No sooner did Bill C-38 pass in the Commons than the 400-foot civilization-destroying spiders descended upon Toronto.
Finding little in the gay-infested Sodom By The Humber to their dislike, they turned their hairy-legged attention to the religious regions of 905 and 519, breaking off church steeples to use as toothpicks and picking up church ministers by their dog collars and forcing them to marry plump Catholic girls to fattened hogs. Polygamists danced through the Wal-Marts. The apocalypse was nigh.
Well, maybe not.
How far we’ve come in just 38 years, or least some of us. It is now safe for mainstream homos to marry and jointly contribute to their RRSPs. The homophobic commentary continued.
Religious activist Charles McVety immediately likened the once-precious state of marriage to prostitution and drug use, thanks to the base-metal effect of same-sex marriage. Stephen Harper, perhaps not realizing that he’d allowed his reservoir of political capital to dribble away over a fight that had already been determined by the courts, vowed to fight again.
It was much in the way that Jean Chrétien had once vowed to abolish the Goods And Services Tax, which had been framed by the Mulroney government. They didn’t in the end, because they realized its fairness as a levy that taxed consumption instead of initiative. So, too, will Harper probably realize there ain’t much to be gained by fighting equal marriage again.
How do we know this? Let’s take a few bounces on the diving board of nostalgia and cool-off with memories of two images from the 1970s. The once-leader of the Tories, John Diefenbaker, was spending a long twilight as a backbencher, having been stabbed in the nation’s greatest cathedral, Maple Leaf Gardens at the 1967 party convention. Dief thundered and rattled regularly against the arrogance, disrespect and aloofness of the Trudeau government. Hardly a week went by without Dief warning of a new parliamentary apocalypse.
The catastrophes were innumerable: When Pierre Trudeau idly mentioned he’d used force to prevent Quebec from separating from Canada, Dief intoned that Trudeau’s remarks were “the most irresponsible statement ever made by a prime minister.”
When the Liberals attempted to give decision-making over the making of gold coins to the cabinet and away from the House, Dief railed that the Liberals were making a “eunuch of Parliament.”
While he was never a great parliamentarian, Diefenbaker and his successor, Robert Stanfield, were completely different from today’s America-lovin’, tailgate-partyin’, trailer-trash Conservatives. Witness a 1978 speech by Stanfield on the need to accept the importance of the French language in Canadian life. This was at a time of bitter Anglophone opposition to legislated bilingualism. A best-selling diatribe by wacky former naval officer JV “Jock” Andrews, Bilingualism Today French Tomorrow, warned of the cascading effect of allowing Canadian francophones the right to live their lives in their own language. Soon, Jocko warned, we’d all have to speak French.
Similarly, there was little Conservative Party braying over the introduction of the metric system in January 1978. Back then, the real opposition to metric came from crackpots, including one British Columbian who printed up impressive but fake government leaflets announcing that a “dozen” would herewith change to the metric paradigm of ten. Six-packs of beers would become five packs. People took such things seriously. Following bitter objections, Canada’s first metric gas station, which stood at the corner of Jarvis and Isabella streets, reverted to imperial.
Bilingualism and the metric system became linked in doggy chain of grievances among yobbo Canadians. And yet somehow the country scraped through, grew economically and even grew a little more confident.
Now here we are, with same-sex marriage a mari usque ad mare. The transition will probably be just as bumpy as it was for bilingualism and metric. There were freak-outs whenever some buck-toothed chuckwagon driver picked up a can of stewed beets in the Loblaws, saw French words and, possibly even more terrifying – millilitres. Gay society should expect to see the pinched faces of the vinegar-soaked religious set giving Old Towne trolley tours of a pending apocalypse courtesy of same-sex marriage. Homosexuality, like bilingualism they will charge, is being forced down the throats of Canadians.
Though speaking selfishly, that sounds kind of hot.