He’s going. He’s run out of gas, he says.
At 71, he’s making way for new blood. And the kicker is, he’s leaving amid expressions of affection and good will.
In Hindsight, not above entertaining petty thoughts of just deserts, had hoped for something a bit more catastrophic: defeat, even (oh happy day) some form of mild disgrace; but no, just Father Time.
Shall we miss Myron Thompson, federal MP for the Alberta riding of Wild Rose? Well, no. Not a bit. No pining for us.
But we concede that he has played a role in shaping our recent history, so let’s spend some time with him.
Myron Thompson was born in 1936 in Monte Vista, Colorado. He served two years in the American military after university. He moved to Sundre, Alberta in 1968 and became a Canadian citizen in 1974. He spent 23 years as a teacher, counsellor and principal at Sundre High School, as well as serving as councillor and mayor of Sundre.
He was first nominated as a Reform Party candidate on Jun 13, 1992 and was elected to Parliament the following year. His website describes him as “a true conservative with rock solid principles, willing to fight on behalf of his constituents for what is right.”
No prizes for guessing what’s right for Myron: “I want the whole world to know that I do not condone homosexuals,” he said in 1995. “I do not condone their activity…. I think it is unnatural and I think it is totally immoral. I will object to it forever.”
And even more right: “I have said all along, that this [same-sex marriage] is a door to a slippery slope. What’s next? Shall we say it’s okay to have six or seven wives, even if some of them are 13 years old? Where does it end?”
And he’s been right about other topics as well, such as trying minors for adult crimes: “Let’s lower the age to 10.”
During the Civil Marriage Act debate in 2005, Thompson went on record that: “At least one of the major purposes of marriage historically has been to provide a stable environment for the procreation and the raising of children. Having been a teacher and a school principal for a number of years, I can say that I have seen examples of why it is so important that children experience the value of having a mother and a father and their influences. If we change the definition of marriage to end the opposite sex requirement, we will be saying that this goal of marriage is no longer important. I am here today to say that based on my experiences it is extremely important.”
Those same experiences had led him in 1994 to declare: “I’m not opposed to gays, but if you bring one of those suckers into my school and they try to push their crap on my students, I have a problem with that.”
In this, he was a loyal disciple of Reform Party founder Preston Manning who three years earlier had proclaimed: “Homosexuality is destructive to the individual and in the long run to society.”
Thompson’s opposition to homosexuality has an unfettered, visceral quality to it that In Hindsight grudgingly finds impressive.
Indeed, it was his trumpeting during the debate on Bill C-41 on hate crimes that inspired us to undertake the Tides of Men oral history project, reasoning that if more people knew about our history, then they would be less prompt to dismiss us as somehow foreign to the fabric of the country.
Since then, we have felt… something for Thompson. A link, a rapport if you will, because for better or for worse, he has been one of the public figures who have shaped the political debate over our rights, our freedoms and our future in this country.
Thompson may have been on the losing side, but he has been heard across the country; he expresses the thoughts and feelings that many Canadians harbour about us, and he is leaving spiritual successors to fight the good — or is it the right? — fight.
Better yet, Thompson is a living, walking digest of traditional attitudes towards homosexuality. He should be compulsory reading for students of history if they wish to understand the cultural context in which gay liberation was born in this country, so rich, so varied, so grounded in the past are his prejudices.
But let’s be fair: someone who’s been voted Worst Dressed Male MP (is it the Stetson?) on Parliament Hill must have something going for him. And now he’s leaving and taking it with him.