OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Federal Conservatives

The federal Conservatives quietly removed protections against hate speech from Canada’s Human Rights Act last week, stripping Human Rights Commissions of their power to investigate hatred or violence incited against identifiable minorities. The first sign that this might not have been a good idea: White supremacists immediately celebrated.

Tories Normalize Marriage Laws

February 20th, 2012

A despondent Stephen Harper thinks to himself: "What have I become?"

The federal Conservative Party introduced a bill on Friday that would explicitly confirm the validity same-sex marriages granted to foreigners in Canada, and extend the right to divorce to any foreign couple whose marriages are recognized in their country of origin.

This bill puts an end to a bizarre government court case where a federal lawyer tried to argue that all Canadian same-sex marriages issued to foreigners are invalid, understandably causing a whole lotta drama last month.

It’s pretty rare that the Tories do the right thing when it comes to GLBT issues, even for no-brainers like this, but this was definitely the correct action to take. So in what’s probably the first such occurrence in the history of this site, I shall extend a pat upside the head to the Tories for taking care of this swiftly and reasonably.

Of course, considering Stephen Harper’s backwards views on equal marriage rights, I imagine he must be curled up in a corner right now, hugging his knees, rocking himself softly to sleep. When you govern a country as progressive and diverse as Canada, sometimes you have to sacrifice your personal prejudices. (Sometimes, but clearly not always.)

New airport screening rules introduced by the Harper Conservatives appears to have the side-effect of banning trans Canadians from flying entirely. Section 5.2(1)C of the Aeronautics Act now states that anyone who “does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents” is barred from flying. While I doubt this was a deliberate action against trans Canadians, it certainly demonstrates that they aren’t in the government’s consciousness. (Well, either that, or they really, really like trans Canadians and never want them leave.)

Unspinning The Same-Sex Marriage Fiasco

January 16th, 2012

Stephen Harper tapdances with a cane and top hat.

On Thursday, an article in the Globe and Mail declared that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had annulled over five thousand Canadian same-sex marriages issued to non-residents since 2005. Worldwide panic and probably cannibalism ensued, with the government rapidly trying to diffuse the situation, and the media using a mixture of government-fed information and political spin to make things supremely confusing for anyone hoping to understand exactly what happened in the first place.

So, what did happen?

Depending on which articles you read, the situation has been described as anything from a sneaky reversal of marriage policy followed by intense backpedaling (I’m looking at you, Globe and Mail), to a heroic government announcement granting foreign same-sex couples legal recognition for the first time (That’s you, National Post). The truth is a third option entirely, and is every bit as boring as you’d expect the details of international law to be.

To spare you an unwanted nap, here’s what I understand in the utmost of brevity: A couple from the UK got married in Canada and then later decided they wanted a divorce. When it comes to divorce and other matters of legal consequence, though, it turns out that Canadian law requires that the couple’s marriage be recognized in their country of citizenship. A lawyer with the Department of Justice, arguing on behalf of the government, thus declared that the couple’s same-sex marriage is not legally recognizable in this case, and was therefore never valid in the first place. This, he extended, means that virtually all other same-sex marriages issued to foreigners are likewise invalid.

A poo tempest followed.

Now, I’m not at all fond of being in the position of defending Stephen Harper’s Conservatives (I find most of their policies indefensible and the others generally pretty sucky), but I truly think this whole interpretation caught them off guard. I don’t believe that the Department of Justice lawyer was arguing based on explicit instruction from the PMO, nor do I think Harper is actively seeking to end same-sex marriage in Canada. (He still does his best to prevent other advances in equality and protection; equalizing the age of consent and adding protections for trans Canadians comes to mind, but I sincerely don’t think he wants to take away our right to marry.)

At any rate, despite what you may read, there was no policy change here—just a lawyer making a foolish argument. Rather than side with the lawyer’s interpretation, the government has stated that they will remedy the situation the same way I would: Explicitly clarify the law to recognize marriages in legal matters, no matter what the legality of those marriages are in the couple’s home country.

What I wouldn’t do, though, is then try to score extra political points by blaming this debacle on the previous Liberal government, which is exactly what the Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson did in front of the media: “This is a legislative gap left by the Liberal government of the day when the law was changed in 2005,” he said. “The confusion and pain resulting from this gap is completely unfair to those who are affected.”

This legislative gap—which I doubt can accurately be described as such—existed long before same-sex marriage was even a reality in Canada. If the Tories had been in power in 2005 we simply wouldn’t have noticed because gays would not be able to marry—and since virtually all opposite-sex marriages are recognized abroad, no case to highlight this “gap” would ever have been brought forward. (Once Mr. Nicholson renounces the injustice demonstrated by the Tories in their previous attempts to prevent and then strip away our marriage rights, he may then comment on the unfairness of those affected by the government’s own lawyer’s interpretation.)

So, what should we take away from all this?

Something very encouraging, indeed.

Attempts to strip rights away from gay people will result in a demonstrated public outrage capable of severely threatening the government’s popularity. Despite some very loud voices of bigotry out there, support for equal rights and acceptance of gay people is the mainstream view in Canada. And that’s worth celebrating.

Tories Condemn Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill

December 12th, 2011

John Baird thinks to himself: "What's the least I can do here?"

The federal Conservative Party—who re-affirmed an official party policy to ban same-sex marriage in Canada only 6 months ago—has issued a strong condemnation toward Nigeria for a draconian law that punishes same-sex wedding participants with up to 14 years in jail.

Well, that’s a tad severe of Nigeria, wouldn’t you say? I may have to cancel all my planned vacations to Maiduguri and Ogbomoso in protest.

A condemnation was undoubtedly the right thing to do on the part of the Tories (and specifically John Baird), but it doesn’t seem particularly meaningful when their own party policy only differs in the punishment, not attitude toward the law itself.

Nigeria’s proposed bill is also a very easy thing to condemn, since the punishment is about as proportionate to the crime as women MPs are to the rest of the Conservative party.

But, hey. Baby steps, right?

Tories Release “It Gets Better” Video

October 24th, 2011

Vic Toews declares: "It gets better, despite my total douchebaggery."

The federal Conservative party has released an “It Gets Better” video, telling GLBT teens to stick through the tough times after another bullying-related suicide made headlines last week.

Now, I believe the Tories sincerely wish to reduce teen suicides, but the fact is they’ve consistently acted to effect policies to make life worse for GLBT Canadians. Without any actions to back up this sudden (and rather late) sentiment, I can’t take it particularly seriously.

Out of the MPs to speak in the video, all but two voted against extending existing hate crime protections to trans Canadians—and that was just in May. And out of all the video’s participants that were sitting during Canada’s same-sex marriage debate, only one (John Baird) voted for equal marriage rights for GLBT Canadians, with the rest all voting to restrict or even revoke such rights. Vic Toews in particular has not demonstrated any efforts to give gay Canadians equal treatment under the law, having actually introduced a motion to revoke same-sex marriage in 2006, even encouraging use of Canada’s obscure Notwithstanding clause to ensure such a ban would survive if the courts ruled it to be unconstitutional. He even attempted to introduce a bill that would have allowed secular civil servants to deny public services to gay couples. And this was during his term as Canada’s justice minister. The party itself adopted a policy to revoke equal marriage rights by defining marriage as opposite-sex only during its convention in June—just four months ago.

Politicians are in the unique position to say things will get better, and then actually help make it happen. If they want people like me to take this video seriously, they should have done it in the opposite order.

Tories Raise The Spectre Of A Same-Sex Marriage Ban

June 13th, 2011

En nomine Harperus, matrimonium gayus invitamus resurgere a moruis! Lorem ipsum!!

Well, that didn’t take very long, did it?

Just weeks after Canada’s federal election, delegates at the Conservative Party Convention have raised a dead social issue over the weekend, discussing and voting on a resolution to ban same-sex marriage in Canada.

While a same-sex marriage ban had already been official Conservative Party policy, delegates readily voted to re-affirm it, adding in new measures that would let religious organisations deny facilities and services to same-sex couples. The resolution also included a wording change to clarify that this is Conservative Party policy, and not necessarily official government policy. The latter change was likely the government’s attempt to distance itself from contentious social issues early in their mandate, although it’s now perfectly clear what the party’s goals are overall.

So, what does all this mean for the GLBT community in Canada? First, that Canada’s governing party is not here for you. This is hardly a surprise, considering the party’s history of hostility toward GLBT citizens, but with Stephen Harper’s attempts to paint the Conservatives as Canada’s new, natural governing party, a lot of people have forgotten the party’s social conservative roots.

More worryingly, though, the overwhelming support of this resolution from within the party suggests that a backbencher’s bill to ban same-sex marriage, if introduced, would easily find the numbers required to pass, even if the government would rather keep it off the agenda.

Now, with nine consecutive provincial court rulings affirming that equal marriage is a right guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a bill to rescind these rights would face some—shall we say—difficulties. So, let’s put on our cowboy boots for a moment and imagine what, exactly, would be required here.

First, it’s important to note that the Supreme Court of Canada has never ruled on the constitutionality of a same-sex marriage ban. The government is in a position to appoint judges that could dissent from the individual provincial courts’ longstanding consensus, and could conceivably do just that. Perhaps weirder, even if the Supreme Court sided with the nine earlier court rulings in favour of equal marriage rights, an obscure constitutional clause could be used by the government to strip them away anyway in five-year intervals without legal recourse.

This isn’t unheard of. In late 2000, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government, under the leadership of Ralph Klein, invoked Section 33 of the Charter—the Notwithstanding Clause—to ban same-sex marriage in the province. By using this clause, the government effectively acknowledged that their law violated the Charter of Rights, but allowed it to remain on the books completely immune from court challenges for a period of five years (at which point they would have had the option pass it again). The only reason the government didn’t invoke the clause a second time in 2005 was because marriage is federal jurisdiction and by that time Paul Martin’s Liberal government had already granted equal marriage rights to citizens nationwide.

Today, Canada’s federal government is formed by a party in support of banning same-sex marriage, and the Notwithstanding clause is available at their discretion. So, despite challenges, they could absolutely take away your right to marry if they wanted.

Now, are any of these doomsday scenarios likely? I’m going to say no. If I had to bet on it, I’d say the government’s desire to stay in power outweighs the cries from their base to force the wedding ring off my finger. Use of the Notwithstanding clause would likely appear mean-spirited and unpopular to the Canadian public, and it would be unusual for the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn nine consecutive lower court rulings—certainly a phenomenon for the history books.

Nonetheless, the fact that there is landslide majority support within Canada’s governing party to venture down this path re-confirms what I’ve always suspected: The Conservative Party is full of giant douches. So hold on to your hats, kids! Even if all this party policy nonsense turns out to be the idle threats that I suspect they are, I still foresee four years of obnoxious barium saline suspension waves coming our way. Yuck.

Gay Conservatives Promote Fabulous Blue Tent

June 10th, 2011

A blue tent sits in the middle of a very scary forest

Yesterday marked the start of the Canadian Conservative Party’s national convention. Canada’s only right-wing party has been celebrating their recent 39% majority government victory, so it promises to be a fun-filled weekend of military strategies, handshakes, brutalizing criminals, and tight public relations control. Enjoyment all ’round!

I don’t particularly wish I could be there because I intensely dislike this political party, but if I did want to go—and I don’t—I might almost be tempted to stop by the Fabulous Blue Tent, an unofficial side-event for gay Conservatives to mingle.

There’s no reason, of course, that gay people can’t hold traditionally conservative principles, particularly when it comes to economics and such, but considering this particular party’s near constant hostility toward gay people and their equal rights, it strikes me as an odd one to affiliate oneself with if you’re gay.

On the event’s Facebook page, one invitee lamented “Would like to [attend], but it’s my anniversary.”

Yes, please by all means enjoy your anniversary. Particularly if you happen to be gay, because you wouldn’t have one to celebrate if the Conservatives had a majority in 2006.

Anyway, I’m not sure what sort of events are planned in the Fabulous Blue Tent, but I like to think I can help advertise all GLBT organisation activities. So, if you’re a masochist GLBT community member with backwards, well, backwards political leanings who’s in the mood for free Harper-style haircuts, a complimentary snack platter of dried apricots and Neo-Citron, and a ragtime rendition of The Sound of Music (probably)—then head on down to the Westin Hotel in Ottawa today at 10:00 PM!

Almost no details can be found on their official website.

Have a great weekend, kids!

The 2011 Gay Candidate Breakdown

April 27th, 2011

Jack Layton, in the style of Professor Layton, says that a gentleman always gives everyone a fair shake, Luke.

So, there’s an election happening in Canada. If you live here, I’m sure you’ve been following it very closely and consequently have lost most of your hair due to exasperated tugging. If you live outside of Canada, you’re probably still up to speed since the international news media incessantly reports on Canadian politics, just like they do for the United States. (Snicker.)

Now, with 308 seats up for grabs and most of the major parties running a candidate in each riding, there should be some queer representation out there. And, indeed there is! According to Xtra, here’s how it adds up:

At the top of the list, we’ve got the New Democratic Party (led by Jack Layton) which has 10 openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual candidates. Next up is the Green Party (led by Elizabeth May) with 5. The Liberal Party (led by Michael Ignatieff) comes in third place with 3. And, to the surprise of no one, the Conservatives (led by Dillwad McHamsterface) are dead last with zero.

These numbers are exactly what I’d expect. The NDP have always had a pretty good record in supporting equal rights for GLBT Canadians, alongside the Greens who also include equality in their platform. The Liberals are mostly supportive, with some division within the party, and the Conservatives, bafflingly, fight against equal rights with clockwork consistency, often even trying to strip these rights away. It’s no wonder then, that GLBT Canadians with political aspirations are largely associating themselves with the NDP and Greens.

Will any of these translate into seats? That’s a different question—and it’s up to you. Yes, you. Well, unless you don’t have Canadian citizenship, in which case please don’t vote in this election. That’d be illegal.

Anti-Gay Cabinet Minister Gets Honorary Degree

October 18th, 2010

This illustration is to certify Vic Toews as the first recipient of an Honorary Slap.

Conservative MP Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Saftey, was awarded an honorary Law degree from the University of Winnipeg yesterday admist student protest. Standing on stage with Toews, valedictorian Erin Larson said she was not proud of the University’s decision to confer the degree, adding that the school had lost its integrity. Outside, students protested with signs.

Toews was an outspoken opponent of equal marriage rights for gay couples during his ironic term as Justice Minister. Calling the legalization of same-sex marriage “a mistake” despite nine consecutive lower court rulings declaring it a constitutional necessity, he actively fought against the courts’ unanimous consensus. He introduced a House motion in 2006 to revisit the law, opening the door to end marriage rights for gays and have existing same-sex marriages annulled. Acknowledging that the law would be unconstitutional, the Justice Minister suggested the use of Canada’s obscure Notwithstanding Clause which could legally pass laws known to be unconstitutional for five years at a time. If he had succeeded, I wouldn’t be married today.

After his motion was defeated, Toews attempted to introduce a bill ostensibly titled the Defense of Religion Act. The bill would have allowed civil servants, such as civil marriage commissioners and justices of the peace, to deny public services to gay couples.

Personally, I think universities are welcome to confer degrees to whomever they choose, though I think it shows a certain amount of laziness to select controversial figures (such as politicians still in the middle of their careers) without considering whether or not their actions have been consistent with the university’s own values and policies.

And, of course, I’m welcome to confer my own Honorary Slaps to whomever I choose. Vic Toews seems like a pretty good first candidate, don’t you think?

Tories Snub Pride Parade Again

August 18th, 2010

Stephen Harper marches at a gay pride parade shirtless.

Last Sunday was Montréal’s 18th annual Pride parade, and it was fantastic! Organizations, businesses, churches, sports groups, hobby groups, and tons of other equal-rights supporters marched down a brand new parade route in view of over 100,000 spectators. The parade even included politicians from every party—except one.

As in previous years, politicians of all stripes were invited by Pride organizers to come and join in the celebrations, and—like the years before it—the Conservative invitees ignored it entirely. Their absence didn’t go unnoticed, either. Speaking to the media in French, author and television personality, Jasmin Roy, was particularly succinct: “I don’t think we could speak of this as indifference; it’s clear the Harper government doesn’t like gay people.”

Indeed, Stephen Harper’s Tories have fought against equal rights for gay people at every conceivable step, opposing everything from marriage equality (even after it had become law) and protection from hate crimes, to smaller offensive gestures like removing all references to homosexuality from their new immigrant guides.

Given their behavioural history, I never really expected to see Tory party representation in the parade. Actually, I would have been shocked to see it and probably would have joined in a chorus of boos—an appropriate gesture of no where near the level of disrespect and consequence that this government has already displayed toward us gays.

Still, this is a very public example of what our government doesn’t represent, and that’s all Canadians. Whether Tories like it or not, the government is here to represent everybody—not just those that voted for them. And while Harper’s Tories may have a profound lack of sensitivity and understanding toward gay people, we’re still a large and vibrant community whose contributions to the country should have been acknowledged with representation at our biggest and most important cultural event. Honte à vous, Monsieur ‘Arper!

Tories Cut Pride Funding

May 10th, 2010

Man attempts to stab a screaming pride flag

Pride Toronto has been denied any funding this year from the federal government. The festival, which had previously been supported with federal tourism programs, brought in an estimated $100 million in tourism dollars last year, most of which was subject to GST/PST.

This denial of funds is not much of a surprise considering the Conservative’s attack on gay festivals last year. Diane Ablonsky was removed from her position immediately after announcing that she had allocated $400,000 to Pride Toronto to help make the festival events more accessible to people with disabilities. Immediately after, the Tories cut funding to Montréal’s Divers/Cité festival and the Black and Blue festival.

Don’t think that these cuts were across the board, mind you. The federal government has still allocated $100,000,000 over two years to support tourism in Canada. Industry Minister Tony Clement touted the program as representing “every corner of Canada,” but I guess gays aren’t in one of those corners, since not a single gay cultural event is represented.

Here are a few of the things that are:

  • Burlington’s Ribfest will get $98,610
  • The Gatineau balloon festival will be receiving $170,000
  • The Ontario Plowmen’s Association will receive $255,460
  • The Norfolk Horse Show will get $171,000
  • Old Home Week will receive $134,888

And let’s not forget the Calgary Stampede, which will receive $1,001,625. That’s only $80,000 less than the second balloon festival being given federal funds this year, the Saint-Jean-sur-Richeliu balloon festival, at $1,082,100.

Well, I sure hope some of those balloons are rainbow-coloured, because that’s about as gay as it’s going to get this year.

Anti-Gay Columnist Hired To Write Harper’s Speeches

October 23rd, 2009

(Furiously hiss toward camera while raking podium top.)

One of the hardest things about the whole same-sex marriage debate back in 2005/2006 was simply picking up the newspaper or turning on the television and feeling attacked and maligned every day. It was relentless: The gays are destroying this, the gays will undermine that, they’re worse than X, they have no right to Y… Unless you’re LGBT, I think it’s hard to understand exactly how that affects human spirit.

At the time, I was living in Calgary—home of Stephen Harper’s own riding and the heartland of Canada’s social conservatism. If you asked me to make a list of all the crazies in the media that irked me the most, there’s a columnist that would be near the top. Now, I didn’t exactly frame Nigel Hannaford’s delightfully panicked columns for posterity, but Xtra found some typical examples of his, uh, scribery:

Leave gays alone? Fair 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?

Well, guess who’s been hired as Stephen Harper’s new speech writer?

You know my email address, right? I’ll wait here for your guesses.

(So… Chilly weather we’ve been having, eh? That reminds me, I ought to buy a pumpkin for Halloween before it’s too late and all the good ones are taken. There’ll only be ones with squished sides totally caked in dried soil, I just know it.)

OK, I’ll just say it: It’s Nigel Hannaford!

He’s not the first anti-gay extremist to be given a top PMO gig, and won’t be the last. Still, this is an unusually visible position to give a writer whose opinion is held only by a small and shrinking minority of Canadians—and particularly from within a party that desperately needs to paint itself as moderate in order to win majority support.

If Hannaford’s speeches are any bit as unmeasured as his columns, well, we’ll see what Canadians think. He won’t just be speaking to the Conservative heartland anymore, after all; it’s the whole country.

(A big hat tip goes to Montreal Simon for alerting me to the story!)

Canadian Policy Changes Remove Transgender Recognition

August 28th, 2009

Spiral lipstick those curfew nonunion tonnage.

It looks like the transgender community is being left in the dust after some government-approved language changes at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency. All occurrences of “gender equality” in policy documents have been replaced with “equality of men and women,” leaving out everyone in-between.

Lindsay Mossman, a campaigner at Amnesty International, said the change is more significant than it may seem:

[Equality of men and women] is language that was used in development circles years ago. Language has progressed for reasons and moved forward and the Canadian government doesn’t seem to be reflecting [that].

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon (henceforth known as Alien Matters Manager Orderance Trebuchet) confirmed to the press (henceforth known as the ironing) that some of the wording changes did, indeed, signal a change in policy, although he wouldn’t confirm whether this change was one of them. If this is a policy change, it has implications for immigrants and refugees, as well as funding decisions for GLBT organisations. Sneaky sneaky!

Conservatives Deny GLBT Festival Funding

July 27th, 2009

The bunny's out of the bag!

Divers/Cité, Montréal’s annual GLBT arts and culture festival has been denied all federal funding, despite meeting the necessary requirements. The news came just days before the festival was to begin, and just weeks after the Conservative cultural minister, Diane Ablonczy, was removed from her duties for allocating $400,000 for Toronto’s Pride Week celebrations.

Like the fallout from Toronto’s Pride Week’s funding decision, the ideological underpinnings of this decision are pretty freakin’ obvious, and perhaps even stronger. While it could be weakly argued that Toronto’s Pride Week was a political event, and not a cultural event eligible for funding, this can not be said of Divers/Cité. There are no parades, no rallies, and no campaigning. (These take place mid-August during Montréal’s separate Gay Pride festival, Célébrations de la Fierté.) Divers/Cité consists, instead, of outdoor concerts, film screenings, photo and art exhibitions, and other select cultural events. Only the most uptight would find any of the events objectionable.

The festival is one of Montréal’s largest, drawing millions of tourism dollars and hundreds of thousands of participants. The festival is also the first applicant meeting all the requirements for funding to be denied. This is particularly relevant as the $155,000 price tag would have been a pittance next to the $2 million spent for Calgary’s Stampede, $6 million spent for the Just for Laughs and Montréal Jazz festivals, and $1.4 million for the French music festival, FrancoFolies. The money comes out of $100 million that has already been allocated for just these sorts of festivals in Canada.

Seems like there’s some new funding requirements in place, and they’re pretty straightforward. Anything supportive of the GLBT population and culture is ineligible. And if funding accidentally gets allocated for gay cultural events, there are consequences and measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Those Tories!

(Thanks to Slap readers John and Jim, who alerted me to the story during my birthday hiatus!)

Tories Stealthily Slam Cabinet Minsiter Over Pride Support

July 8th, 2009

It's like looking into the face of pure anger

Conservative cabinet minister Diane Ablonczy is being torn a new one by a fellow Tory over a decision to help fund Toronto’s Gay Pride Week. The pummelling, however, appears to be limited to some pretty obscure venues, consisting of mostly extreme, social conservative websites.

Brad Trost, a Conservative MP, was quoted by the ultra right-wing opinion website LifeSite News as saying that “almost the entire Conservative caucus” and “most of the Prime Minister’s Office” was shocked by Diane’s funding announcement,  adding that Diane had been “reassigned” for the blunder. “The pro-life and the pro-family community should know,” said Trost, “that the funding money that went to the gay pride parade in Toronoto was not government policy.”

Despite the scathing announcement found on small, targeted venues, mainstream media sources were unable to confirm the government’s policy and Diane’s firing over the issue, receiving only denials about the reassignment.

After repeated requests for information, a Conservative insider has confirmed to Slap that they totally remember mailing out the angry announcement to everyone, but most of it must have just been lost in the mail or something.

Update: Since I wrote this, it looks like a real, mainstream news source has confirmed that Diane has, indeed, been reassigned, but the Conservatives are denying that this has anything to do with the Pride funding. Oh, that’s good! I’m glad it has nothing to do with the reasons that Diane’s colleagues say it is when talking to smaller, targeted sources.

Tories Donate $400,000 For Toronto Pride Week

June 17th, 2009

A natural reaction

The federal Conservatives have donated close to half-a-million dollars for Pride Toronto to promote the city’s 10-day gay Pride festival and make it more accessible for people with disabilities.

Toronto Pride brings in millions of tourism dollars each year, and the money will help keep the event competitive in a weak economy. The generous gesture has also secured an appearance by a major headliner, yet to be announced.

Neat!

I guess it just goes to show you: The federal Conservatives will fight to stop you from having equal marriage rights; they’ll fight to prevent you from being protected by hate crime legislation; they’ll embrace dangerous and unscientific organ donation practises at your expense; they’ll fight to keep you from getting retroactive pension benefits; but if your cultural event’s incoming tourism dollars are in danger, you can bet instant help will be on the way!

Evangelical Lobbyists Get Top PMO Gigs

February 20th, 2009

It's beautifully unjust, isn't it?

The Prime Minister’s office has shuffled some top positions this week, and the appointments are raising some eyebrows.

Darrel Reid, the former head of Canada’s largest anti-gay lobby group, Focus on the Family Canada, has been promoted to the Prime Minister’s Deputy Chief of Staff. While working for Focus, Reid lobbied against same-sex marriage, the adding of sexual orientation to the list of minorities protected from hate crimes, and has actively promoted the harmful and discredited practise of conversion therapy for gays.  He was initially awarded a government job by Harper in 2006, and has since been promoted several times across  unrelated departments.

Reid’s old job, Director of Policy, has now been assigned to Paul Wilson, the former executive director of Trinity Western who coordinated government internships for the Christian university’s students.

Well, I’m shocked—shocked!—that Stephen Harper, of all people, would be in such tight circles with the religious right. Imagine!

Tories Adopt Gay-Hostile Policies

November 19th, 2008

Conservative Party members gathered in fabulous Winnipeg last weekend for a policy convention that steered the party to the right on many social issues.

In accordance with efforts to make the party more mysterious and whimsical, much of the convention was closed to media and non-members. Still, some topics were open to all. Of relevance to gay Canadians, this included the adoption of policies to redundantly entrench already-existing rights of churches to not perform same-sex weddings,  to limit the investigative and adjudication powers of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and to officially declare gay people as “icky.”

While I think the church debate was just a silly wink to the party’s grumpy, gay-obsessed base (it has no relevance beyond being another opportunity to take a verbal jab at gay people) the Tories ought to tread carefully on making reforms to the Human Rights Commission. The Commission, which was created to ensure employment and equal treatment with respect to lodging and services, is still very much necessary for these purposes, especially for gay people.

The policy convention concluded with Stephen Harper dimming the lights, donning a top hat and cane, and waving the Conservative Power Orb into mesmerizing, interpretive light patterns to great applause.

(Well, it was closed doors; we can make some assumptions.)

Tories Ditch Film Censorship Bill

October 10th, 2008

The federal Conservatives have withdrawn a film censorship clause from bill C-10. The clause, which would have allowed the government to withdraw tax credits to films and television shows that they deem “contrary to public policy,” was dropped amidst declining support in the polls during the election.

Evangelical lobbyist, Charles McVety, originally claimed responsibility for the clause, indicating that that any films with gay content, such as the sweet family comedy, Breakfast With Scot, would be among those ineligible for tax credits.

While I’m happy that the clause has been turfed, I wouldn’t doubt for a second that the Tories would introduce it again, or would have even turfed it if their poll support hadn’t been slipping.

They just really don’t want Slap Upside The Head: The Film to see the light of day!

Tories Cut Funding For Gay Festival

October 6th, 2008

The Conservative government has denied funding for the world’s largest charity gay dance festival, Black & Blue, for the third consecutive year. The annual Montréal festival, which contains over 60 events and raises money for HIV/AIDS research and gay community groups, used to receive up to $50,000 annually from Canadian Heritage until the Conservatives took power. Since then, their funding has been consistently denied.

Robert Vezina, president of the non-profit group that organizes the festival, said he was frustrated by the unprofessional behaviour from the government since the Conservatives took power:

Ever since the Harper government was in power, we’ve got zero. The reasons are really nebulous—they’re really sneaky. They give us answers that contradict themselves from year to year, and then verbally, they tell us on the phone we’re not “family oriented enough,” and then of course when we ask them to put this in writing they don’t.

Mauril Bélanger, the former deputy chair of Canadian Heritage, said that he wasn’t surprised by the cuts, considering the government in power:

I think we’ve seen that time and again from this government—ideology trumps objectivity, trumps respect, trumps treating all of us equally. [This is] a government that makes decisions by ideology that is basically targetting some segments of our population unfairly, and that is not the country I know.

To compensate for their lost funding, Black & Blue will reportedly alter this year’s event schedule to contain fewer all-night dance parties and more family puppet square dancing afternoons.

Gay Conservative Candidate Resigns

September 26th, 2008

Chris Reid, one of very, very few gay Conservatives, has resigned his candidacy in the riding of Toronto Centre over some pretty odd comments.

In a now defunct blog entitled Political Thoughts from a Gay Conservative, Reid said the gay community was intolerant and only capable of “promoting promiscuity, drug usage, and prostitution” and declared that Canadians had become “a castrated effeminate population” because they don’t carry concealed handguns:

[Concealed handguns are] the only proven way to reduce violent crime and murder. If women and gays really wanted to stop being victims of hate crimes, they’d be in support of this, but judging from discussions, they’d rather be helpless and rely on government.

Oh yeah, Toronto Centre would be so into this. The only proven way to reduce violent hate crimes: thousands upon thousands of handguns!

Tip o’ the hat goes to Montréal Simon for the story.

Research Shocker: Gays Don’t Vote Conservative!

September 12th, 2008

The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy has released the shocking conclusion of a 36,000-person political study: Gay people don’t vote for the Conservative party!

I’ll… give you a moment to absorb that.

The report, made from data donated by Ipsos Reid, states that only 7.3% of gay men and 10.4% of lesbians voted for the Conservatives in the last federal election, compared to 40.7% of straight men and 32.4% of straight women. More interestingly, though, the study revealed who they did did vote for. Gay men were more likely to vote Liberal, at roughly 40%, while lesbians generally voted for the NDP in the same percentage.

The Tories, who have been completely shaken by these results, have vowed to win back the gay community by purchasing more fashionable and better-fitting sweater vests for all of Harper’s future anti-gay press releases.

Conservatives Run Gay Candidat—What?

September 10th, 2008

Vancouver’s Lorne Mayencourt, a gay Liberal MLA with a strong record of supporting AIDS research and anti-bullying campaigns, is running for a seat in the federal election as a… Conservative candidate?

Yes, after vehemently opposing equal marriage rights, fighting against adding gays to protective hate crimes legislation, axing the minority protections in the court challenges program, appointing an anti-gay lobby member to an influential government job, appointing a Supreme Court Judge that had formerly called equal marriage unconstitutional, and even drafting a bill that would make it legal for public servants to discriminate against gay people, the Tories have welcomed an openly gay MLA from a provincial Liberal party.

While I don’t take this as evidence that the Conservatives are no longer hostile toward gays, I do think it would be nice to have a gay influence among the Tory seats. If it came down to it.