The former head of an ideologically antigay, antifeminist, antiabortion group with connections to the leaders of the US Christian right is the new chief advisor to Canada’s environment minister.
Darrel Reid, head of Focus On The Family Canada from 1998 to 2004, has been appointed chief of staff to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.
Focus On The Family Canada was founded in 1983 as a spinoff of the US evangelical Christian group, Focus On The Family, headed by James Dobson. Both chapters are vigorous opponents of gay and lesbian rights, same-sex marriage, abortion rights and feminism. They advocate for legal protection of parents spanking their children.
Though the Canadian organization has traditionally enjoyed little influence outside of rural enclaves and evangelical churches, the US parent is seen as a major influence on the Republican Party and US politics.
In 2003, Reid compared Canada to Nazi Germany for including gay men and lesbians as a protected group under hate crimes laws. In an interview with a Focus Canada publication, Reid voiced disapproval of Canada following Quebec’s “social radicalism.”
“When it comes to marriage, sexual mores and abortion, that’s not reassuring,” Reid told the newsletter.
In an Oct 3 statement, interim Liberal leader Bill Graham called Reid’s appointment an “affront to our democracy” and called for Reid’s resignation.
Gilles Marchildon, executive director of national lobby group Egale Canada, says Reid “is a man clearly opposed to any kind of social reality outside of the nuclear family. Mr Reid’s appointment is just one more dot that we need to connect and make sure all Canadians know the agenda that’s at play.”
The agenda? “To impose the values of the religious right on Canadian society, and it’s to snuff out diversity. [Queers] are one of the first targets because we’re among the most easily identifiable groups. But we need to work with other communities that will also be targeted.”
Tom Warner of the group Coalition For Lesbian And Gay Rights In Ontario (CLGRO) is writing a book on the Christian right in Canada and their connections to political parties.
“It’s a good thing [Reid] was appointed to the environment ministry and not one where he could implement the ‘focus on the family,’ like justice,” says Warner. “He’s quite a scary person in terms of what he stands for and the positions he’s staked out.”
After leaving Focus On The Family in 2004, Reid, supported by the BC group Defend Marriage, ran as the Conservative candidate in Richmond riding in the 2005 federal election. Reid’s campaign focussed on attracting votes from the Chinese and Sikh families by emphasizing his opposition to same-sex marriage and promising to get tough on crime. He lost to Liberal candidate Raymond Chan.
Reid shut himself off from media access during the campaign. Some charged that the Harper campaign team was hiding him and other social conservatives so that they would not make comments that could hurt the party in more liberal ridings in the country.
Reid was seeking the nomination again for the next federal election when he decided instead to take the Ottawa job. Now considering a run at the riding nomination for the Conservatives in Richmond is Brian Rodnick, chair of Concerned Parents of British Columbia, a rightwing lobby group that recently opposed government plans to teach about homosexuality in that province’s public school system.
In Reid’s own words
* “This [Bill C-250, which adds ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of ‘identifiable groups’ to be protected] isn’t the first time in human history where tyranny has been imposed on people. You know it happened in Germany in the ’30s, and frankly I see some real parallels there, because you know Adolf Hitler and his bunch really didn’t care ultimately what you thought personally, but they really cared about what you said, because that became dangerous, and therefore when people spoke up about things like freedom or spoke up about their religious values, that was when the power of the state started coming down.” (Canadian Press, Jan 16, 2006)
* “Liberalization of divorce laws was the biggest disaster to hit Canada, short of common-law marriage…. Every Christian’s under an obligation to change laws to reflect biblical values.” (The Report magazine, Apr 24, 2000)
* “Only God can make Canada a truly Christian country…. Christians are called to be faithful where God places them. We are called to speak biblical truth to seek justice — and that obviously has implications for our political life.” (Canadianchristianity.com)
From a list distributed by the federal Liberal Party