Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Let them talk, I say

So the right-wing pundits in the media are trying to reassure Canadians, telling us that Harper is a libertarian, and that his alliance with the Christian right is a strategic one, designed to gain power. Apparently he isn't a "true believer," even though he is a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, which follows a literal interpretation of the bible (I wonder if he follows the command not to wear fabrics with mixed fibres, or if he avoids shellfish, or any of the other specific instructions that the bible provides).

Anyway, his personal beliefs aside, he won't be able to muzzle the lunatics for much longer. He ran a careful campaign, where he clearly told Stockwell Day and Cheryl Gallant to shut up. But the fundamentalist groups that backed Harper want to have their seat at the table. And they are just rolling up their sleeves for a long battle ...

Here are some groups to keep an eye on -- this will be the real locus of power driving the Conservative Party's social agenda -- even if they don't publicly admit it:

  • Focus on the Family is the organization led by James Dobson, based in the U.S., with a recently-opened office on Parliament Hill, and another large Canadian office (with over 70 employees), operating out of B.C. Their website might look benign, but Dobson runs a media empire -- his radio shows alone are heard by 200 million listeners in 164 countries. In 2004/05, he repeatedly told his listeners that the gay marriage issue had "turned ugly" in Canada, and asked listeners for to send money to help him fight the incursion on "traditional" families.
  • The Defend Marriage Coalition is a Calgary based-coalition of Canada Family Action Coalition; Real Women of Canada; the Catholic Civil Rights League and Campaign Life Coalition. 'Nuf said. I linked to all of them, because you should read what they are saying -- especially how they've spun Monday's election results.
  • The newly-formed Institute for Canadian Values came together just before the gay marriage vote in Parliament in June. The organization's website refers to the Liberal Party's "radical social agenda." The Institute is headed up by Joseph Ben-Ami, the former communications director at B'nai Brith. And I'd just like to say, that as a Jew, I am revolted that someone that was so closely affiliated with what is supposed to be a Jewish human rights organization would be at the helm of an organization that promotes homophobia and legalized discrimination. Mr Ben-Ami: don't you think the experience of anti-Semitism should make us more accepting of people that may be different from us? Does the term "human rights" only apply to non-gay humans?

They say that a person can be judged by the company he keeps. All of the organizations named above have professed support for Harper, and representatives of these groups ran as Conservative candidates in this federal election.

But Harper's a changed man, right?

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