If the Conservatives have a hidden agenda, someone forgot to tell the candidates. Across the country, Conservatives keep opening their mouths and letting the most vicious and horrendous statements pop out. Are Canadians listening?
Let’s review what’s been reported during this election campaign and look at some resumés.
On Jun 5 Cheryl Gallant, MP for Renfrew-Nippising-Pembroke, told CTV News: “The danger in having sexual orientation just listed, that encompasses for example paedophiles. I believe that the caucus as a whole would like to see it repealed.” Gallant was referring to Bill C-250, which added sexual orientation to the list of protected grounds under the Criminal Code’s hate propaganda law. The bill just passed a free vote in Parliament and the Senate.
Justice critic Vic Toews led his party’s opposition to Bill C-250. In a letter to his constituents leaked during the campaign, Toews encourages opponents to bring the issue back to the table by voting Conservative.
“Your efforts and dedication to stop this bill from becoming law have been appreciated and have helped to prepare the groundwork for the repeal or substantive amendment of this bill in the next session of Parliament after the election,” the MP for Provencher wrote in an Apr 30 letter.
Frank Luella, the candidate in Kitchener-Conestoga, was reported in the Kitchener Record on Jun 10 as calling homosexuality “unnatural behaviour,” suggesting the government should provide counselling for gay men and lesbians.
Luella is the former executive director of the Canadian Council Of Christian Charities, an agency that prohibits employees from reading or viewing pornography, engaging in premarital or adulterous sex or forming a same-sex relationship.
David Sweet, candidate in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, was head of the Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s group with a website that states: “We believe that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality violates God’s creative design for a husband and a wife and that it is a sin.”
Peter Stock, candidate in Simcoe-North is the cofounder and federal affairs director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, a group that is pushing a “pro-family” agenda during the campaign.
In the July/August 1999 issue of Catholic Insight, Stock wrote: “The child victims of these perverse ‘family’ situations will certainly display greater social pathologies than we can foresee. Today’s STD rates, teen suicides, drug abuse, gang activity and school shootings will seem like a walk in the park compared to the anarchy that will result from the disintegration of the natural family.”
Michael Menear, candidate in London West, is the founder of the Christian Legal Fellowship. He was also a former law partner of Dianne Haskell, the long-time mayor of London who continually refused to declare Pride. Haskell’s former executive assistant Tim Gatten is running as a candidate in London North Centre. Gatten, who was part of the Christian Coalition International, doesn’t mention that fact on his election website. Perhaps that’s because the coalition’s resource database contains articles like “Patriarchs of the Christian faith, early writers clearly condemned homosexuality.”
Not all Conservatives share these views and many have jumped ship.
Rick Borotsik, a two-term Progressive Conservative MP from Manitoba, decided not to run in this election because of his concerns about Harper’s social conservatism. On Jun 11 he told CBC Winnipeg: “Red flags on EI [Employment Insurance], red flags on official bilingualism, red flags on healthcare, red flags on abortion, obviously. He is not bringing it forward. But if it comes forward from his party, he wouldn’t stop it.”
The Toronto Star reported a similar warning on Jun 12 issued by Barry Yeates, a former Alliance and Reform candidate. “I think the views expressed by a number of Conservative candidates and party officials, on topics as diverse as abortion, sexual orientation, bilingualism and immigration, verge on intolerant. I am therefore deeply concerned about what a Stephen Harper government could mean for Canada.”
And in Toronto, a key player resigned.
“Stephen Harper’s willingness to entertain private members’ bills on abortion and capital punishment, to weaken laws that protect gays and lesbians from hate crimes and to override Charter rights on these and other issues has shaken beyond repair my confidence that a Conservative government led by Mr Harper will respect the fundamental rights of Canadians,” said Tamara Kronis, President of the Trinity-Spadina Conservative Party Electoral District Association, in a June 9 press release.
In the ultimate mud-throwing move on Jun 18, Stephen Harper issued a press release accusing Prime Minister Paul Martin and NDP leader Jack Layton of supporting child pornography because they did not vote for Conservative-Alliance private members’ bills on the topic (parties rarely support private members’ bills and the bills were redundant). Harper did not apologize for the news release.