Canadian Politics. It's not so boring.

July 23, 2005

Same-sex Marriage Reality Check

As I'm sure everybody who hasn't been living in a cave knows, Canada's same-sex marriage legislation was passed by the Senate on Wednesday assuring the passage of the legislation. It's expected to be given Royal Assent (signed) by the Governor-General this Wednesday. Snippit from BBC News:
It was approved by 47 votes to 21, and could be signed into law as early as Wednesday.
I find it interesting that the legislation is so controversial that only half of the Senators bothered to be there for the vote. Probably didn't want to miss Leno. It's not like the vote wasn't going to pass since the Senate almost always rubber stamps what the House of Commons passes. There was that one time in 1988 that the Senate blocked legislation.

In any case, I think it's valuable to look at what the legislation means:

First, it provides for Civil Marriage with the members of it having the full rights and responsibilities of straight couples. This means that no church will be forced to perform same-sex unions contrary to the fear mongering of some Conservatives. Remember that Freedom of Conscience is also a constitutional right. Besides, there are several churches such as the United Church of Canada that are already willing to do so.

Secondly, just because someone else gets marriage doesn't make straight marriage any less important. Is a diamond not a diamond when everybody has one? Allowing gay couples to marry actually strengthens the bonds of union because more people are engaged in it.

Thirdly, there may be some immigration to Canada of gay couples, mostly from the US, who want to get married. I don't think it's going to be a lot though. My take on it is that most couples will get married here on a visit and then go back to the US forcing states to deal with it. Up until now, marriages performed in others countries have been honoured legally in the home countries. This will start to force the issue more in the US. It's interesting to note that a recent attempt to ban same-sex marriage in the US has failed:
Republicans had hoped to win at least a simple majority in favor of proceeding with the amendment but were thwarted when six of their own colleagues joined all but three Democrats in voting to scuttle the measure without a vote on its substance. Several senators had said there would have been even more "no" votes if the showdown had occurred on substance rather than procedure.
Finally, the legislation says nothing about adoption; that is decided by provincial legislation. However, one province already allows it.

July 18, 2005

Majority want Harper replaced, poll shows

Also from the Globe & Mail, another poll reveals some interesting insights:
Stephen Harper moved yesterday to revive his political fortunes in the electoral heartland of Ontario even as a new poll shows that 59 per cent of Canadians want him replaced, including more than one-third of his own supporters.
What is it about Harper that inspires some dislike? Earlier I mentioned that the problem wasn't his personality, it was his party's policies. After more though, I realized it's more a combination of both. The policies suck but his angry tone hurts things even more. Flash back to Harper's speech he and his party failed to defeat the government in a non-confidence vote:
Harper, in a carefully crafted address to the Conservative caucus after the vote, called the latter budget victory Pyrrhic, "one that will sow the seeds of its own destruction . . ."
In previous years, an opposition leader would have recognized they had lost the battle this time and taken it with grace. Not so with Harper. This is not the Conservative party of old. This is a party with absolutely no respect for parliamentary institutions, no respect for democracy and no respect for those who hold opinions contrary to their own. In short, it is Harper who has lowered the level of debate in the House of Commons.

Interesting the article also mentions:
The other major leaders -- the NDP's Jack Layton and the Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois' -- fared significantly better, with only 15 per cent saying Mr. Layton's performance had dropped and 17 per cent saying the same of Mr. Duceppe.
But it fails to mention the more impressive part which you'll see if you look at the poll numbers further down the page. And that is 1/3 of Canadians have a better opinion of Jack Layton and the NDP (the highest level) and 78% of Canadians think he should remain the leader (also the highest).

Same-sex marriage bill must stand, majority say

And the Conservatives claimed that the majority of Canadians were on their side regarding same-sex marriage. Guess what? Not anymore.
In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know.
And later in the same article, Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of polling firm the Strategic Counsel said:
... Canadians' opinion on gay marriage probably moved toward the favourable column over lengthy debate.
I have to hand it to Martin. It was brilliant to cast same-sex marriage as a rights issue and not a moral one. Although I have to admit I find it odd that the concept of equality of rights isn't itself a moral issue.

July 07, 2005

"We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism."

My sincerest condolences to the people of Britian in the wake of the multiple bombings in London this morning. I'm in absolute agreement with British Prime Minister Tony Blair who calls the terrorists who perpetrated this horrendous act, cowards.

That being said, I take issue with his declaration that terrorism will be defeated as I do with the other world leaders who have said the same thing. Terrorism cannot be defeated. It has no home state, no single sponsor, no consistent ideology. There simply is no single target, no enemy to fight. None of the leaders want to admit this, of course, but it's no less true.

But aren't leaders that say this just shooting for a high goal? I'm all for lofty goals, but not ridiculously unachievable goals. To promise to end terrorism is to give hope for a utopia that is most likely unachievable, certainly in our lifetimes. People have to live with the fact that safety is an illusion, not a given.

The best that can be hoped for it to alleviate the conditions and target the causes of terrorism - poverty, extreme religion, and unbridled aggression. The terrorists have reasons they become terrorists, and it's not just because they like to kill and it's certainly not because they resent our freedom.

Londoners have been used to bomb attacks in the past, from the IRA. Everytime there'd be an attack, Britain would crackdown on Northern Ireland. The crackdown would result in more bombings, not less. Eventually, the British realized they had to negotiate with the political arm of the IRA to find out what would stop the attacks.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that we should do this with al-Qaeda. What I am suggesting is that we be honest about why there are so many extremist groups hate Westerners. They maybe we can have an open discussion about whether our foreign policies are worth this carnage.

July 05, 2005

Which party is better at fiscal management?

Right-wingers tend to cast the NDP as big spenders - a party you can't trust to keep the federal books in balance. One could also argue that financial management begins at home. A party which can't balance its books is a cause for concern. According to the Macleans article (with data from Elections Canada), guess who's the the best manager?

In the end, the New Democrats managed to come out of the year as the only major party with a surplus. They were $3.2 million in the black.

The Liberals ended the year $1.9 million in debt, the Conservatives $1.3 million in the hole, and the Bloc $936,000 in the red.

July 01, 2005

Art of BS

One of the things that I hate in politics is those that makes up ridiculous concerns to support their view. It happens on all sides of an issue though the more extreme the view, the more silly the concern. I'd like to think this happens because of ignorance, and sometimes that may just be it. But in many cases, it's not that they're outright lying - in most cases, they simply don't care about the truth.

That's the take of retired Philosophy professor Harry G. Frankfurt in his book, On Bullshit. I haven't read it yet, but he was interviewed on Jon Stewart's fake news show, The Daily Show and the comments he made were quite on the target.

He said that lying is knowing the different between something that is true and false and choosing to tell the lie. Bullshitting is not caring what is the truth and what is false. It's worse than lying because the purveyors of it have no respect for the truth, it simply doesn't matter.

In the Northern Life article I've linked to, an outspoken critic of the new Civil Marriage bill which hast just been passed by the House of Commons says,
While the Liberals made several amendments to Bill C-38 to ensure no religious group can be forced to perform same-sex marriages, Serviss is worried about the future.

“They have given innuendo and small talk to religious freedom and to churches and clergy who choose not to perform same-sex marriages, but in essence they have provided no real protection to them,” he says.

That's an incredibly false statement. From the start, the legislation has said that churches would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages. That's why it's called the Civil Marriage Act. He doesn't say anything to support his view, just that it's not enough. Of course it's not enough. No matter what the legislation says, he'll never support it. He's a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada.

And since they've lost the battle to ban same sex marriages, why not pull up the old worn argument of how the state is restricting Christain rights. Yawn.

Read the bill for yourself as passed. It can be found here.

Section 3 says:
It is recognized that officials of religious groups are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Section 3.1 says:
For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.