Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Same sex marriage still not safe

Just when you think it's over. While you may have thought last month's failed sham vote in Parliament to revisit same sex marriage put an end to the issue, its clear Steve Harper's socially conservative allies aren't willing to let this issue die just yet.

According to the Vancouver Sun an informal coalition of socially-conservative groups with very strong ties to Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada are preparing to press the government to reopen the issue, and will be calling on the Harper government to create a Royal Commission on marriage and families to "make recommendations on a variety of matters, from family tax policy to child care" and, of course, revisit SSM.


The groups behind the push include Focus on the Family Canada, the Institute for Canadian Values and the Canada Family Action Coalition. All should be familiar to followers of Conservative politics.


Focus on the Family's former president Darrel Reid, for example, was the CPC candidate in Richmond in the last election, losing to Liberal Raymond Chan. He was muzzled by the party office, perhaps for making comments like this:


"Canada could become like Nazi Germany, with Christians facing jail if they speak out against homosexuality."


Or maybe it was comments like this:


"It's about high time that Muslims showed the world that theirs is a religion of peace, rather than a religion based on threat, intimidation and terrorism."


That of course didn't stop him from becoming Chief of Staff to the soon to be shuffled Rona Ambrose (the same position he once held with Preston Manning) and a fine job he's been doing there too.


The same group's current Ottawa spokesperson, David Quist, was the CPC candidate in Nanaimo-Cowichan in 2004, losing to the NDP's Jean Crowder. Quist had spent six years as executive assistant to former CPC MP Reed Elly and also worked in Harper's OLO.


Anyway, Joseph Ben-Ami of the Institute for Canadian Values makes it clear what this Royal Commission, which would cost a healthy chunk of taxpayer dollars (any estimates, few million maybe?), would be all about, and why Harper had better come through for his benefactors:


"I think the prime minister and I think the Conservative party have to spend some time looking at the relationship it has with social conservatives, and I think there's some damage that has to be repaired, some fences that have to be mended," Ben-Ami said.


"I'm a small-c conservative, don't expect me to go out and vote Liberal. But I do have an alternative and that's staying home."


He said so-cons are "infuriated" Harper has refused to strongly defend traditional (whatever that is) marriage in Parliament (defend from what I've never understood). On the plus side though, Ben-Ami said they're pleased as punch about the cuts to the Status of Women and the killing of the Court Challenges Program. Still, he said baby-steps aren't enough, he and his so-con friends will be looking for real action from Harper. Starting, I guess, with a multi-million dollar Royal Commission to reopen an issue most people consider closed.


It will be an interesting question to follow. In his majority quest Harper is trying desperately to moderate his image, but will he go so moderate that his so-con base leaves him? Will any gains he can make on the left offset support lost on the right? Will he toss them a few bones to try to keep them onside, besides a few judicial appointments?


Stay tuned.

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11 comments:

Zac said...

It will be interesting to see if Harper will create the commission under the mask of helping "working families" get by, or whatever line he wants to toss out there.

Frankly, I think Harper is trying to distance himself from these folks but Ben-Ami did raise an interesting point about "sitting at home" as opposed to helping out the CPC. This is a fairly common attitude amongst some of the harder so-cons. Many haven't been CPC members in the past but came over because they thought that Harper could deliver. He'll have to find a balance between pleasing this group and trying to remain moderate, a very difficult task.

s.b. said...

Let them. It will just put another nail in the coffin of their re-election.

Anonymous said...

Boooo!!! The Conservatives are SCARY!!! Don't vote for them, because they are RIGHT-WING, NEOCON extremists!!! Ooooh!!!!

p.s., please don't look at the man behind the curtain. For some reason, Mr. Chretien has grown attention-shy lately.

Anonymous said...

"Canada could become like Nazi Germany, with Christians facing jail if they speak out against homosexuality."

Or maybe it was comments like this:

"It's about high time that Muslims showed the world that theirs is a religion of peace, rather than a religion based on threat, intimidation and terrorism."


There is absolutely nothing shocking about those statements. I agree with both, though I wouldn't invoke godwin's law.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:55 you better pay attention - the neo-con movement in the U.S. is collapsing "FAST". The writing is on the wall.

If there is a God he won't put us through any more of this so-called family values garbage. Why on earth to they feel that values only come in package marked family?

Simon said...

Excellent post Jeff...although you forgot to mention how the fertility and stem cell research panel has been stacked with theocrats. With all the bones Harper has thrown them I really can't understand why anyone would think Harper is trying to distance himself from these wingnuts. He must obviously needs them.... badly. Obviously he wants to have his cake and eat it, so he never deals with these religious extremists. Jason Kenney does. That's why they call him The Ambassador.... I also can't understand where this idea that Harper is an evangelical moderate comes from. He isn't. People should read Marci MacDonald's story in Walrus magazine "Harper and the Theocrats" or attend a service at Harper's little church in Ottawa. You know the one with the faith healings, the warnings the end of the world is imminent, and of course all that horseshit about homosexuals. Or for that matter ask Great Leader himself whether he still thinks homosexuality is a choice rather than an orientation. Don't worry about the gay marriage issue...me and my brothers and sisters can take care of these homophobes. Worry instead that this is a theocratic assault on ALL our Canadian values...most Canadians can't seem to see the forest for the trees...and imagine what would happen if Harper and his gang ever get a majority...

wilson61 said...

Didn't we hear all of this during the last election, and wasn't PMSH still elected, even tho he promised to have a scary free vote on day 1 of the campaign? The Liberal boogeyman didn't scare off voters then, why should it now?

"I don't see reopening this question in the future," he (PMSH)told reporters who asked whether same-sex marriage would return to the table if the Conservatives won a majority government.

Nor does he intend to introduce a "defence of religions" act to allow public officials, such as justices of the peace, to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.''

Simon
''fertility and stem cell research panel has been stacked with theocrats''
3 out of 13 (plus every province gets a seat at the bi-annual meetings) is a 'stack' ?.
Before you go into the 'not one fertility specialist was on the board', read section 28 of the Conflicts of Interest Act.

What is really really scary, is how out of real ideas you Libs are, and you guys had been in power for 13 years.!!
Now that you can't steal NDP or Cons ideas to hang on to power, you are an empty vessel, floating around aimlessly.
pity.

burlivespipe said...

Wilson666 sed:
'"I don't see reopening this question in the future," he (PMSH)told reporters who asked whether same-sex marriage would return to the table if the Conservatives won a majority government.'
-All those who bulked up their income trusts since the last election know exactly how far to carry Harpor's promises.
Certainly he's proven to be astute in the world of politicks and knows that a majority changes everything.

burlivespipe said...

Wilson666 sed:
'"I don't see reopening this question in the future," he (PMSH)told reporters who asked whether same-sex marriage would return to the table if the Conservatives won a majority government.'
-All those who bulked up their income trusts since the last election know exactly how far to carry Harpor's promises.
Certainly he's proven to be astute in the world of politicks and knows that a majority changes everything.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Perhaps my Conservative friends might kindly point the fear mongering out to me. These groups want a Royal Commission, and to kill SSM. That's a fact. The groups have close ties to Harper and the CPC, as I outlined, again facts.

If pointing out the facts is fear mongering then ok, but I wouldn't say it's my fault. I'd say it's your fault because your facts are so scary. Try working on that a bit.

Frankly, though, for me the more interesting question is the strategic one that Zac and I both touched on. Harper is clearly trying to distance themselves from these so-con guys. But at what point does he risk them, their organizational muscle, and their votes, sitting out the next election and hurting him at the polls? It will be an interesting balancing act to watch.

Niles said...

The American SoCons aren't failing in the US. They've just not succeeded in delivering Christian militant utopia *yet*. And it's all the fault of those pesky Others in their midst.

Harper has given me no sign he's not drawing from the same well of dogma, with the same disdain for 'the chattering classes', even as he tries to pass himself off as a 'common' man.

It's all to easy to see an effort rise where yes, equal marriage is legal, just like contraception/abortion is legal, but roadblocks to access, like oh...commissioners refusing to do the legal paperwork on same gender couples, or pharmacists refusing to give out emergency birth control...pop up.

Such tactics worked well for kiboshing the vote for coloured people in the US for decades. Sure voting was legal...if you got past all the bear traps set up at state and even municipal levels. Bear traps that will be harder to fight in Canada without the Courts Challenge program.

That sort of balking is the all too possible future if people interested in true human rights give one step back.

The 'Others' are what underpin the fear rooted in religious militantism, and we are all Others, even the militants themselves if they split from the main hive in the least differential.

Sadly, the 'martyrs' dreading a fascist intolerance against them can't see the irony in shutting others down who disagree with *their* views.

Oh, duh me. It's different for them. They're right. We're just Satanspawn they've vowed to never stop fighting until they get their way imposed on everyone. For our own good.