June 30, 2006

Bye Bye Majority, Harper’s Flip Flop on Quebec Nation will Cost Him Dearly

Six months almost to the day after the Tories won Quebec support with Harper’s (in?)famous speech in Quebec City, Harper and his new Cabinet were back in Quebec holed up in a British Fortress handing it right back.

Sitting at Quebec HQ during the last election, we could feel it slipping away in Quebec, and we knew we were gonna get pummelled in Eastern Quebec. However, we did not foresee the 10 seats Harper won. The turning point came December 19th, when Harper went to Quebec City and, as if reading out of a “How-to-Win Quebec” manual, promised Quebeckers everything the Liberals have been denying them for the past 13 years.

Harper let Lawrence Cannon say Quebec was a nation on TV interviews. Harper promised to fix the fiscal imbalance, without saying how he would do it. (it was better than the Liberal position of denying it existed) Harper promised to give Quebec representation at UNESCO (he delivered there, but as we Liberals predicted, it would hardly change a thing). It was a renewed sense of federalism in Quebec. Harper and Charest had play-dates and photo-ops and all was going well. Charest’s numbers were going back up. Then came last week…

Harper was asked if Quebec formed a nation, in the socio-cultural sense of the term, as recognized by Jean Charest and about 95% of Quebeckers, myself included. Hell, even Stephane Dion, great defender of the status quo and denier-in-chief for 6 years, has finally come around and is openly saying Quebec is a nation. (What do you have to say about that Cherniak?).

Harper dodged the question, saying he didn’t wanna debate semantics. Hello, Stephen, didn’t it say in that book that the majority of the debate in Quebec is about semantics? Duceppe and Boisclair jumped on Harper so fast, I was left shaking my head. Another disappointment for Quebeckers. However, this bumbling may have given us Liberals the opportunity we need to bounce back.

The sovereigntists are armed and ready. Jean Doiron, president of the SSJB, the people who throw the big Jean Baptiste party in Montreal, dragged Harper over the coals and drummed up the sovereigntist fever over this latest federalist disappointment. I was there. I spoke with Doiron afterwards. He was surprised to see a federalist at the event. Apparently, as an anglo-federalist, I am brave to come to Parc Maisonneuve on Saint-Jean Baptiste.

The Liberals are in no position to capitalize right now as we are in the throes of a leadership race. However, our choice of leader might be able to turn the tables on Harper. Quebeckers have shown themselves open to Canada by moving away from the Bloc. We must choose a leader who understands Quebec and is able to rekindle the federalist spirit that Harper abruptly disrupted in that British Fortress.

Our leader must recognize Quebec as a nation. This planet has many nations co-existing within the borders of a single state. Canada is a shining example that two different peoples can work together for the betterment of each other. This social experiment will not fail. However, we have to stop denying Quebeckers the obvious truth.

Our leader must recognize the fiscal imbalance and work out a way to resolve it before promising it in a general election. Harper’s glaring mistake is being shown through Jim Flaherty this week. He told provinces to raise taxes. That is the old Liberal line, the Jean Chretien-Stephane Dion line. If Harper had said that in Quebec on December 19th, he would not have those seats in Quebec City. Our leader must find a way to restore provincial transfers (not by tax points) to pre-1995 levels. We must then work out a percentage of spending that the federal government will commit to. No more downloading on provinces. These intergovernmental wars of words must end. (I am officially closing the Benoit Pelletier is a Separatist Club.)

There are 3 main contenders in this race and only two have the credibility necessary to lead the party down this path.

One is a former provincial premier. He knows how federal-provincial relations are managed, and he witnessed first hand how much trouble a province can get into if the federal government suddenly pulls the plug to save its own ass. As if the NDP wasn’t bad enough already they bore the full front of Martin’s fiscal axe in 1995. Bob Rae recognizes Quebec’s status as a nation. He is fluently bilingual.

Another is a journalist and former war correspondent who has seen ethnic nationalism destroy states and their people. He wrote the book on ethnic nationalism and knows full well the dangers of letting sovereigntists monopolize our culture, language, and symbols. He was not in the Liberal denial bubble of the 1990s, which held such a hard-line towards the PQ that we ended up insulting Quebeckers’ intelligence and further polarizing the population. Let’s not forget how close the 1995 referendum was. Michael Ignatieff also recognizes Quebec as a nation. He believes the fiscal imbalance is there. He does not want to pit Quebec City against Ottawa the way Jean Chretien did for so long.

Stephane Dion faces a daunting task regaining the trust of Quebeckers. He was Jean Chretien’s political point man against the PQ throughout these years. The father of the Clarity Act (which for the record, was good) has been the denier-in-chief of many of Quebec aspirations, arrogantly brushing them off in a way that only angered Quebeckers. He sat in Cabinet while the federal government invaded provincial jurisdiction on a regular basis. Now he wants to convince Quebeckers he is a changed man and this is all in the past? We saw this with another Quebec politician. I have much more respect for Stephane Dion than I have for Jean Lapierre but I have a sinking feeling that just as many people will believe Stephane Dion’s new and improved approach on Quebec nationalism as they had for Lapierre’ new and improved views on the Canadian federation.

For us to win, we have two alternatives. They are starkly different from one another. Both can take down Stephen Harper. I have chosen one. Quebeckers will choose theirs as well.

June 20, 2006

Mr. Prime Minister, can YOU fix my broken family?

As the child of divorced (gasp!) parents, I’ve never been a big fan of the term “broken family.” I’m even less a fan when used in the sentence, “but we also recognize that most crime originates in neighbourhoods blighted by joblessness, poverty and broken families,” as Mr. Harper commented at yesterday’s World Urban Forum in a speech that was so inappropriate for the venue and audience it made me laugh out loud as he stumped himself to embarrassment in front of a brilliant, global audience that indeed didn’t come into town to hear him talk about his plans for broken families or the mining industry in Canada.

But back to the point, crime originates in joblessness and poverty. Fact. If there is a link between crime and SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES, it is solely because of an increased incidence of poverty. As someone who felt confident enough to increase the size of the poorest income bracket, eradicate the national childcare plan, and scrap the Kelowna Accord, I’m a little surprised Mr. Harper doesn’t know this.

I don’t have a lot of time to post an extended rant citing all the evidence that proves Mr. Harper’s “broken family” theory on crime in neo-con rhetoric (I’ve got to go to work for Mr. Dion, a man who has admitted ending child poverty should come before GST cuts); however, I leave you with below. It’s a letter I wrote to the Globe and Mail in response to this article. Oddly one of the few letters of mine the Globe has never published. If you don't have a subscription, I've added the text of the story below my comments to make this one of those terribly annoying/lengthy posts.

"Dear Globe and Mail, Although I support a more nuanced analysis of the problem of gun violence in Canada, I was hugely offended by Glendene Lemard's link between so-called "broken families" and gangs.

"Firstly, I would expect a little more social awareness form Ms. Lemard and the Globe and Mail's editorial staff. 'Broken families' is normative term that is only surpassed in it outdated-ness by its political incorrectness. Families where parents are no longer living together are called families. Families with one parent raising children are called families. If you insist on labeling for the sake of statistical analysis, they are called 'single-parent families,' not broken families

"But Ms. Lemard made a spurious correlation claiming that 'gangs are a substitute for broken families' without any legitimate research backing her claim. She wrote about a study linking gang participation to immigration with no mention of any link between emigrating families and single-parent families. She then wrote about a former gang member who joined a gang because he could not find a job, with no mention of a legitimate link between unemployment opportunities and single-parent families.

"Ms. Lemard does manage to segue into a judgment-ridden diatribe about the lack of family values and positive socialization, and only in brackets mentions urban poverty and economic inequality as someone relevant factors.

"Ms. Lemard and her brackets did no justice to the true problem of gun violence: systemic, socio-economic barriers. Before she receives any credibility on the issue of gang violence, she had best put away her blatantly conservative value-judgments and do some decent research."


Guns and poses: Coming down hard won't stop violence

Yesterday's visit by Prime Minister Paul Martin and Toronto Mayor David Miller to a northwest Toronto community notorious for gang-related crime, and Ottawa's announcement that tougher gun laws are on the way, both show that gun violence is a major concern for Canadians.

Seventy per cent of Toronto's homicides for the year have involved guns, and a large portion seem also to involve black males. Between 1996 and 2002, 10 per cent of all violent crimes committed in Toronto were linked to young men of Jamaican origin. This is high, considering that Jamaicans make up only 3.5 per cent of the city's population.

One reason is drug wars. The drug trade in Jamaica, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom is closely linked. Cold-hearted drug leaders, or "dons," use gun violence to express their rule of law. Break the "law" and punishment is immediate and sure: You die. As the drug industry has gained strength in Jamaica, so has the trade in illegal guns.

Gangs are also a big part of the problem. Jamaican drug gangs (known as "posses" in the United States and "yardies" in the United Kingdom) have been associated with high levels of gun violence in urban centres. But gangs are a substitute for broken families: One Jamaican study found that children whose parents had emigrated were at high risk for joining street gangs or "corner crews," and consequently to engage in more violent behaviour. A former gang member in Jamaica (high school educated, he joined a gang at 15 because he couldn't find a job) once told me that he would kill to protect his "brothers." The bond was strong and the need for respect was paramount. Of course, if the lack of family values and positive socialization helps perpetuate youth violence, other issues (urban poverty, economic inequality, lack of access to jobs and social services) all play a part.

But why do Jamaican immigrants have a high rate of involvement in gun violence? Other immigrant groups also face the pressures of single-family households, lower levels of social support and recent migration. Certain aspects of a Jamaican culture of violence deserve to be considered.

The island nation has one of the world's highest homicide rates: In 2004, the rate was 44 per 100,000 persons. In Canada, the rate was 1.9. The world average is about eight. Jamaica's epidemic started in the 1970s when politicians fighting for political power armed poor young men. In the 1980s and 1990s, gun violence became linked with the drug trade, but that first system of political patronage has had devastating consequences. The criminal justice system has failed to provide an outlet for conflict and dispute resolution. Today, a third of all Jamaican homicides stem from dispute; another third are about reprisal. Minor disputes in Jamaica have the potential to be deadly. Police reports show that quarrels over the ownership of a cooking pot, payment for a pack of cigarettes or a bingo game can lead to murder. Overall, the gun is the main weapon used in reprisals, robberies and drug/gang-related killings.

Efforts to stem gun use in Jamaica have had minimal effects. In an attempt to get guns out of the hands of criminals and rid the streets of violent offenders, the government resorted to extremely punitive measures, such as police raids on inner-city communities, curfews and declarations of states of emergency. And still, gun violence increases.

One lesson here is that a punishment-driven approach is no answer. This method is alienating and divisive. Residents in poor urban communities feel at risk of violence from drug dons, gangs and the police. People feel they are targeted. Unable to trust authorities, they create codes of silence; giving information to the police can be deadly. Jamaica has slowly learned that good police-community relations require a citizen-friendly approach. Community residents in high-risk areas must be empowered to participate actively in finding solutions to deal with violence.

The main antidote the world over is prevention. Helping high-risk adolescents to complete schooling and changing the skills and attitudes of youth are both cost-effective. Canada, too, must strike a balance between the need to stop violence now and to reduce it over the long-run. The perpetrator-chase strategy can lead to moral panic and the risk of race and class profiling. Investing in prevention is the best way.

Glendene Lemard, a Jamaican, is a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

June 19, 2006

Nurtured Nationalism

Nurtured Nationalism

A separatist friend of mine was bitching at me that Trudeau was a separatist so I re-posted this for him to read…it is actually one of my better posts…

Pierre Trudeau used to be a separatist in his youth. SCANDAL!!! Stop the Presses! Sound the Alarm!

Actually I’m not all that surprised.Many Quebeckers grow up separatists only to come to their senses when they see that Quebec shouldn’t leave Canada on the basis that they are different.I grew up a federalist.

I was raised Italian, Liberal, and federalist. There simply was no alternative. I heard my MP, Alfonso Gagliano, say the same federalist propaganda 3 times but in different languages (by the time he hit language number 3, we could say the speech along with him. Good times Isabella) it was the only viewpoint I understood.

My involvement with politics was brought on by my Canadian History teacher, as it is with most Quebeckers. While most francophone teachers preach separatist propaganda, anglophone teachers would preach federalist propaganda. There is no common history in Quebec because blatant nationalism creates an environment that encourages otherwise.

I was lucky. My mother busted her ass to get me into Lower Canada College, at quite the discount, and I had a great Canadian History teacher. He walked into class, and promptly threw the two history textbooks into the garbage. We sat there wide-eyed; he was also the headmaster of the school. He threw both propagandas in the garbage. We only saw that book again when it was time for the final exam. (96% woohoo!)

We still learned about the Acadian Deportation, the Riel execution, the domination of British society in Quebec through the Quiet Revolution. The Charter was a contested document. Meech was potentially flawed, but it was a solution. We learned both sides of every story. We also had to take on roles in historical simulations to help us learn. As I was an adamant student, (much more in history than in Math class trust me) I had the benefit of taking on three roles.

Lord Durham, the British fool who didn’t know any better so he picked the simplest answer for Canada, assimilation. Canadians, all Canadians, said no to that vision. You mean Anglos had a chance to wipe out French Canadians and preferred not to? Guy Carleton made the same choice in 1774. My friends in French school told me they didn’t know Carleton was British and told me francophones fought for the Quebec Act from the British government. Close. Carleton the Bloke fought for them!

Louis Riel, the innocent victim of French Canada. Quebeckers never forgave les Bleus until the Charter was signed in 1981. Then they were pissed off about something else. Louis Riel is the best example we Canadians have of French Canada, not francophones in Quebec. This country is more than two tracts of lands with a language for each tract.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion, leader of les Rouges, or the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, back during the days of Confederation. They opposed Confederation because they knew Macdonald wouldn’t respect provincial jurisdiction. (The Ghost of Benoit Pelletier?) I guess the PLQ existed back in the 1860s! I got to see all the sides of Canadian History I had grown up to disagree with. I put myself in their shoes, and I understood their points of view. It allowed me to develop my own arguments. I was no longer a blind federalist.

Most Canadians learn how great this country is after they finish high school. Once they truly discover Canada, they no longer wish to see its demise. Pierre Trudeau’s most famous writing, and my personal favorite, is about when he is canoeing alone in the Northwest Territories. Word that he used to be a separatist actually makes even more sense now. That epiphany that entered his head as he paddled down that river solidified the views he would carry throughout his entire life.

Being a separatist at 16 or 18 is not a horrible thing. Many of us are enveloped in a nationalist vision because it brings hope and we don’t have the mental capacity to think of all the factors. Our lives have yet to be shaped by events which will develop our ideas. (To Mark Holland, that’s why vote 16 sucks)

Until I went to Ottawa to join a national program with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, I always thought of myself as Italian first then Canadian. I grew up in the ghetto, woptown as I so lovingly call it. Pride to be Italian coursed through my veins more than pride to be Canadian. Meeting people from across Canada helped me develop that Canadian pride. We weren’t all that different. All Canadians, despite language barriers, are actually quite the same.

National symbols are there to reinforce that. They tell us that we share the same citizenship that binds to each other. Some take that nationalism too far and make citizen turn against each other. That is taking it to the extreme and is quite dangerous. However, some national symbols are there simply to remind us we all share the same citizenship.

When Canada wins a hockey game, does it matter where the players come from? Is there a more Canadian moment than the 1987 Canada Cup clinching goal Gretzky to Lemieux?

Is Antoine drinking a Cappucino Glacé any different in Quebec than Anthony drinking an Ice Cappucino in Newfoundland? Not really.

I doubt Pierre Trudeau was thinking about hockey or Timmies as he paddled that day, but he passionately felt bound to this great country. It is that calm sense of belonging that has developed into Canadian nationalism. Would we Canadians do it any other way?

June 18, 2006

Choosing the Flagbearer

Joe Volpe is from the school of politics where if the other guy loses, you win. So when he held up the Globe and Mail and said Michael Ignatieff is too much like Stephen Harper, besides finding out that Joe can read at least at a 9th grade reading level, I also learned that Joe would have rather have an Anti-Harper than a real leader.

Leadership is usually judged when someone goes against the wind. I never believed that this leadership race would give Michael Ignatieff the chance to display the leadership he has displayed throughout his years as an academic and journalist. Most academics are all about how. Journalists prefer to report what, when, and where. Michael always sought out why. It does not help us to be reactionary. We must be pro-active. Therefore, I am happy to say that in some ways, Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper do agree on things. While this might be profoundly difficult for Joe Volpe to understand, the electorate wants someone they can vote for, not someone they will vote against. (I was saying this in 2003, so DUH I know Liberals are not in the best position to say this)

Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper believe we have to support the rebuilding of the Afghan society. They do not believe we should cut and run on an international commitment. While Harper believes we don’t need to honor our other international commitments like Kyoto, Michael has taken the stand that we have to honor these commitments, and that includes the 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid.

Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper both believe in the existence of the fiscal imbalance. They both believe Quebec is a nation. They both believe we should transfer money to provinces without strings. However, while Stephen Harper wants to devolve federal powers to the provinces and make the federal government decentralized, Michael Ignatieff believes the federal government can be strong and provide a common spine of citizenship and work to equalize services across the country with discussion and not with blatant interfering with provincial jurisdictions.

So if that is too close to Harper, sorry Joe. We Liberals always stood up for what was right, not against what the Tories were doing at the time. Stephen Harper should have nothing to do with how Liberals set their values no more than the New York Times should dictate Canadian foreign policy. Opposing for the sake of opposition will only turn us into the NDP. Ask Bob Rae, he will tell you the same thing.

We should not vote on electability alone, we should vote for someone whose principles we agree with. I say this to Michael as well, who was saying we should choose who is the best capable to beat Stephen Harper. The answer to his question is clear. ALL of us will beat Stephen Harper, we just have to choose to carry le drapeau Rouge Libéral, and for that, we must choose the person most in line with our personal values. It is after all, the Liberal way.

June 16, 2006

Simon Begin Joins the Blogosphere

My dear friend Simon Begin has thrown his hat into the blogosphere.

Simon is the President of the PLQ Youth Wing, and despite our differences in terms of some policy, Simon is one of the most committed federalists I know.


I will be sure to have my fair share of fun.

The blog is named 33%, which to the best of my knowledge, is the ratio to the age of Andre Boisclair to be eligible to date him.

Felicitations Simon

June 15, 2006

See Blog Name Above

Fuddle Duddle

Can we please not insult Pierre Trudeau by comparing him to the likes of Pierre Poilievre?

Like seriously, this dude gives young people a bad name. Sure, I swear every 10 seconds, hence the perfect name for this blog, and I have a mind that could, at times, head straight for the gutter, but come on Pierre, you were ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT.

I was upset that people were calling him immature. He isn’t immature, he is flat out stupid. And can we not compare him to one of the greatest Prime Ministers this country has ever seen? Pierre is lucky if he ever holds the Cabinet door open when all the ministers come out of the meeting. If the Conservatives of Nepean-Carleton have any sense, Pierre will be flipping burgers sometime before Fall 2009. Nominate somebody with class please.

Fiscal Imbalance Part Deux

Funny how some Liberals have a very short memory. In 1995, the provinces saw their transfer payments cut in an effort to reduce the federal deficit.

Transfer payments for health education and welfare were combined into the Canada Social Transfer and drastically slashed.

In terms of post-secondary education, we have yet to restore funding to pre-1995 levels, which would require approximately 4 billion dollars a year to fix.

Either way, the federal government owes the provinces money. Some call it fiscal imbalance. Some call it fiscal pressures. Either way, there is a problem.

Where one must be cautious when acknowledging the problem is that one should demand a dollar figure from the provinces. Yves Seguin, the former Quebec finance minister (federalist) pegged that number at 40 billion over 5 years. Since then, as Charest admitted to me in Chertsey, the Health Accord and Child Care deal and Cities deal have lowered that amount.

Paul Martin was working to restore the funding to pre-cut levels. However, why was he refusing to call a spade a spade? If all Canadian priorities that needed attention were in provincial jurisdiction, didn’t that mean the provinces should get more money to address those problems?

Regaining the confidence of Quebeckers will require us to be honest with the population. We can call it whatever we want but the federal government has a responsibility now that it has gotten its fiscal act together to at least restore funding to pre-1995 levels.

Once we do that, the provinces cannot blame the federal government for not coughing over the cash. THAT is a federalism of respect. It requires honesty both ways. The honesty begins with the federal government saying we cut too much in 1995.

This is not caving into the provinces. Hardly, it is removing the “blame the federal government” card away from them. They use it justly now, but after funding is restored, provinces will only have themselves to blame if they falter.

June 14, 2006

Fiscal Imbalance – It’s About Time We Own Up

Alex and I used to call the Fiscal Imbalance the Mental Imbalance. (Desequilibre Mental) To us Liberals, provinces who could raise their own taxes couldn’t possibly blame the federal government for getting their fiscal act together. I still maintain that provinces could raise taxes or spend more efficiently to find more money for their programs. However, I believe Liberals must come to terms with the fact that the federal government does collect too much money. The evidence was given to me by none other than Paul Martin.

The separatist argument of the fiscal imbalance is that the federal government collects too much money and uses it to screw Quebeckers, who would be better off without a federal government. Now I got so caught up with how ridiculous the second half of that statement is to not ponder the merits of the first half. To avoid blaming my own stubbornness, I am blaming the Bloc!

Paul Martin’s three main accomplishments of his mandate were Health Care, Day Care, and Cities. To the casual observer, it would seem like Paul Martin was running for Premier of a Canadian province. With 61 billion dollars over 10 years for these three provincial priorities, Paul Martin was basically saying that the priorities of Canadians rested in s. 92 of the Constitution, in provincial jurisdiction. After coming up with massive surpluses for 8 consecutive years, the under funded areas rested with the provinces, who were struggling to keep up.

Now did the PQ government have to cut taxes in 2001 and continue to blame the federal government for being short on cash? Of course not. However, that does not address the fact that the federal government still collects way more cash than it needs to operate its responsibilities. Therefore, an imbalance does exist. How we fix the imbalance is up for debate. But at least we got past the point that the federal government has too much money.

Some like to call it a shell game. However, it really clicked in my head in Chertsey, when, much to the dismay of some PLQ youth, I was the first to ask Jean Charest a question. Some thought I was gonna skin the man alive. The room became eerily silent.

I wanted a clarification. I was concerned that Harper and Charest might be duping Canadians into thinking the imbalance was solved. So I asked how despite the fact Harper gave nothing to address the fiscal imbalance and if he was gonna actually have targets as to how much would be necessary to solve the problem. Was he gonna stick to the 40 billion dollar mark set by Yves Seguin in his report?

Charest’s answer renewed (well I should say restored) my confidence in the man. He acknowledged the successes of the previous government in reducing the gap and expressed his interest of solving the problem. That is the debate we should be having. No more denying the problem is there. We have to address it head on and not allow the separatists to use our denials as a weapon against Canada.

Anybody who wishes to recapture Quebeckers must earn their respect again. Denying the problem exists is a lack of respect, similar to denying the obvious that Quebec itself is a nation. For Quebeckers, they will not be able to trust a party who still denies it. Neither will they trust a messenger who sticks to the sacred cow of denying the fiscal imbalance.

The next federal Liberal leader must come up with ways to address the fiscal imbalance. At a minimum, they must acknowledge its existence before Quebeckers brush them off. My friends all know how much I adore Stephane Dion. However, his nuanced insistence that the fiscal imbalance is separatist mythology will be a death knell to our party’s chances in the next election. We need leaders who challenge problems head on instead of denying they exist. On fiscal imbalance, Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff are on the right track. For Quebec to return to the Liberals, we need this vision to prevail and must choose a leader who firmly believes in it.

June 10, 2006

In the words of Wayne in Wayne's World: Live in the now

There is already a host of evidence that safe-injection sites, such as the one in downtown Vancouver, decrease incidences of overdose and transmission of infection diseases, but to socially-conservative critics, this information has done little to quell their disgust with a practice they argue only "encourages" users.

However, a recent New England Journal of Medecine study proves that the more a user visits a safe-injection site, the more likely he or she will be to enter a detoxification program.

I can only hope that this is the final piece of credible evidence proves to cynics that safe-injection sites are not a pointless stop-gap measure, but a worthy and wise investment.

June 6, 2006

The End is Near

So two old Italian men came to my door on 6/6/06 and told me the world was going to come to end soon if “we allow satanic rituals like abortion and homosexuality to continue”.

Then they wanted to sell me a bible!
Needless to say I wasn’t in the mood. Anybody wanna guess what I said.

June 5, 2006

Let’s Re-open Gay Marriage Debate - with a response to Cherniak

Stephen Harper is sticking his neck out on the line. He has to placate the religious right in this country who wants to deny two people the right to sign a court document saying they vow to love each other forever.

The Liberals, well most of them, argued their side very well in the last parliament. Why should we do Harper a favor and let 85 Tory MPs who voted against last time get off? We have to be willing to defend the charter at any time. Besides, Harper wants to debate what people believe is a fundamental issue. My guess is he gives it another six hours.

In the years since the courts started marrying gays, society has not collapsed. The Church has suffered more damage at the hands of a 435 page novel about a Renaissance painter. It surprises many people that I remain a devout Catholic given my rather strong views on the issue. I was taught that everyone is supposed to love everyone. I was taught that we must care for all of our brothers and sisters because there is only one judge, and that we should not try to do his job. After all, wasn’t Jesus the first socialist?

So why let Harper get off with a free pass? I say we should be proud to defend our beliefs again. What will it cost us? 6 hours of our lives? It is the least the Liberals could do to defend the Charter we so lovingly repatriated 24 years ago. It doesn’t ever hurt to be right does it?


I am just gonna respond to Jason Cherniak, who I enjoy reading, but with whom I disagree with from time to time.

Stephen Harper has framed the debate so he can get away without damaging either wing of his party. Nobody ever called the man stupid. Harper doesn’t need to ask our permission to re-open the debate, he can just re-open it. There was no debate to kill the gun registry. There was no debate to kill Kyoto. Harper now wants our permission to debate killing gay marriage?

The Liberals need to grow a backbone here. For those who accuse me of playing politics with the issue, you are clearly mistaken. Harper is playing games. Don’t ask for a debate, have the damn debate. He gave the extension of a military mission 6 hours; I expect he would do the same for SSM. If the Liberals want to treat it as a closed issue, let them support SSM on the actual vote, not on the permission slip.

For Quebeckers, there is no such thing as a closed issue. Our federalist premier trails in the polls presently, although the fire in Jean Charest is back, and I think he will bounce back to win. But with the PQ ahead in the polls and talking of a referendum, you would think we could only wish for closed issues.

As a result, I believe the Bloc might vote to have a debate. The hypocrisy there would be too hard to resist.

As for Joke Layton and the NDP, aren’t they only there to have debates? Following NDP logic, debates get results for working families! Perhaps we should have a second debate on how parliamentarians are allowed to have a conscience. They should have no fear of debating the issue again, to their credit, they never feared debating this.

This is not playing with the rights of gays and lesbians, but re-affirming our support for them. Are we really scared to vote on this again? Harper wants to make sure his right-wing base is placated while not scaring the Quebeckers and Ontarians he wishes to woo next election. You have to pick one Stephen. We have to make him pick one. Remember how he wanted to kill this issue quick early in the NOVEMBER portion of the election campaign? Let’s not get him off the hook again.

Harper’s issue is that the Liberals rushed the bill through Parliament. While I think there was ample debate, I say let’s dance. We have a few months to convince members of our caucus to support SSM, not to support not talking about it. Take it from experience, SSM can be a very difficult pill to swallow, and I believe Canadians have not swallowed it. Once SSM passes in a Conservative Parliament, Canadians will have swallowed the pill and they will have some closure on the issue for themselves.

June 2, 2006

The Fever

Saint Leonard is abuzz. Everyone is talking. For the next month, this enclave of Montreal becomes an extension of their old home. Old Italian ladies are cleaning out their basements, getting all the equipment out.

Ask anyone around where they are from, you will not get one Canada. For the next month, we do not take orders from Stephen Harper, but from Marcello Lippi. The new Axis of Evil is the Czech Republic, Ghana, and the United States. The lesser Axis of Evil is the countries which the referees come from.

Imaginations run rampant of secret soccer training centres deep in the mountains of Utah, and of referee conspiracies. Our players are so awesome they can’t possibly lose legitimately right?

The flags are out. The national anthem has been practiced. Lineups have been committed to memory. Faces have been painted. The FEVER has arrived.