be a particularly vain and self-aggrandizing woman, eager to inform the world of her perceived importance and supposed closeness with politicians. Her social media accounts are all public, and brimming with opinions and endorsements. It did not take me much effort to investigate her background, and conclude that she is not a serious Conservative or a even a person with particularly serious political opinions. It would be nice if the media — and for that matter the Conservative Party itself — could be bothered to do even the slightest bit of research before crowning a mysterious stranger their new high priestess of things they wish to be true.
A person who worked with Ms. Heer during her stint at the office of the Tory MP Kyle Seeback contacted me with more information.
“Among us staff in Seeback’s office, she was known to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the person told me.
“She pretended to be conservative for the job” the person continued, adding it was known that Heer was simultaneously attending “other party conventions and events.”