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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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3/21/2005

Politics and Pandering

As the comments in the post below suggest, simply saying that the CPC's position on SSM is enough to ensure they will not be getting my vote next election is just a teeny bit controversial. (And calling people who would "protect" hetrosexual marriage by denying equality before the law to homosexuals bigots, while accurate, is none too popular.)

To pour a bit of gas on the fire I can't resist pointing out it is really goofy politics as well.

The reality is that socons have nowhere to go with their votes. If the CPC had taken a stand for equal rights before the law the socons might have seethed; but would they have voted Liberal? Hardly.

The people the CPC lost were people who have options. They can vote Liberal, they can stay home. The difference is that those people are more likely to be found in th ridings the CPC desperately needs to win to form the next government. Racking up 10,000 seat pluralities in Prarie ridings is, no doubt, good for the soul; but it does nothing to shift power in Canada.

By coming out against equality, and that is how David Herle is going to spin it, the CPC is saying to millions of potential CPC voters, "We really are scary. We really are willing to turn the Charter on its head in order to protect a rather tattered symbol. We really are prepared to treat some Canadians as second class citizens so that the "first class" citizens can feel their institution of marriage is safe."

Anyone who believes, as I do, that one of the few protections for individual rights in Canada is equality before the law will find it impossible to vote for a Party incapable of supporting that equality. It really is that important.

Which is especially dumb of the CPC given that there is next to no chance that any CPC legislation rolling back gay marriage will survive the scruitiny of the Courts. In fact, it is constitutionally doubtful that the feds have the power to change the rules in provincial marriage registries.

Which means the CPC has lost a significant number of votes in key ridings in a cause which is almost certainly doomed.

Why? I am inclined to think because the leadership of the CPC lacked the backbone to fight hard on the equality issue. Possibly because they don't actually understand it, possibily because they are still squeamish about the Charter and the Courts, possibly because they simply had to throw the socons a bone, or maybe their Canada does not include gays...who knows?

Regardless of the reason, the trashing of the idea of equality before the law lost them my vote. I suspect it will lose them many others.

Paul Martin doesn't deserve it, but the CPC has pretty much handed him the next election Gomery or not.

Update: A number of critics have suggested that getting the government out of the marriage game entirely would be a good idea. I was posting to this effect as early as 2003. If you're that interested you can read posts here, here (where I quote Michael Kinsley's original Slate article on SSM), here (in which I suggest that the CPC's energies would be better spent on a family friendly tax and benefits strategy), here (on the SCC Reference), here , here (a lengthy response to Kathy Shaidle complete with the suggestion that the Bishop of Calgary is issuing fatwas) and here ( in which, inter alia I discuss the fact the Divorce Act has revised "traditional" marriage rather radically...And that is just the first page of a Google search of my blog for "government, marriage".