|“Moral authority” to govern is over for Harper Conservatives.||Michael Darnell’s 2009 article addressing Harper’s hypocritical questioning of Ignatieff’s patriotism|
But their assault on those they deem unworthy by virtue of their sexual orientation is more profound. This government has been systematically tearing down the institutions put in place to protect them.
When heading the Alliance Party, Harper vowed to use the notwithstanding clause in the Constitution to overturn same-sex marriage, prompting the article featured above.
According to Christian Nadeau in his new book Rogue in Power, “the Conservatives choose not to make possible what they refuse to tolerate, and so they discourage certain practices rather than actually prohibiting them.” (1)
There is a belief among many, encouraged by the various Religious Right groups helping to keep them in power, that “homosexuality can be cured”, as if it was a disease.
But rather than openly denouncing them, they have been working behind the scenes to force them out of the public sphere.
Jason Kenney’s appointment of anti-gay Doug Cryer to the refugee board that decides whether gays get refugee status in Canada, raised some eyebrows. Cryer believes that churches should be able to teach that Homosexuality is a sin, suggesting that “It is part of God’s teaching.”
Funny I don’t remember being taught hatred and discrimination in my catechism classes.
When it was made public that Diane Ablonczy had given $400,000 to the Toronto Gay Pride parade for security, her colleague Brad Trost went on a campaign to ensure his Fundamentalist supporters that his Party did not approve of such things.
She was fired and the following year the funding was suspended. Most governments would look on the parade as the tourist attraction that it is, but again the Conservatives attempted to “not to make possible what they refuse to tolerate”.
In 2009 Stephen Harper also sent a clear message to the LGBT community with the hiring of Nigel Hannaford.
It recruited Nigel Hannaford, a former Calgary Herald columnist who is especially known for his opposition to demands by gays and lesbians for legal rights, to work as a speechwriter for Stephen Harper. In a widely circulated article, the newspaper Xtra! pointed out that, back in 2005, Hannaford questioned the decriminalization of homosexuality, enacted in 1969: “Fine, said lots of people. Leave gays alone enough. But, let ‘em be Boy Scout leaders? Have each other’s benefits? Adopt kids? Marry each other? Ridiculous.
Anybody seeking political office who suggested it would have been laughed off the hustings. Yet, the Liberals are ready to legalize gay marriage. How did we get to this point?” Whatever Hannaford may write for Harper, it is typical of this government to select a wordsmith who is one of Canada’s best known critics of gay rights.
He also claimed in discussing gay marriage (I’ll be so glad when we can just call it marriage) “that Canadian society had been turned upside down in the last thirty-five years and that it was absurd to use a legal lens to view what had been a serious sin just a few decades earlier.”
Harper also signalled his intolerance by appointing David Mosely Brown to the Bench in Ontario. Brown is a well known anti-gay activist. According to Marci McDonald in the Armageddon Factor:
A devout Catholic, Brown has described himself publicly as a Christian lawyer, and, at a 2006 conference shortly before his appointment to the bench, he reminded law students motivated by similar beliefs that, “As a Christian lawyer, you are called to practice your trade and conduct your life in accordance with your faith.” Legal principles were important, he told them, but a barrister’s dignity springs from “membership in the community founded and sustained by God … not in some free-standing notion of freedom or autonomy.” Earlier, during a debate on same-sex matrimony, he made clear that he objected to the proposed legislation, warning that “Within a few generations, marriage will have no practical meaning and society will be the worse for that.”
Still, it was one thing for a lawyer to bring his faith into the courtroom, quite another for a judge to do the same. As critics pointed out, Brown’s appointment raised questions about his impartiality should he be assigned a case involving gay rights or pro-choice issues. “I think people should be aware of the views he has,” said Carolyn Egan of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, “and how they could potentially impact on future decisions.”
But that task was one largely left up to the press. Ironically, while Harper had pressed for hearings to grill Supreme Court nominees, there were no such hearings to explore the views of his hundreds of other appointees to lower levels of the bench. For those probing Brown’s judicial philosophy, the chief clues came from an organization he had often represented in court, the Christian Legal Fellowship, whose founding principle is a rebuttal to every damning lawyer joke. “The vocation of law is a calling from God,” it declares, and barristers themselves are “instruments through which the Holy Spirit of God works.”(2)
As Nadeuau asks: “How can recognition of gays and lesbians be advanced, and how can the social scorn they are still subjected to be challenged, if the government itself is playing a role in denying their dignity and trivializing prejudice towards them?
When we go to the polls on May 2, we have to send a clear message, that this is not the kind of Canada we want to live in.
Because if we don’t, are we really prepared to live with the consequences?
1. Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5
2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3