Monday, January 24, 2005

The Upper Canadian meet reality, reality meet the Upper Canadian

Michael of the Upper Canadian is making predictions about Stephen Harper's suposed political suicide over same sex marriage. Given the title of this post, you get the gist of my opinion. I tend to see this analysis as nothing more than Liberal wishful thinking.

Michael, in case you haven't noticed by now there is substantial anger towards the Liberal party's latest attempt at social engineering. Their cronies in the Supreme Court failed to give them the legal cover they demanded. Thus poor Irwine Cotler is left saying "the court", suposedly the "Supreme Court" made me do it. Factually, this is simply untrue the Supreme Court stated that the government could go forward with legislation on the matter not that they had too.

A number of lower cases decided to directly ignore the precident in Elgin, and wander off into the realm of legal fantasy and ignore such concepts as stare decisis and struck down the governments marriage laws.

Stephen Harper has proposed that legislation be introduced which grants the benifets that gay couples have been deprived of, simmilair to the Interdependent Adult Act in Alberta, allowing them pensions, tax credits ect as "civil unions" or whatever word they choose to go with. Harper has stood firm that marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

According to Michael, choosing to stand with thousands of years of established history and the teachings of every major religion is "bigotry". Quite frankly I should think that choosing to ignore it and deciding that you in your limited capacity as an individual "know better" is "extremism" and "extremely arrogant".

Returning to the matter of the notwithstanding clause, the need to invoke it is not some legal certainty. The process to be followed would be this, the current legislation would be amended so as to included the position Harper has lined out. It would come into force and effect as law all across Canada.

Thereafter it could be challenged in court. However, given that the actually "harm" being suffered by gay couples given the status of civil unions would be pretty much non-existant from their prior complaints. They've recieved the tax credits and pension benifets and so on, now all they can argue is that they want "the social acceptence of the word".

This sort of vague and unquantifable harm is far more difficult to gain a judgement for and they'd have to argue the whole thing over agree from Queen's Bench on upwards to the Court of Appeals and then likely to the Supreme Court. Given that government legislation would have specifically stated that marriage is between a man and a woman and made provision for the grievances that were forming the basis of their prior complaints the results would be entirely prejudiced against the sucess of the gay lobby. That's how the legal system works.

Only, if they were sucessful in finding that new legislation that had undercut the basis of prior rulings in their favour at the highest courts in the land would their be a need to invoke the notwithstanding clause. Apparantly the Liberals Party took its donations from various client charities, municipalities, zoos and big business and used to purchase a crystal ball, through which it becomes aware of court rulings which would occur years into the future.

The process described above happens to be how things work in reality rather than the fantasy land Irawin Cotler, Paul Martin and Michael happen to be living in.

Michael, being a Liberal, chooses to add a few more blatant lies to his attempt at prognostication.

Add into the mix the indebtedness of the Conservative Party, its veneer of unity.

Firstly the party isn't in debt. In fact the Conservative Party is in the best fiscal shape of any party of the country. This was in the papers in November Michael, and discussed in the blogsphere as well.

Secondly, a thin veneer of unity? Yes the conservative party is having unity problems while Liberal Party is busy engaging in fratricide between Chretien and Martin camps, not to mention warring between its left and right wings over gay marriage and the lack of freedoms being afforded ministers.

An issue which all Conservative Mps except 2, and the vast majority of conversative supports support is going to tear the party appart?

Michael seems to labour under the illusion that all Paul Martin needs to do is say "Charter" and the whole country is going to swoon and change its mind over same sex marriage. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and the country remains extremely divided on the issue. With a majority of the population favouring the Conservative Party's stance on the issue. As I mentioned above, the nothwithstanding clause isn't an inevitable conclusion to the matter.

The Liberal Party is well aware that they are on the wrong side of this debate and are alienating their own supporters. Martin has been attacked by not only the Conservative Party, but foreign leaders, and a growing list of religious leaders. Now there is the Conservative Party's direct appeal to ethnic and religious groups on the issue of same sex marriage. Why? Because Harper smells blood, not because he's tilting at windmills.

What Michael doesn't seem to realize is that - Harper is against same sex marriage, his caucus is against same sex marriage, his party is against same sex marriage and the public is against same sex marriage. Anyway you look at it, that does not precipitate a unity crisis. In fact its what one might call a "winning combination."

The notion that somehow polygamy is a ridiculous topic to be brought into the debate about same sex marriage and some sort of "right wing conspiracy theory" and the product of the minds of "yahoos" is absolute bunk. Polygamy is what one calls the law of unintended circumstances, once you open the flood gates there is no telling what can come out. Is it irrational to say that if the defination of marriage can be changed from a man and a woman, to two people, that there is no longer any particular barrier to the idea of two or more? No not at all, once you demolish the accepted understanding of things its difficult to draw a new line in the sand.

Furthermore, you can make a far better prima facie case for polygamy than you can for same sex marriage, as polygamy has a firm foundation both in history, religion and practice throughout the world. You could argue not only a violation of your sexual orientation - that's right your orientation towards only one partner is a preference, as well as freedom of religion. And by the way Michael freedom of religion is one of the guarantees actually written into the Charter, unlike sexual orientation.

Michael then goes on to suggest that Harper should have forced his own party to vote in favour of the legislation to developed "a new, modern Conservative party" which was "viable and electable". This notion is so rediculous that it hardly warrants comment and only the joy of ridiculing the statement compells me to respond.

Michael's "new, modern Conservative party" seems to sound exactly like the "old, corrupt Liberal party". Which begs the question what would the point be of having two parties which agreed on everything? He seems to completely over look the fact that a large segment of the population agrees with both him and the Liberal party and deserves political representation because of this quaint notion called democracy.

"Harper should have forced his party to vote in favour of the legisation" - note to Michael you're predicting his actual stance will ruin him, I can personally guarantee that forcing his party to vote in favour of same sex legislation would have caused Harper to be deposed as leader within a month's time. It would be political suicide and his party would not have listened. He could have told them "you must be in favour of the legislation or be expelled from the party", they in turn would have said "go to hell this is a grass roots party" and that would have been the end of Stephen Harper. Fortunately, unlike in Michael's dream world Stephen Harper is not stupid.

Michael labours under the illusion that this issue somehow makes the Conservative Party unelectable if it carries on into an election, my response is simple. Bring it. Just bloody bring it. If you want to hand us the keys to 24 Sussex on a silver platter, let's have an election on the issue.


At 9:14 a.m., Blogger angry_in_t_o said...

Great post! Excellent recap of where things stand, and what the reality is. I liked your take on the law of unintended consequences and polygamy -- very similar to my review of the foundations of marriage and the alternatives. As for unintended consequences, the Canadian military seems downright eager to try on a few for size with their latest idea about gay marriage among the troops.


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