Rights and advocacy

by Aaron Wherry

A week ago, Conservative party staff and MPs put together a contribution to the “It Gets Better” video series originally inspired by Dan Savage. In short order it was duly noted that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews opposed same-sex marriage and that Senator Don Meredith once said homosexuality is a choice, while the opposition subsequently pushed for the Harper government to defend gay rights within the Commonwealth and fund Gay Pride events in Canada.

Yesterday brought two new points of conflict: news that Conservatives MP David Sweet, who appears in the video, once said homosexuality is a sin and an odd disagreement during Question Period over whether or not Peter MacKay was willing to say the word “gay” out loud.

Bob Rae. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the spokesman for the government could indicate clearly whether the Prime Minister will be telling his colleagues in Perth at the Commonwealth conference that as far as Canada is concerned, human rights include gay rights and the Prime Minister will be using precisely that language to describe the situation.

Peter MacKay. Mr. Speaker, I can certainly assure the questioner from the Liberal Party that on every occasion that the Prime Minister engages on the international scene, particularly on occasions where he is speaking with other leaders as he is doing in Perth, the issue of human rights is always there. The issue of human rights is something closely associated with our country and with our government. It is something we are very proud to put forward both internationally and here at home.

Bob Rae. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence still does not appear to be able to use the word “gay”. That is the question I am asking and that is what I am relating to. I would like … Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of National Defence regarding Sri Lanka. Apparently the Prime Minister is going to be taking a position with respect to the human rights record of the government of Sri Lanka. The government opposite has not always been consistent on this question. With respect to the situation in Sri Lanka, as the minister is being prompted by his colleague next to him, I would ask him very directly, can he tell us that it is the position of the Government of Canada that there need to be minimum standards for membership in the Commonwealth?

Peter MacKay. Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary of what the interim leader has just said, the reality is the Prime Minister has been crystal clear on the international scene. He has made statements definitively with respect to Sri Lanka and our desire to see that country reconcile the very appalling human rights record we have seen over the last number of years. That is a situation the Prime Minister will address at the Commonwealth. That is a situation on which the Prime Minister has already very firmly advanced a position.

Bob Rae. Mr. Speaker, that is twice now that the Minister of National Defence has not answered my questions directly.

A week ago, on a similar question, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was quite explicit about “the rights of gays and lesbians.” A year ago, at another meeting of the Commonwealth, Stephen Harper personally intervened to register his complaint about a proposed anti-gay law in Uganda.

Rights and advocacy

  1. Silly me…I thought that when a politician turned away from previously held odious views and came around to make a positive contribution instead, that it might be a cause to congratulate them, not dredge up skeletons from their past to question their sincerity.

    There’s just no pleasing some people, is there? Once a Conservative, always a Conservative, eh Aaron? That “Conservatives are anti-gay neanderthals” is a really tough narrative to give up, isn’t it?

    And then the media wonders why conservatives don’t make a habit of attending Pride parades.

    • Why blame Mr Wherry for reporting what is being said?

      That is the purpose of this blog after all.

    • I gotta agree with you, John. As a gay man, I’m pleased to see Conservative politicians make “it gets better” videos despite previous odious musings. Whether or not the change of heart is genuine or a cynical political stunt is merely one’s opinion. Either way, isn’t it great that being AGAINST homophobia is now the view politicians in this country want to be associated with?

      Matt

    • I see what you’re doing here John G, you’re trying to ruin a perfectly good media narrative about the mean neanderthal conservatives?

    • Making conciliatory gestures and statements is a good start, and I’m glad to see it.

      But: being unable to say “Well, my views have changed/I was wrong/youth suicide is so urgent an issue I think we should all put aside whatever else we may think about orientation” on having the inconsistencies pointed out makes it look like trying to have it both ways – against homophobia and bullying, but only so long as the homophobes can be convinced it doesn’t mean them. Being quietly pro-gay on occasion doesn’t count if constituents don’t know too.

  2. National Review ~ Are Conservatives Nuts?

    Remember the cocky, arrogant kid in nursery school, the one who always thought that he had all the answers and that he could do whatever he wanted, and was always ignoring what the teacher had to say? Chances are this bully grew up to be a conservative.

    Right now, I have no doubt that some liberal readers are nodding their heads and saying, “Yes! That makes total sense. Conservatives are such bullies!”

    Well, according to the latest “scientific” study this is nonsense. In fact, it’s the other way around.

    Here’s the lead from a story in the Toronto Star about a new study in The Journal of Research Into Personality: “Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.”

    Ever since Theodor Adorno came out with his scandalously flawed Authoritarian Personality in 1950, liberal and leftist social scientists have been trying to diagnose conservatism as a psychological defect or sickness. Adorno and his colleagues argued that conservatism was little more than a “pre-fascist” “personality type.”

    Perhaps the more revealing psychological insight can be found in the fact that so many liberals think disagreeing with them is a form of psychosis.

    • I don’t know anyone who believes conservatism is psychosis. I respect conservatism and am sympathetic to a lot of its views. Unfortunately, many conservatives are just unbearably stupid and incapable of rational thought. They are also deeply suspicious of science, reason, evidence and intellectualism. The same can be said of many liberals, but I don’t think to the same extent as conservatism.

      I’ll further clarify, Tony. I don’t think you are a conservative. You seem to be an anarchist, as far as I can tell.

  3. Now now now.  All the MPs are saying is that gay people should not be beaten to death by their classmates.  No doubt they feel “reasonable people can disagree” as to whether they should enjoy equal rights. 

    And hey, if you can stomach the cognitive dissonance to assume one isn’t necessarily connected to the other, sounds like you might be among the 35% + who voted for Harper last time out.

  4. rae is just trying to create a problem that doesn’t exist evidenced by his failed attempts to goad the government & start an argument  – many don’t use the word gay often & it is not my lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t allowed their own choices – it just doesn’t have to be in everyone’s face all the time – rae’s purpose was not so much to do with the word gay, his real aim was to use that word for the sole purpose of starting an argument to humiliate the gov’t but as we saw the gov’t did not fall for rae’s time wasting attempts to embarrass the conservatives & the gov’t responded with professional courtesy – but rae with his antics in HoC has once again proven why the liberals are in the back corner, it seems thats where liberals belong.

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