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Jay Currie

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3/20/2005

Whatever you do don't push the Red Button

Speaking to more than 2,000 delegates at the party's founding policy convention last night, Harper at long last drove a stake through several of the social policy demons that have haunted the Conservatives since their birth in a historic merger 14 months ago.

On same-sex marriage: Harper pledged a Conservative government would introduce legislation maintaining the traditional definition of marriage, while providing "the same rights, benefits and obligations to all couples."

On abortion: "As prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue."

On free votes in Parliament: "I will always allow all MPs to vote freely on matters of conscience."

On missile defence: "On our common interests with the United States ... including on missile defence ... our Conservative government will take Canada back to the table."
Greg Weston
SSM fail...there is no possible way of bringing this legislation into force without overturning the rulings of the seven provincial Courts which have ruled SSM a right. Or, at least there is not without invoking the "notwithstanding clause. Which harper has said he will not do. Politically this will hurt the CPC in Quebec and in urban Canada - it may help in some ethnic groups; but whether they will offset the losses among the young and the urban is doubtful.

Abortion: pass. But at the risk of having the Ayataolah of Calgary issuing a fatwa and losing the passionate support of the socons. (all of which I think would be a good thing but electorally rather difficult.)

Free Votes: we'll see. The test will be whether Belinda Stonach and, as Sean puts it, her Main Muffin, Peter MacKay vote with the government on SSM.

Missile Defence: A+. Politically this is not going to hurt the CPC much because the young and the urban and the French, who are thought to oppose BMD, will have already decided not to vote for the CPC on SSM grounds. But it encourages the significant fraction, dare I say majority, of Canadians who are not Bush deranged and who want to work with the Americans.

Kudos to the CPC for the absence of blood on the convention floor. In itself that may be the most significant news out of the convention.