2 min

Are queers a distraction from bad government?

Look over there, not at the last four years

Credit: Jan Becker

With Premier Ernie Eves doing everything he can to draw attention away from the Progressive Conservative record – calling Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty a kitten-eater from another planet and pushing rightwing buttons on federal issues like same-sex marriage – there’s not much room for debate on policy in this Ontario election.

“It’s worrisome,” says Nick Mulé, spokesperson for the Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights In Ontario (CLGRO). “Generally speaking the electorate isn’t that educated about the political process…. Eves is taking advantage of that.”

Heading up to the Thu, Oct 2 election date, Eves has spoken out against same-sex marriage (though he spoke in favour of and did not appeal an Ontario Court Of Appeal ruling that legalized it here), against immigration policies and for capital punishment – all federal issues.

“They think they can attract social conservatives to their causes as a way of distinguishing themselves from fiscal conservatives, which is where Dalton McGuinty seems to be positioning himself,” says Linda White, an assistant professor of political science at the University Of Toronto. “To equate immigration with crime gains political points.”

In Toronto Centre-Rosedale, two of the main party candidates say education spending is a priority.

“We will reduce the tuition fees by 10 percent,” says NDP candidate Gene Lara. “We should have an excellence fund for education to guarantee that there is some money for the youth.”

Lara, who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 1981, has six children, one of whom is gay. She’s executive director of Intercede, an organization working for the rights of domestic caregivers and has been active in tenants issues in St Jamestown where she lives.

Openly gay Liberal incumbent George Smitherman says his party will add $1.6-billion over four years on education and cap class sizes at 20 pupils per classroom from kindergarten to grade three.

Smitherman, who was elected to office in June 1999 and who is the chair of the Liberals’ Toronto area caucus and finance critic, has worked as an advisor to federal cabinet ministers David Collenette and Herb Gray.

Toronto Centre-Rosedale PC candidate John Adams says the focus needs be on getting “the feds to understand that reinvesting in the GTA is in their interest. We need the feds to stop being such a big drain.”

He points to the proposed waterfront redevelopment plan, with shared funding from the feds, the province, the city and the private sector, as a win-win situation.

Adams, a three-term city councillor who bills himself as fiscally conservative and socially progressive, says Ontario should ally with Quebec to tackle the structure of the provincial-federal relationship – and get a new deal for cities.

“We need a change in the thinking of public politicians. We need a change in political leadership in Toronto,” says Adams.

Smitherman agrees that the city has been getting a raw deal.

“Dalton has long since recognized that Toronto’s essential role can only be fulfilled if the city is functioning better. We look forward to creating a dynamic partnership with the city.”

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