OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Stephen Harper
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.
- Despite legal about-face, Harper has ‘no intention’ of reopening gay marriage [Globe and Mail]
- Ottawa moves to defuse same-sex controversy [Globe and Mail]
- All same-sex marriages declared legal and valid by justice minister Rob Nicholson [National Post]
- Conservatives to change civil marriage law [CBC News]
Canadian Internet sensation and all around sweetheart, Maria Aragon, was paid a visit by Stephen Harper last week to help kick start his election campaign for the Conservative party.
Surrounded by the media, the 10 year old sat beside the Prime Minister and performed Lady Gaga’s “Born this way,” the song that made her a viral hit online after it caught the attention of Gaga herself. Even with the added pressure of performing before reporters and cameras, Maria played magnificently. I particularly like the confidence with which she sung this verse:
No matter gay, straight or bi
lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive
Such a nice affirmation that GLBT people, despite facing discrimination simply for how they were born, have worth and value.
It reminds me of something Stephen Harper once said in the House of Commons:
Sexual orientation or, more accurately, what we are really talking about here, sexual behaviour [...] was not included in the Charter of Rights when it was passed by parliament in 1982. It was not included, not because of some kind of accident or oversight, but deliberately and explicitly.
Wait, sorry—what I meant to say was that it reminds me of the opposite of something Stephen Harper said in the House of Commons. How silly of me.
You see, from listening to what Harper has had to say about GLBT Canadians over the years, I’d say that he doesn’t think gay people are “born this way” at all—and his actions are even worse than his words. In late 2006, for example, Harper attempted to revoke the rights of same-sex couples to marry equally in Canada. And in February of this year, he voted against a bill that would have protected transgendered Canadians from discrimination in employment, housing, and public services.
But, yet, here he is—sitting beside Maria and smiling at the cameras while she so wonderfully affirms the inherent worth of GLBT citizens. Yes, clearly, the adorable Maria has changed Harper’s mind.
A quick tap, followed by a booming sound and some metallic, resonating clatter!
Uh, that was supposed to be a rim-shot. They don’t come across very well in writing, do they?
(A very special hat tip to Montreal Simon for the story)
Canada’s historic trans rights bill, C-389, passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by NDP MP Bill Siksay, explicitly adds gender identity to the list of identifiable groups protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and services in the Canadian Human Rights Act. While that’s excellent news, what’s not so excellent was the bill’s narrow vote margin: 143 to 135 against.
So, which party had the most Nay votes, I ask uselessly?
Why, it’s the Conservatives. In fact, only six Tory MPs present on Wednesday voted in favour of the bill, with the rest voting against it (either explicitly or through pairing). The Nay votes included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who until Wednesday hadn’t previously voted on the bill.
I guess that means we shouldn’t be holding our breath for his It Gets Better video.
The bill now moves on to the Conservative-controlled senate, where it’s future is a tad uncertain. Nonetheless, trans Canadians have a reason to celebrate this week. Enjoy the victory; finally the missing T is well on its way to be added to the existing equal rights protections for GLB Canadians!
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!
- L’absence des conservateurs au Défilé de la Fierté est décriée [Métro Montréal]
- Montreal fetes Gay Pride [CBC News]
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!)
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!
Well, there was only so much I could prepare in advance while I’m out travelling this week, so in the meantime…
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.
Today is a holiday here in Canada. So, in lieu of my usual post, I present my exclusive interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper or a reasonable facsimile:
Stephen, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.
I am Harper.
Now, you’ve been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and made a promise to re-visit the issue on the first day of campaigning for the 2006 election. Why, after eight consecutive court rulings affirming same-sex marriage, a federal law, and years of parliamentary debate, did you feel this was necessary?
The first time I stared blankly into my wife’s eyes and shook her hand in marriage, I knew traditions were traditional. Let me just say this: Canada’s New Government™.
The Court Challenges Program was an inexpensive way for the government to ensure its citizens could challenge unconstitutional laws. This program was cut last autumn. In light of the Language Commissoner’s findings that this cut violated the Officials Languages Act, will the Conservative government re-instate the program?
Scoff. I hardly think it’s the government’s job to protect its citizens’ rights.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Céline Dion is not a leader.
Thanks so much for your time, Stephen. Bonne journée!
Well, Stephen Harper has officially announced that he considers the same-sex marriage issue settled. Well, finally! But, gee, I wonder what the anti-gay lobby is up to today? Let’s go check.
It’s the Anti-Gay Lobby Press Release Roundup!
Hey, is that Gwen and the REAL Women of Canada over there? I hear they’re doing quite well after they successfully lobbied to scrap the court challenges program. Let’s take a peek at what they’re releasing to the press, shall we?
Elitist political leaders apparently believe that Canada is still in the twentieth century, where political parties ignored the opinion of the voting public. Arrogant political leaders do not, in fact, know what’s best for everyone.
Ah, yes—yes, if anyone should be deciding what’s best for everyone, it should not be political leaders. Special interest group leaders know much better! And, although polls indicate that a whopping 76% of Canadians did not want same-sex marriage re-opened, that’s totally not representative of the voting public! I mean, what about all those embittered old folks? Weren’t they the only ones that voted?
Ah, but why don’t we take a peek at what Charles and his wacky Canadian Family Action Coalition are doing?
The people of Canada are not going to let this go, because marriage is too important an institution to just let it evaporate because of the emotions of a few people in Parliament
Interesting stuff! I didn’t know that “a few people in parliament” corresponds to a wide-margined majority of exactly 175, but I guess I kinda see what he’s saying. That 175 wide-margined majority was totally just uninformed emotion.
Hey, do you think these two groups have issued a joint press release? That would be, like, a dream come true!
Since the Canadian public has been denied a voice on the issue of same-sex marriage, a very persuasive argument can be made for a referendum on the same-sex marriage issue. [...] The time for a referendum has now arrived.
Wow; a referendum! Those are hard enough to get when the prime minister actually wants one. You guys just don’t give up! Well, good for you! Keep reaching for that star. You know, the one that fizzled out way back 1916, but the light is just reaching you now. It’s a pointless exercise, for sure, but keep at it! You’ll at least keep your shoulder joints active.
Justice Minister Vic Toews has confirmed that Stephen Harper will keep his promise and vote on whether or not to revisit same-sex marriage before parliament ends this Winter. The vote is expected to fail spectacularly, so right-wing special interest groups have been pressuring the government to delay the vote as long as possible.
As for me—it’ll sure be nice to finally get this nonsense over with. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s a little like getting through poplar fluff season… Not terrifically threatening, but not too pleasant either.
- MPs to revisit gay marriage [Toronto Star]
- Pro gay marriage group demands PM hold vote on issue [CBC News]
Justice Minister Vic Toews confirmed in an interview this week that the government is planning to introduce the “Defence of Religions Act.” The new act would permit a civil marriage commissioner or a justice of the peace to refuse their public services to gays without consequence.
Oddly, as soon as the popular media picked up on the story, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pooh-poohed the notion, saying that the government is “determined to protect the rights of gay and lesbian citizens.”
Uh… Determined, eh? That, coming from a government that is committed to re-voting on same-sex marriage. A government that happily kneeled to pressure from the anti-gay lobby to delay the vote past its promised timeline. A government that recently appointed a new ontario judge who represented anti-gay groups in a bid to declare same-sex marriage unconstitutional. A government that completely axed its most important (and gay-friendly) equality program despite a massive budget surplus. A government that just appointed the president of Canada’s most hysterical anti-gay lobby group as their newest Chief of Staff. Gee, that sounds pretty determined there, Stevey.
But, don’t worry, folks! Harper says he’s not scary! Although, come to think of it, I don’t recall him saying the same about the rest of his party…
- Tories plan to protect same-sex marriage opponents [Globe and Mail]
- PM denies plan to bolster rights of gay marriage opponents [Canada.com]
Remember when Stevey promised to hold a free vote on same-sex marriage this autumn? Well, according to the anti-gay lobby, the vote’s been moved to winter! (I guess the summer break wasn’t long enough for them to convince our MPs that society has been thrust into a chaotic land of terror!)
So, what is the anti-gay lobby doing with all this new time? Well, the
Canada Anti-Gay Coalition, err… is forming a last-minute “national marriage caucus.” The press release was a little cryptic, but from what I can gather, the caucus’ first task is to build a fortified protective wall around every family. Or, at least, every family without gay members. So, for all those into cement stocks, BUY!
- Activists say Ottawa will delay vote to reopen same-sex marriage [Globe and Mail]
So what does a right-wing government do when 8 provincial courts independently rule that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional? Why, it appoints new judges, of course! And that’s exactly what our prime minister did this week. And, surprisingly, it’s not the appointment of a former president of the Conservative party into the Quebec high court that’s drawing the most criticism—it’s the new Ontario Judge.
Joe Brown, who will now officially sit in the Ontario Superior Court, is well known for representing the radical right-wing lobby groups Focus on the Family Canada and REAL Women of Canada in a court challenge to declare same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The case was a spectacular failure. (After all, declaring equality unconstitutional is kind of like declaring Stephen Harper a charismatic joy.) But selecting someone who represented such an eyebrow-raising, destined-to-lose case doesn’t exactly reflect an unbiased nature.
When contacted by the press, Judge Brown refused to talk:
In my past incarnation, I would speak to you. In my present incarnation, you would have to speak to Chief Justice Heather Smith.
Hey, does that mean he’s been recently reincarnated? If so, that’s pretty encouraging! But maybe we should still keep our eyes on this one.
- PM’s pick for bench draws fire [Globe and Mail]
Ah, mid-September. That time of year when all of our gleeful politicians return to that magical parliament building in Ottawa and discuss matters at the forefront of the Canadian consciousness. Now, what issue do you suppose will be one of the earliest priorities this autumn?
(OK, I’ll admit it; that’s totally a rhetorical lead-in.)
That’s right kids, our brand new prime minister, Stephen Bus—err, Stephen Harper, resumed work this week and promised to act swiftly on his campaign promise to revoke same-sex marriage!
Now, naturally, the vote to re-open the “big debate” is expected to fail spectacularly, but don’t let that thought make you too comfortable with your full equality! Justice Minister Vic Toews has announced that, failing a ban on gay nuptials, the government will also introduce some shiny new legislation to “enhance protections for those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds!”
Hmm… You know, that sounds a little familiar… Almost like a defeated Alberta bill that would have removed all punishment for those who wished to refuse public services to gays on grounds of “moral objections.” You know, the one that also almost forced teachers to send out parental warnings before even acknowledge the existence of same-sex marriage in Canada. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain that was the same language used to describe it.
Anyway, whatever becomes of this idea, it looks like it’s going to be a fun-filled autumn of family-protecting (i.e. alarmingly hateful) goodness ahead!
Well, back to work! I haven’t quite yet filled my quota of destroyed families today. The gay agenda requires at least 15.
- Same-sex motion eyed [Calgary SUN]
- Commons resumes to fall agenda littered with pitfalls [Canadian Press]
The International AIDS Conference—the bi-annual event said to bring nearly 27,000 researchers, patients, journalists, and activists to the fine city of Toronto—kicked off yesterday with an evening of, well, really exciting stuff!
Celebrities, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Bill Clinton, Richard Gere, and Alicia Keys were in attendance. Even former prime minister Paul Martin said he’d be there to make a speech (before the conservatives triggered a snap election), as previous PMs have done (Yes, even Brian Mulroney). In fact, it seems like everyone who’s anyone was there to help put a stop to one of the world’s largest pandemics. Everyone except… Gee, who’s that guy again?
Ah, yes; silly me: Prime Minister Stephen Harper was notably absent, instead touring an arctic military base to “defend arctic sovereignty.”
Organisers and attendants of the AIDS conference are baffled, including Stephen Lewis, UN director for AIDS/HIV in Africa:
It’s a dreadful mistake in political judgment, and it’s not excusable. It’s a lost opportunity to tell the world how Canada feels about this pandemic. The Arctic sovereignty issue will still be there [when the conference ends]. Forty million people worldwide carry this virus, and most will die preventable deaths. What greater scourge is there than that?
I’ve asked time and again why he isn’t coming, and the answer I keep getting is that he doesn’t want to be booed.
Well, booing certainly seems to be a big problem for our prime minister and his MPs. But, hey, if he keeps this up—and with a little luck after the next election—maybe that won’t be a problem for him anymore.
- As AIDS activists, scientists, gather in Toronto, organisers ask: Where’s Harper? [Canada.com]
- Harper chooses Arctic over AIDS [Toronto Star]
Horror fans rejoice? Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper is raising the dead! Well, kinda.
Harper announced that he’ll re-open the “marriage debate” this autumn in an attempt to stop gay people from marrying their partners. This, even though the issue is widely considered dead. Deader than a dead deadbolt. A dead deadbolt that died a deadly death.
As Liberal MP Keith Martin put it:
This issue is dead. It’s over. The provinces, the courts and Parliament have decided the same-sex marriage is the law of the land.
A good observation. But what do our wacky Conservative MPs have to say?
Well, despite receiving Stevey’s official “Let’s do it!”, some tories are actually using common sense, openly pondering why it’s necessary to revisit the, well, causeless issue. Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn even described it as being more divisive than the mission to Afghanistan.
At this stage, we’ve debated it pretty thoroughly. Once you’ve reached the optimum, nobody is really happy, but if it’s the best that you can do, then it’s probably best to just leave it alone.
Obviously, I’m pretty happy with the optimum (you know, full equality). But if anyone else is still unhappy, it’s best to keep in mind what the old zombie horror movies have taught us: When anything dead starts to come back to life, shoot it before it eats your brain. And this issue is quite thoroughly dead.
Well, I’m out of town for today, folks! But, never fear! I’ve prepared a special out-of-town update to let you know how some of those crazy anti-gay characters I’ve been telling you about are getting along!
Super crazy prime minister extrodinare, Stephen Harper, sent out a notice to his caucus last week, informing MPs that they are not to comment on the two gay mounties that are marrying this month. While Conservative MPs had no comment (duh), Liberal MP Scott Brison put it best: “If [Stephen Harper] doesn’t trust his caucus to be socially progressive, then why should Canadians trust his party to be socially progressive?” Sing it, bro!
The former principal found to have violated human rights codes for assuming a gay teacher was molesting students has been reassigned by the Halifax Regional School Board. And what, you may ask, is the job he’s being forced to give up? Why, director of human rights policies, of course! A job that he held for over a year even though the human rights violation occurred 6 years ago! Compounded with the bizarre survey asking gay teachers to identify themselves, the board doesn’t seem to be particularly big on diversity…
And that, my scrumptious little readers, is the out-of-town update!
Newly elected prime minister Stephen Harper (or little Bush—that adorable tyke), has vowed to introduce legislation revoking same-sex marriage in Canada. Although this bill would be unconstitutional and only 30% of Canadians polled said they want it to happen, he’s still trying his best. He’s such a little trooper!
Of course, the anti-gay crazies are positively salivating at the opportunity to get all “holier than thou” on our collective ass again. Gwen Landolt of the right-wing Christian lobby group, REAL Women of Canada, was busy pretending that society had been thrust into chaos since the equal marriage law. Chaos!
What about the question of clergy? What are their rights? And what are the rights of children?
Gee, those are, uh, good questions, Gwen. Just let me fiddle with the dials on my super go backwards in time machine where you can get them all settled… again.
- Gay marriage vote coming, Haper says [Globe and Mail]