John Baird’s easiest political victory

The foreign affairs minister’s defence of gay rights was a political no-brainer


Rarely have less controversial words emerged from the mouth of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“Stephen Harper said his government would champion Canadian values,” Baird told The Globe and Mail in an interview. “Someone being put to death because they are a sexual minority is abhorrent to Canadian values.”

Not very many people, anywhere, Canadian or not, would disagree with that second sentence. Some would. Among the organized groups who think Baird shouldn’t say such things is REAL Women of Canada, a group that describes itself as socially conservative. REAL Women questioned Baird’s pro-gay advocacy in Uganda, Kenya and Russia. The press release, and its characterization of Baird as a “left-wing elitist”—a laughable assertion—found its way into most newspapers in the country. The Globe‘s interview with Baird, where he defended his government’s advocacy overseas, awarded that press release three days of summer news coverage.

Immediately, REAL Women’s critics denounced coverage of the release. The organization regularly spouts similar, bizarre views, so why provide it a platform? Baird’s groupies trumpeted his statesmanship, touting him as a future party leader. The Liberals and NDP, who can’t help but criticize the foreign affairs minister on any given day, actually sided with Baird. Everyone else, if they cared, looked on in relative disbelief. After all, even the government’s social conservative MPs, often silenced when they introduce abortion into parliamentary debate, never get so personal with their political masters. Watching a conservative group go after a federal minister was pure spectacle.

All of this wreaks of a summer news story gone wild. REAL Women had nothing to lose by lashing out. In the process, the organization may have concocted the rare story where almost everyone wins. Let’s review: a social conservative group satisfies its constituency by criticizing gay advocacy; a foreign affairs minister earns rare accolades from just about every political corner; political opposition look conciliatory as they offer support; gay rights advocates see their issue on newspapers everywhere; and then, after a few days, it’s on to whatever’s next.

Of course, not everyone wins. What will fade with these headlines is awareness of the anti-gay furor sweeping Uganda and Kenya, among other places. The Sochi Olympics, and talk of boycotts related to anti-gay laws passed in Russia, will keep that country’s fight on Canadian radar for weeks, and maybe months, to come. Everything else, everywhere else, becomes a news brief, maybe, that few will ever notice.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the unlikely tourist hotspot in Kashmir, a disputed piece of land claimed by the nuclear-capable India and Pakistan. The National Post fronts a U.S. TV station’s refusal to run a billionaire-funded anti-Keystone XL ad during a late-night slot. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the Ontario ombudsman’s investigation into police de-escalation tactics, in the wake of the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim. The Ottawa Citizen leads with RCMP allegations that Senator Mike Duffy claimed Senate expenses while he campaigned during the 2011 election. iPolitics fronts aboriginal protests of a pending Canada-China investment deal. leads with two teenagers who face child porn charges related to the Rehtaeh Parsons case. CTV News leads with warnings that Americans shouldn’t travel to Pakistan. National Newswatch showcases CBC News‘ story about the RCMP’s pursuit of Duffy’s banking and credit card records.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Floods. More than 400 residents of High River, Alta., have moved into trailers in Saddlebrook, a temporary community north of their flooded homes. The population could grow to 1,200. 2. Oilsands. Imperial Oil and Exxon combined to take over a patch of the Alberta oilsands from ConocoPhillips for $751 million—a purchase that ends a year-long stretch that saw no big deals.
3. Discipline. A Mennonite community in Manitoba where the province apprehended all children after claims of assault is being asked by social workers to only spank kids on the behind with no objects. 4. Child porn. A former soldier has been charged with 119 counts of child luring and possession of child pornography, among other charges. Matthew Richervezeau, the accused, is 23 years old.
5. Boston bombing. Two teenage friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston marathon bomber, were indicted for attempting to throw away items in Tsarnaev’s dorm room. 6. Colombia. Government crackdowns meant coca fields in Colombia only covered 48,000 hectares of the South American nation in 2012, a 25-per-cent drop over the year before.


John Baird’s easiest political victory

  1. I very much doubt REAL Women are in favour of gays being put to death, but this is the kind of nonsense that passes for “gay rights advocacy” these days. If Baird’s “political victory” was so easy, then why be so dishonest about it? I’ve never seen anything as crazy as this obsession with “gay rights,” or the sex lives of an overwhelming minority of the population.But I guess it’s the upside-down world we live in right now.

    • The obsession with the sex lives of this minority is coming from the governments of Russia & Uganda. If THEY would get over it and leave well enough alone there’d be no need to call them out on their bigotry.

      • That’s silly. All those governments are engaging in serious human rights violations, yet the world’s sexual liberals are obsessed with gays. And when you call them out on it, they engage in these hateful attacks and call you a bigot. It’s crazy.

        • It’s not an either/or situation. People can simultaneously be concerned about gay rights, religious rights, racial equality, and women’s rights. Just as small-minded bigots can simultaneously spew hatred at multiple groups.

          • It’s a matter of proportion. Gays represent an overwhelming minority of the population, and no clinical explanation exists as to why people are gay, which leaves open the very real possibility that human choices are involved. That they get grouped in with religious and racial minorities is ludicrous, yet it’s the current reality. On top of it, you get called a bigot for telling the truth on the topic. It’s an upside-down world.

          • Wait… so, you can’t discriminate against folks who can’t choose whether or not they’re part of a certain minority groups (race), but you can discriminate against folks who (so you say) choose to be part of a certain minority group (gays)?

            Also, you lump religion in with race. Religion is a choice, is it not?

          • Your wording is quite confusing. I believe religious and racial discrimination have been serious historical issues. I don’t believe homosexuality has been or is. And the hysteria over it is reflective of a culture that is losing itself.

          • OK, just so I’m clear:

            Discrimination on the basis of race: Bad.

            Discrimination on the basis of religion: Bad.

            Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: Not really that bad, and we should all just hush up about it.

          • Just about, except I’d change the last part to:

            “It’s not an issue, and we should really stop engaging in this insane witch hunt on its behalf.”

          • From where I sit, the only way you could describe Baird’s actions as a which hunt is if you thought the Ugandan and Kenya are on the right track.

          • I didn’t refer to Baird specifically, but to this crazy movement that places such an undue amount of attention on the sex lives of an overwhelming minority of people.

          • So, Uganda and Kenya are on the right track then, and we should pipe down and stop contributing to the ‘witch hunt.’ By defending those gays, we’ll just end up making more of them, right?

          • The gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community is a larger demographic than you think. And besides, regardless of how large the community is, its still a civil rights issue. I have no doubt that in 50 years, people will look back at homosexual persecution in the early 21st century with the same disdain as we do now in the year 2013 for 1960s Jim Crow laws.

          • It’s about two-percent of the population, but I’ll concede it will get larger as a result of having governments endorse it. I mean, that’s the point, right? And you’re just proving my point. Comparing the plight of a small amount of gays and sex-changers to blacks in the South in the 60’s is totally absurd. I can’t believe any right-thinking person would think there’s a genuine comparison there. In fact, I think people will look back at this era as the continuing decadence and absurdity of a collapsing Western culture.

          • Do you at least concede that it is usually minority groups that are oppressed and not majorities? And what is the relationship between how large a particular group is and whether we should offer them some moral support?

          • I will not concede that gays/lesbians/bisexuals/transgendered/whatever should be viewed as a minority group in need of special protection. If you want to give them moral support, fine, but why force me to do it by changing the laws under which I live by, and then turning around and engaging in a witch hunt by hatefully accusing anyone who disagrees with you as a “bigot.” Maybe not you personally, but many people who support your agenda.

          • Not being criminalized for your sexual orientation doesn’t require any “special protection”.

          • I would agree with that, which is why I don’t think special gay rights are necessary. Homosexuality was decriminalized in the West long before these special rights came along, as was adultery and other behaviours.

          • Which “special gay rights” are you referring to?

          • So, talking about the persecution of gay people turns straight people into gay people? Or is it more that not speaking about their persecution reduces the number of gay people? Actually, the second case sounds more likely, now that I’ve typed it out. The proportion of gay people isn’t increasing, they’re just staying alive longer. I know of a fellow who had a solution for a similar “problem” in Europe some years ago.

          • The first part of your post is nonsensical, which must be a reflection of your agenda. The second part, where you’re comparing opponents of the gay agenda to Hitler, is completely idiotic, and also much be a reflection of your agenda. Thanks for showing up.

          • Explain to me, please, how refusing to persecute gay people results in more gay people existing. I will wait while you construct an answer that makes you appear non-bigoted.

          • I respectfully disagree. We look back now in history to the internment of the Japanese Canadians during WWII as a travesty. 20,000 Japanese Canadians were interned, in a country of 11 million people. The number of people interned was well below even half a percent point. Same thing applies to the Chinese Head Tax. When that tax was in place, it affected maybe 1% of Canada’s population. But society today looks back at this persecution as unacceptable. And you still think society will not look back disapprovingly with the regards to the persecution of a demographic that equals well above 2 percent? Live another 50 years and we will see.

          • We are all people, and thankfully in our Western countries, we have to right to believe, speak and act how we feel. Gay people make me uncomfortable, but I would never ever want to see them discriminated against. Love is love, and I appreciate its expression in all forms. Russia has passed a law that makes any expression of love between same sexes illegal. What’s worse is they have extended this law to include tourists. I am a straight white female, but won’t travel to Russian for fear of arrest if I hug another female. Russians are beating and killing gay people. No matter your stance on gay rights, as a North American I know you don’t want to see anyone killed, especially by beatings. In general John Baird is an idiot, but in this he is right. Persecuting a minority group is how Hitler started. We need to take the lessons from history and apply them to this situation.

      • The obsession with the sex lives of this minority is coming from the governments of Russia & Uganda.

        No, that’s exactly backwards. Don’t perpetuate the myth that people defending traditional values are somehow the aggressors in this culture war.

        • What traditional values does Mr. Putin stand for?

    • I very much doubt REAL Women are in favour of gays being put to death.

      Maybe not, but coming out forcefully against a Minister for criticizing homosexuals being put to death is almost as bad, imho. What was the most uncomfortable to me was how they singled out Baird, as though he’d somehow gone rogue, and was pursuing some personal agenda. Several lines felt to me as though the authors really just wanted to come out and call Baird a f@ggot.

      Of course, I also didn’t like the implication that we should accept the notion that in Uganada this is somehow not a human rights issue because of Uganda’s culture. Again, that read to me as saying that we should just accept that in Uganda this isn’t a human rights issue, because the government there doesn’t see homosexuals as being human.

      • If your agenda is so worthy, why do you need to engage in these deceptive tactics? Can you specifically point to where REAL Women endorsed the killing of homosexuals?

        • As I said, they didn’t endorse it, but they did sharply criticize the Minister for condemning it.

          • Can you point to where they specifically criticized Baird for condemning the killing of homosexuals?

          • [Baird] insulted the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, at a meeting of the International Parliamentary Union in Quebec City when he criticized Uganda for its position on homosexuality.”

            Mr. Baird’s actions are highly offensive to conservative taxpayers. He cannot and must not undermine other countries’ sovereignty and dignity, rooted in stable family structures and religious faith, in order to impose his own value system on them.

            Did they explicitly say “Killing homosexuals for their sexuality is fine, why is our government criticizing it”? Of course not. However, they clearly see Baird’s criticisms as an offence against the sovereignty and dignity of Uganda, and think that Canadian officials should keep mum rather than risk imposing our values of not killing people for their sexuality outside of our borders.

          • I find it interesting that both you and the author of this article continue to refer to statements made by REAL women without providing a link to those statements. Why?

          • I’m lazy, and figure people can Google the quotes.

            That said, Here’s the link for those quotes. They’re taken directly from the news release that the story is about.

          • I still don’t see any criticism of Baird for condemning the killing of homosexuals. The author of this article made it up, and you seem to be in support.

          • Baird criticized Uganda for their laws, which include the death penalty for homosexuals, a part of their laws that he criticized most strongly. REAL Women Canada said he should keep his mouth shut and stop insulting the Ugandans by pushing his own personal agenda.

            Do you really need them to explicitly say “We don’t think Uganda should be criticized for killing gay people” for you to see that in the case of Uganda this is the essence of their position?

            That said, Landolt was explicitly asked about the death penalty for being gay in Uganda. Her response was “It may be unwise by Western standards, but who are we to interfere in a sovereign country?”. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t view the execution of gay people for being gay as a practice that is “unwise”, I view it as a practice that is IMMORAL; and, credit where credit is due, I’m glad that the Harper government is on the same side of that divide as me, and are sticking to their guns.

            Regardless, despite all my comments, I do think this group is best just ignored. They represent a minority of a minority of a minority, and almost no one in Canada is on their side on this as far as I can tell.

            When Barbara Kay of all people thinks you’ve gone to far, you likely can’t even SEE “too far” in your rear view mirror anymore.

          • Well, I still think it’s a stretch to say that REAL Women is criticizing Baird for condemning the killing of homosexuals. Furthermore, from the information you’ve provided, Uganda is now only contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality. Nevertheless, I do not agree with Landolt that Ugandans should be allowed to hide behind sovereignty to justify such an odious policy. At the same time, gays don’t need special rights. They just need the same rights as others, which should include protection from death penalty for one’s sex life. For example, homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West, and special gay rights were not needed.

          • At the same time, gays don’t need special rights. They just need the same rights as others, which shouldn’t include protection from death penalty for one’s sex life.

            I presume that you meant SHOULD include. One doesn’t need to give homosexuals “special rights” to keep them from being executed for their sex lives, the problem is that they’re being specifically targeted for possible execution for their sex lives.

            I don’t believe that Baird was arguing that special laws should be made in these countries to support homosexuals, he was saying that special laws shouldn’t be made to TARGET gay people. He’s not arguing that Uganda or Russia should provide their gay citizens with marriage equality, he’s just saying that they shouldn’t execute people for being gay, or throw them in jail for kissing their significant other in public.

          • Yes, I changed it before your reply. I suspect Uganda has special laws targeting a lot of people, but it’s only a tiny gay population that gets the consideration of the decadent West.

          • I feel pretty confident that if Uganda wanted to execute people for some other ridiculous reason Baird would criticize that too.

          • I doubt it. It’s only the gays that get talked about.

      • Nice to see you celebrating a murderer like Kitchener.

  2. REAL Women serve another purpose for the right – due to their extremism, craziness and stupidity, they have a track record of almost complete failure in the court cases they have been involved in. This has allowed certain “academics” on the right to claim that the courts are biased towards “the left”, especially by noting that LEAF (an actual women’s advocy group that tends to be more moderate and craft legal arguments which are not bizarre and stupid) has been much more successful.

  3. I agree completely that this bigot group shouldn’t have been given a platform.

    • So, just when do you start sending your jackbooted P.C. police for the clouds of the night roundup and disposal inside the PC gulag?

      • Have another cocktail

  4. It takes a lot … a lot !! .. to turn John Baird into a
    sympathetic character. Congratulations.

    • I can’t help but feel supportive of anyone who is called a liberal elitist by the likes of Real Women. And I see Jason Kenney has now weighed in, in support of Baird and in condeming what he calls RW’s ‘moral relativism’. Given his leadership ambitions, I am sure he had to give this some thought.

  5. One of the most basic rights in a society is totally ignored ,that of property. So when those rights are upheld and become sacred then maybe I will pay attention to all other flavour of the day so called rights.

  6. It looks like those Real Women need some real sex….they seem to have too much free time in their hands

  7. Crackers being crackers is all… they needed the publicity.

    Also someone should take them aside and explain about John and Jason and Rob and………

    • By crackers are you dispariging white people? Do you think that this arguement is only white people based? Do no other races have gay people? This discussion is very important. In North America we are lucky enough to have equality among races, creeds and sexual orientations. Countries that persecure people for being gay, like Uganda and Russia are despicable. If you think this a ‘cracker’ issue, then I would like you to consider what it would be like for you in a world where black people were considered just above animals.

      • I was referring to the group calling itself REAL women.

  8. REAL women are a minority interest group that believe the bible is correct and homosexuality is a sin. While in general, I think John Baird is an idiot, I am glad he is taking a stand against these nonsense assumptions. I truly hope that he acts as a Canadian and boycotts the Sochi olympics. I know how hard our athletes have trained
    and how much they want to compete on the worlds stage. However, we need to speak against the presecution of gays in Russia. They are being jailed, beaten and even killed with impunity. I for one would be very disappointed if Wastern countries decided to attend.

  9. Am I going to have to side with Baird here? I think I’m going to be sick.

    OK. Baird is right.