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Querying Beaches-East York, Trinity-Spadina candidates

The NDP's Marilyn Churley (left) is challenging Liberal Maria Minna (right) for the riding of Beaches-East York.

One of the most closely watched races of this election is Beaches-East York where former NDP MPP Marilyn Churley is squaring off against incumbent Liberal Maria Minna. Churley has taken a risk in giving up a secure, if backbench, provincial seat in her bid for a big seat in Ottawa. Minna’s policies, while more to the right than Churley’s, are still on the left of the Liberals in many areas.

Xtra sent Conservative, Liberal and NDP candidates in this hot riding a list of questions on queer issues, worded so “yes” is the most positive answer, although, like her counterpart Bill Graham profiled in the article Storming The Village Gates (which can be found elsewhere in the headlines section), Minna preferred essay-style answers echoing, oftentimes word for word, Liberal party policy. Minna and Churley would vote against any Conservative attempts to rollback civil gay marriage.The Conservative candidate in this riding, Peter Conroy, responded only with, “We are unfortunately unable to respond to surveys at this time.”

MARIA MINNA (INCUMBENT), LIBERAL

Do you support the inclusion of gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act?

If it were determined that gender identity is not sufficiently protected by existing provisions, then I would support the inclusion of a provision to do so. [Minna went on to repeat, word for word, Liberal party policy as per Bill Graham’s responses in the story Storming The Village under the headlines section.]

Do you oppose the government’s decision to appeal the retroactivity of CPP benefits for same-sex couples?

I support the government’s decision to oppose retroactivity in this case, because I think the precedent of retroactivity would make social change more difficult to achieve. This case challenges the right of Parliament to establish when its laws become effective. [Minna went on to repeat, word for word, Liberal party policy as per Bill Graham’s responses in the story Storming The Village under the headlines section.]

Considering the history of how lesbian and gay images and topics have been treated do you agree that governments should let adult Canadians decide what kind of sexual content they should see in text, photos and video?

For the most part, I think that our current laws strike an appropriate balance between weeding out inappropriate illegal materials (such as materials that portray sexual exploitation of children or criminally abusive behaviour) and legal sexual content. The courts have provided guarantees for artistic expression. [Editor’s note: Although the Liberals Bill C-2 would have replaced “artistic expression” with “legitimate purpose.”] There is an issue relating to importing sexual content from other countries, as demonstrated by the Little SistDer’s Bookstore case. I would support clearer guidelines for border officials in this regard.

Do you support keeping the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 14 years of age and ensuring equality for all types of sexual activity? (Currently anal sex has an age of consent of 18 under legislation although 14 under case law.)

I do support keeping the age of consent at 14 and I do not see a good justification for distinguishing between anal sex and other forms of sexual activity when it comes to the age of consent. As such, I would support the removal of the anal sex provisions from the criminal code. The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

Given that one of the problems people living with HIV/AIDS often face is extreme poverty will you actively support the development and long-term funding of a national affordable housing strategy?

Absolutely. Affordable housing has been one of my highest priorities as a Member Of Parliament. The Liberal government has made major investments in affordable housing over the past several years and we need to continue to build on these investments. I think that in the near future we need to put in place a well-funded national affordable housing strategy that looks ahead at least 10 years.

MARILYN CHURLEY, NDP

Do you support the inclusion of gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act?

Yes. The federal NDP has shown leadership on this issue. This past May NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) introduced legislation in the House Of Commons that, once passed, would include gender identity or gender expression as a prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Liberal’s on the other hand have opposed this bill.

Do you oppose the government’s decision to appeal the retroactivity of CPP benefits for same-sex couples?

Yes. The NDP would immediately abandon the Liberal’s active appeal of the Supreme Court decision. We oppose their cruel and discriminatory legal action. As an MPP in the Ontario Legislature I raised opposition to the provincial Liberals siding with their federal cousins to appeal the Hislop ruling at the Ontario Superior Court. When the Ontario Superior Court Of Justice upheld the lower court’s ruling, I and others urged the federal Liberals to not appeal the decision. The federal Liberals’ current course of action draws into question their commitment to equal rights for same-sex couples.

Considering the history of how lesbian and gay images and topics have been treated do you agree that governments should let adult Canadians decide what kind of sexual content they should see in text, photos and video?

The NDP opposes the production, sale or distribution of child pornography. We believe in the principle that the state should not be interfering in the behaviour between consenting adults.

Do you support keeping the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 14 years of age and ensuring equality for all types of sexual activity? (Currently anal sex has an age of consent of 18 under legislation although 14 under case law.)

The NDP did not support Bill C-313, which sought to raise the age of consent and which would have criminalized approximately 165,000 young men and women for engaging in sexual contact. The NDP is fully committed to ensuring equality for all our laws. We are also fully committed to ensuring our laws protect our youth equally.

Given that one of the problems people living with HIV/AIDS often face is extreme poverty will you actively support the development and long-term funding of a national affordable housing strategy?

Yes. We very much opposed Paul Martin’s decision as finance minister to finish Brian Mulroney’s work in eliminating the national housing program and his decision to exclude housing from his budget as Prime Minister. In fact, it was the NDP that rewrote their budget and forced the Liberals to include $1.5 billion for low-income housing.

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Another hot race this year is the perennial Tony Ianno versus Olivia Chow face-off in the riding of Trinity-Spadina. Chow is facing one of two clich├ęs — it’ll either be “three strikes you’re out” or “third time is a charm” as this NDPer and Toronto city councillor (not to mention wife of NDP party leader Jack Layton) challenges Liberal Ianno for his seat. Ianno, an MP since 1993, narrowly won the election 18 months ago; the split was 805 votes or 1.5 percent. While Ianno had a high grade in Egale’s survey in the last election he didn’t answer many of the questions put to him by Xtra. Both would vote against Tory attempts to rollback civil gay marriage. Conservative candidate Sam Goldstein did not respond to Xtra’s survey.

TONY IANNO (INCUMBENT), LIBERAL

Do you support the decriminalization of marijuana?

Yes. This is the policy of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government.

Do you oppose the government’s decision to appeal the retroactivity of CPP benefits for same-sex couples?

No answer. [Ianno presently serves in Cabinet and says he’s therefore unable to answer this question.]

Given that prostitution itself is legal in Canada do you support the repeal of Section 213 of the Criminal Code, which currently makes it illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution?

No answer.

Do you support keeping the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 14 years of age, and ensuring equality for all types of sexual activity? (Currently anal sex has an age of consent of 18 under legislation although 14 under case law.)

Yes.

Considering the history of how lesbian and gay images and topics have been treated do you agree that governments should let adult Canadians decide what kind of sexual content they should see in text, photos and video?

No answer.

OLIVIA CHOW, NDP

Do you support the decriminalization of marijuana?

Yes.

Do you oppose the government’s decision to appeal the retroactivity of CPP benefits for same-sex couples?

Yes. We should immediately abandon the Liberal’s active appeal of the Supreme Court decision.

Given that prostitution itself is legal in Canada do you support the repeal of Section 213 of the Criminal Code, which currently makes it illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution?

Current solicitation laws have often endangered the safety of women and I will work to address these issues. The illegal nature of the sex trade has a dramatic impact on the health of our communities and the safety and rights of those working in the industry. The NDP has advocated for changes that will reduce the harm to sex-trade workers and communities. It is time we stopped treating these workers like disposable garbage and ignoring the risks posed to communities by the contradictory legal framework that surrounds the sex trade.

Do you support keeping the age of consent for sexual intercourse at 14 years of age, and ensuring equality for all types of sexual activity? (Currently anal sex has an age of consent of 18 under legislation although 14 under case law.)

[See Churley’s answer above. Both repeated the NDP policy more or less word for word].

Considering the history of how lesbian and gay images and topics have been treated do you agree that governments should let adult Canadians decide what kind of sexual content they should see in text, photos and video?

[See Churley’s answer above. Both repeated the NDP policy more or less word for word].