Thursday, November 30, 2006

Best three out of five? Come on, three out of five.

The problem, Steve, is that we know what your promises are worth these days (emphasis added):

During the election campaign, Harper promised to hold a free vote in the Commons on whether Parliament should revisit the [same-sex marriage] issue. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he is willing to abide by a decision by the Commons to let the current law stand.

So does that mean that, if this free vote fails, Steve is prepared to let the matter drop permanently? Because, say the Tories (God help us all) win a majority in the next election. Will Steve look at that majority and think, "Hey, a majority. I'll bet it'll work this time."

Or can someone pin him down and ask him point-blank whether, if this free vote fails, he's done with it. For good and forever.

Of course, he could make a promise but, as I've already pointed out, we all know what those are worth.

SLIGHTLY CONFUSED AFTERTHOUGHTS: I'm puzzled by PMS's position that, while he's going to hold a free vote on SSM, "he is willing to abide by a decision by the Commons to let the current law stand."

I find this odd. I'm not really used to the image of the Prime Minister of Canada announcing a free vote on a topic on which he allegedly has no opinion. What is the point of holding such a free vote when you've already announced ahead of time that you're just fine with the situation the way it is? This would seem to be a particularly unproductive exercise for Canada's Parliament.

More to the point, what is Harper's position on SSM? I'm assuming all you're going to get out of him is that he promised a free vote on the subject so he's going to hold one. (You know, like he promised he wasn't going to fuck with income trusts and, sure enough, ... um, wait ... bad example. Never mind.)

So will any journalist have the cojones to ask PMS to his face how he wants SSM to be resolved? Yes, I'm sure he's going to be as uninformative as possible and just say he's allowing a vote but, theoretically, if it was entirely within Harper's power to overturn SSM, would he choose to do that? I don't think that's an unfair question.

If Harper is going to waste everyone's time re-opening this debate, I think he owes everyone at least his personal opinion on the subject.


¢rÄbG®äŠŠ said...

CC, you know that question's a bit political for Him right now. He's sorta busy tossing around the idea of the Québecois as a nation.

Havril said...

I have the cojones. Great with salsa. But my press credentials are suspect, so I don't know if I'd get access. I have curly hair - think I could pass for Mercer?

Anonymous said...

When has an actual journalist been able to talk to Peevie Stevie lately? He only talks to sycophants and I think he's finding out that Canada's media industry isn't big enough to make "sycophantic journalism" a viable niche for more than two or three people.

Anonymous said...

Personally, if Steve feels this strongly about the situation, the I think he should be footing the bill.
The rest of Canada has more important issues to worry about and more dire circumstances to which we should be directing money - the same money that this idiot is wasting on revisiting something that the majority of Canadians want put to rest - permanently. Ergo, if Steve wants to revisit, then it should be at his expense - not my hard earned dollars. If the majority of Canadians agree with the original law, then this is a vanity attempt. If I wanted to get my face lifted - for vanity reasons, I'd have to pay for it. If Steve wants to revisit legislation for vanity reasons, then he should pay for it. Nuff said for now.

Cliff said...

Stephen Harper doesn't give a crap about gay marriage. He's an authoritarian schemer who thinks he's a libertarian.

By holding the vote now he keeps a promise to the social conservatives tht make up a large chunk of his base and simultaneously weakens their power.

Losing this vote weakens their ability to make demands on him while not costing Harper their support. It's win-win if you're a paranoid Machiavellian power tripper.

Anonymous said...

Well, PMH is keeping his election promise to revisit the SSM issue. I think a proper debate is necessary, even if Parliament votes to keep the law the same, just because of all the legal procedural flummery that went in to implementing SSM in the first place. The public needs a debate showing the rationale behind changing the most fundamental institution of society. Simply saying "cuz the courts say so" is not good enough for many people.

As far as the income trust broken promise is concerned, he had to break it to save government revenues; many major companies were lining up to convert to trusts and government revenues would start sinking fast (then the burden would shift to the average taxpayer, which would really get people screaming). Yeah, he shouldn't have made the promise because he did not have the info available to be able to predict how revenues would be affected. On the other hand it does not seem to have cost him much in the polls. I think the Quebecois nation business is going to do more damage to the Conservatives in the long run; a lot of moderate conservatives are really pissed about that, believing that it leads to ethnic nationalism.

M@ said...


- Why, of all the promises he made, is SSM the one he has to keep? Tell me what you suppose the rationale for that might be.

- You want more parliamentary debate on the matter? You mean other than the public hearings while the bill was in committee? You mean disregarding the two conservative bills in the last parliament alone to "preserve the traditional definition of marriage"? You mean disregarding the two days of debates for the third reading of C-38 (June 27-28, 2005), as well as debate on April 21, May 4, and other dates?

I suggest you actually familiarize yourself with the subject before you begin spouting this kind of drivel. But you don't want familiarity, do you? You just want to do what your pastor told you to do. Well, sadly, among the intelligent and informed, that just won't fly.

Oh, and on the union trusts thing -- I guess that means Chretien gets a free pass on the GST, does it? I guess that's why the Reform/Alliance/CPC never brought it up again, years later?

Anonymous said...


The SSM promise is being kept because it can be. The income trusts promise could not be kept because it couldn't be without running a massive deficit or hiking personal taxes. I fully agree he shouldn't have made the promise (as I said) but he was in a tight political spot during the campaign so he made the promise. Now he's paying whatever price that broken promise brings, which seems small based upon the polls. As far as broken promises go, you should check out Chretien's Red Book and McGuinty's election platform and tell me how many promises the Liberal's break. I don't think McGuinty has kept one single promise, but I digress.

As far as the SSM debate goes, Paul Martin's defence of the bill on the basis of "Rights are rights are rights" made me puke. Really, was that the best he could do? It wasn't a debate, it wasn't a based upon well-reasoned argument; it was a litany of sound bites (i.e. "We're a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don't cherry-pick rights."). WTF does that mean? If everyone's a minority then who is the majority that the minorities need protection from? Could it be a majority of minorities overpowering the minority of minorities? Whatever.

What about an argument beginning with Corbiere, where the SCoC extended s15 protection to cover discrimination based upon ground other than the enumerated grounds? I don't think the public debate came within a mile of discussing the actual legal issues.

The committee meetings were a joke with witnesses opposed to SSM being ridiculed as opposed to either being left to make their case or rationally debated with.
There was no serious assessment or debate regarding opposing arguments. Could you imagine how the courts would be perceived if the triers of fact acted in such a manner?

The argument opposing SSM is based upon natural law principles regarding procreation (it takes one man and one woman to create a child, no more or less of either), identity, both individual and familial (children who are not raised by their natural parents have a strong desire to seek them out; this desire is what's behind trying to open up adoption registries, sperm bank records, etc). The question of "where did I come from?" is quite powerful.

Questions: Is a same sex environment the best environement for bringing up a child? Is it really equivalent? In a lesbian relationship, where does a male heterosexual child learn about his gender identity (not his orientation) and being a father? What are the long-term consequences for the child? There was no serious debate on these issues; the result was pre-ordained.

Given that the definition of marriage was based upon common law, an additional question was: Could Parliament enact a definition of marriage under its authority under 91.26 that would define marriage as a heterosexual union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others? The courts had ruled on the basis of the common law definition of marriage (Hyde v Hyde (1866)) but not on Parliament's authority to enact a heterosexual definition of marriage via statute, perhaps optionally along with creating a similar institution for gays and lesbians.

You said: I suggest you actually familiarize yourself with the subject before you begin spouting this kind of drivel. But you don't want familiarity, do you? You just want to do what your pastor told you to do. Well, sadly, among the intelligent and informed, that just won't fly.

I can't speak for your intelligence but your statement is pedantic, arrogant, uninformed and, most importantly, wrong. Name calling perhaps makes you feel better and certainly takes less effort.

M@ said...

I don't recall actually calling you a name. But you could help us all out and give yourself one, purely for simplicity's sake.

But to the issue. It seems you're all for breaking promises for reasons of expediency, as long as you don't break too many. So Chretien and McGuinty (neither of whom I ever supported, voted for, or care to defend) are bad because they broke a lot of promises in a lot of years. But Harper is a-okay because he only broke one promise (that you're willing to concede -- I notice you're not even discussing the many others) and that is, somehow, qualitatively different because "he had to".

Making a promise because you're "in a tight spot" in an election campaign isn't exactly evidence of integrity or good government, though somehow you're trying to twist it into being exactly that.

And you still haven't addressed the fact that the SSM bill was indeed debated in parliament, and was indeed discussed in committee and in public hearings. You're saying that it's somehow not enough because the hearings weren't good enough for some reason. But the bills were debated, weren't they? There were public hearings, weren't there? It sounds like the real problem for you is that things didn't go your way. Tell me this -- if parliament didn't vote C-38 into law, would you have the same reservations about those hearings? Or could it be that you're a bad loser?

And then, of course, there's the old canard about reading in rights that aren't specifically enumerated in the charter. Funny that, when the supreme court did exactly that in 1995 regarding citizenship, there wasn't this kind of outcry. Where were you then? Where was your criticism of the process? Where was anyone's?

Whatever you dress it up as, whatever mealy-mouthed pseudo-logic you couch it in, in the end your real problem is that guys having sex with each other makes you nervous. Well, I'm not sorry to say that your discomfort is somewhere around last on the list of my concerns when it comes to human rights.

Finally, as for my being pedantic, arrogant, uninformed and, most importantly, wrong -- a quote from Trudeau comes to mind. Worse things, better people.

CC said...

Dear "anonymous":

If you plan on continuing this discussion, I'm going to ask you to get a blogger name or handle, just so folks can keep track of the players.

Anonymous said...

It might be a little awkward for Baird and Emerson if Harper tried to whip them into voting. Especially in light of the recent and rarely talked about Nation debacle which stripped his cabinet of Michael Chong. So, now Harper is making himself seem heroic and democratic by holding a free vote. For now.