Wednesday, July 02, 2008

On policy, foreign; wars, Iraqi; and marriage, same-sex

Missed this one during my round-up of the orgy of Canada Day polling data but it still bears mentioning, with a number if interesting comparatives to out American cousins.

First, the war on Iraq:

Opposition to the war is huge in Canada, where 82 per cent of respondents said the invasion was the wrong decision. That's a major reversal from five years ago, during the early days of the conflict, when 51 per cent of poll respondents said Canadian troops should jump to the aid of the United States.

It's also a change that is being reflected south of the border where 54 per cent of American respondents to this month's survey said their country never should have become involved militarily in Iraq.

I don’t recall the war polling that high in Canada at the time, unless the sample was confined to newspaper columnists, editorial writers and the Conservative caucus, or Alliance caucus, whatever they were calling themselves back then. Nice to see though that time has reaffirmed the sound decision of Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the Liberal government of the day. And it bears mentioning we’d be in that war now if Stephen Harper had been Prime Minister at the time:

Opposition leader Stephen Harper has told Fox News in the U.S. that most Canadians outside Quebec support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, despite our government's decision not to take part in the war.

In an interview with the American TV network, Harper said he endorsed the war and said he was speaking "for the silent majority" of Canadians. Only in Quebec, with its "pacifist tradition," are most people opposed to the war, Harper said.

OK, I guess they were calling it the Alliance then. Anyway, what I actually found more interesting were the numbers regarding same-sex marriage, which again vindicate another decision taken by the previous Liberal government, and opposed tooth and nail by the Harper Conservatives:

And finally, the poll suggests that Canadian support for same-sex marriage is growing. Two years ago, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they would not want to repeal the law that allows the unions. The more recent survey found that 68 per cent of respondents back gay marriage.

Support in the United States is not as strong; just 44 per cent of people polled in that country said they are in favour.

These numbers aren’t surprising, but they are reassuring. They show Canadians are a reasonable, understanding people. Many weren’t too comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage a few years ago. But now that we’re there, and the sky hasn’t fallen, they see it’s not such a big deal. We’re evolving as a society, and moving forward. Even if some want to take us backward.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Aaron Perry said...

The sky hasn't fallen, but neither is that a necessary and sufficient condition for critiquing legislation. I will always critique a government that believes it has the ability to redefine institutions that it didn't invent.

Johnathon said...

Only in a left wing mentally retarded country like Canada would people think that removing Saddam Hussein would be bad for the Iraqi people.

You leftards are really fucked up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, those comments up lots of things to consider.

I guess we should be pleased the US government didn't defer on the whole slavery institution, seeing as they didn't "invent" it and all.

Braindead, much? Or do you just make up flimsy excuses to support your prejudices all the time?

As for you, Johnathon, when the forces of goodness and light invade your country under false pretenses, leading to tens of thousands of civilian deaths and magnitudes more wounded, homeless and uprooted families, leaving your entire community a nest of thugs and rival gangs, let's hope you're not among the mentally retarded dip shits that get bulldozed over in the aftermath.

Saddam was a tyrant, but that doesn't mean the war was such a bright idea, as all can now see.

And why the hell were your buddies giving him weapons hand over fist in the first place?

Too bad those responsible for these bull shit ideas don't ever get hung out to dry when the shit really hits the fan.

Try growing a fucking brain. Or, better yet, why don't you march off into the desert to save the day. You can trade places with one of my buddies stuck over there.

Mike514 said...

Popular policies = good policies.
Unpopular policies = bad policies.

You obviously don't think that, but it's an observation I get from reading your post.

Many unpopular ideas are good policies. The income trust tax was highly unpopular, but necessary. On the contrary, the GST cut was highly popular, but economists argue it wasn't good policy.

At the end of the day, we hope our leaders lead and not merely be guided by the polls. And that results from standing for something, which we all hope our leaders will do.

If the carbon shift is highly unpopular, should Dion immediately abandon it? What if we rubbed a series of anti-carbon-tax polls in his face? Judging by your post, he should seriously reconsider.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into your post...

Jeff said...

Critique away Aaron. At the time though, many of the critiques were that the sky would fall. Straight marriages would fail. Families would dissolve. It hasn't happened, while some will continue with other, more nuanced critiques, Canadians by and large have moved on. As for who invented the institution, if you're referring to the church they're still allowed to set their own rules. Civil marriage, though, is a separate institution the government is free to redefine.

Mike, I was going for more of a once again the Liberals were right and the Cons were wrong kind of a thing. And actually, at the time the population was split on SSM, so you could argue the Liberals made the tough, not necessarily popular decision, and have been proven correct in the fullness of time. I'd argue that's leadership.

JimBobby said...

At the end of the day, we hope our leaders lead and not merely be guided by the polls.

True. It's a catch-22 situation, though. At the end of election day, we hope real leaders prevail and not mere populist panderers. Unless leaders are elected at the polls, they cannot lead.

Canadians are not so much outraged by the income trust tax, itself, as by the fact that it represents a broken promise. Ditto Liberal daycare and GST failings. Ditto senate appointments from both old-line parties.

Yet, if a candidate or party is principled and refuses to promise the impossible in an election campaign, the me-first public will pass them over in favour of the guy with pie in the sky.


Aaron Perry said...

Hi Joseph,

I didn't say that the Canadian gov't should defer on the issue. I said they shouldn't redefine an institution they didn't invent. I hope you can see the difference. Let's try to keep on topic and not bring up red-herrings.

Hi BCer,

First, thanks for keeping civil, unlike some of your posters--agreers and disagreers. It's hardly fair to argue that some category called the "fullness of time" has passed since that legislation passed, though. Let historians and (future) statisticians do their work without conflating pollsters with ethicists.

Finally, it's incorrect to imply that marriage and "civil marriage" should be considered a separate institution. The discussion itself was over the use of the word because marriage is the institution. Because same-sex partners did not simply want "unions," which I have supported, there was a struggle over "marriage" itself.

Mike514 said...


I was expecting someone to say that :) Part of the frustration is from politicians reneging on their promises, as with the in6come trust tax. I'm willing to accept a reneging politician as long as 1) he (or she) admits and apologizes for going back on his word, and 2) he is doing it because it's good policy (and not merely pandering for a few votes).

What I wasn't expecting was that you, Jimbobby, could write an entire post without saying whooee or any such expressions.

Mike514 said...


Thanks for the feedback. Always appreciated.

When you say that the Liberals were right, it makes me question: What's right? If a majority are for XYZ, does that make XYZ right?

In other words, is the popular decision the right decision? And furthermore, how would you define "right" or "wrong" decisions?

In terms of income trust taxes, we would defer to economics to judge what's best (or right). However, when dealing with social topics as abortion or marriage, we have to introduce morals into the equation. That makes it a little trickier to define "right" and "wrong."

I don't mean to start an existential debate on what's "right" and "wrong," but it certainly came to mind.

Jeff said...

Aaron in marriage vs. civil unions, for me I see that as a case of separate but equal, which isn't really all that equal. For both sides, I suppose, it's the symbolism. I think though that in this day and age no one can really claim ownership of the institution or definition of marriage, it spans cultures and religions. So if a government wants to define it a certain way for civil purposes and call it marriage, as long as churches can still set their own rules for marriages they sanctify I'm fine with that, and I don't really see it as that big an issue. What do you care what two other people call their relationship? That's where the other side loses me on that one.

Mike, I see what you're getting at. And it's tough to say, I think it will vary from case to case. In this case, I think it was a leap of faith when the decision to legalize was made, but given that, since the decision was made and time has gone by, the fact public support has steadily increased would argue for it being the right decision.

Popular opinion, though, indeed can't be the only determining factor. Particularly in a case of minority rights, the rights of the minority can't be dependent on the whim of the majority. That's why we have a charter.

Perhaps it would be better to say this polling data is FURTHER evidence the Liberals were right all along. It's not the only evidence. There's also the fact we're so smart. Why, we can even steal people's personalities.

Aaron Perry said...

Hi BCer,

My issue is not with whether or not believe they are married. If someone believes that in their home their relationship is a marriage, then I don't really care politically. (I care in other ways, but that's irrelevant for now.) My problem, as with the original comment, was with governments redefining the institution. That I care about and deeply, because that means a select group of people feels comfortable changing the meaning of words for a large group of people, which is beyond arrogant.

If no one owns it, then no one can redefine it.