3 min

Our day in the sun

Municipal race needs your vote

So, who caught that Vancouver Sun slate endorsement on Sat Nov 10? Wasn’t it juicy? After months of raising important questions about the way the NPA governs, about the back-room shenanigans of the party hierarchy, about the issues in the Downtown Eastside, the Sun backed Jennifer Clarke and a majority of NPA councillors in the election race. They backed George Puil, for Gawd’s sake, after slagging him repeatedly over the past two years.

This, just weeks after publishing an editorial noting that Jennifer Clarke would make a great city manager (the top bureaucrat position at city hall) with her mind for details, but fundamentally lacks a vision for this city.

Now, I’m not slagging the Sun for being quirky; after all, my own personal choices for the election have pissed off gays I know in all three municipal parties. And it’s certainly an editorial board’s job to keep their minds open about issues.

But I would so have loved to have been in the room while the editorial board made the decision to back Clarke and mainly the NPA. Journalists across the city are wondering if there was interference in the decision from the Sun publisher, the Asper family, or from corporate advertisers. After all, the editorial pointed to the NPA’s recently released platform pledging to “meet quarterly with the captains of industry, and continue to shift the burden of taxes off businesses and onto residents” as evidence that Clarke and the NPA can change. Fascinating. And not just for the profoundly anachronistic phrase, “captains of industry.”

The good news is that the Sun’s editorial probably opens up a race that was fast becoming a too-easy cake-walk for Larry Campbell and COPE. And it’s made it clear that those in our community who want change, and saw Valerie MacLean as a middle-of-the-road option to get it, might want to reconsider.

A vote for MacLean right now, is a vote for Jennifer Clarke and the crap our community has put up with for far too long in the way of policing, lack of genuine representation at city hall, and harassment of our businesses. COPE has become middle-of-the-road itself over the last few years and put forward an innovative, moderate slate that took the time to meet with our community’s leaders at the beginning of the election.

Combining Campbell for mayor with a mix of COPE and vcaTEAM city council candidates (and I’m personally voting for Duncan Wilson from the NPA) could give our community its overdue day in the sun.

The NPA has further disgraced itself this election with the attack ads now running. That party’s done poorly in an election dominated by issues. In desperation they’re getting nasty, inaccurate and very personal and spending a fortune doing so. Cynically, they think voters are that gullible.

If you ever doubted it, your vote is needed now more than ever. Call 604.873.7681 (or check to find out where to vote. Take two pieces of ID that verify your address and your signature to the polls.

Dear Justice Minister Martin Cauchon; You say you want to hear from Canadians which of four options they prefer as you deal with the issue of same-sex relationships.

Glad you asked. You’re already doing better than the gay community’s representative group, Egale, which began pushing two years ago for marriage equality without first asking gays and lesbians what they wanted. (They did retrofit a “consultation” process after gay media made loud noises about the oversight.)

Personally, I propose following Pierre Trudeau’s dictum: The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

My favoured option is the one you label “eliminating the role of the federal government in marriage and transferring the responsibilities to religious authorities.” But with a caveat: you stop giving benefits to those who choose to marry.

Withdraw your government from the marriage business and its benefits. If a couple wants to get married, straight or gay, they can go to a church (we have our own gay churches and the United Church, so we’ll have somewhere to go) or hire a qualified person to walk into the sea or up a mountain to perform the ceremony. Of course, you must allow for a liberal interpretation of “church” so that those of us who are irreligious can have our own ceremony.

Lesbians and gays have for decades reaffirmed our love in commitment ceremonies in churches and elsewhere. A ceremony is a beautiful occasion, with profound meaning, for the couple and their circle.

But what’s not needed, and in fact, is not right in these modern times, is for government to bestow special status and favour after any commitment ceremony, including formal marriage.

It’s not right, Mr Minister, for government to weigh in, endorsing through law and benefits, some kinds of loving relationships over other kinds. Or over staying single and self-sufficient, for that matter. Why should married people get tax benefits? Why should government bestow special acknowledgement on married people living together and not on newly dating people living apart, and not on single people, and not on an unmarried woman taking care of her handicapped sister?

I say get out of the entire mess. Laws will still be needed to safeguard the children of couples, but laws encouraging marriage are not necessary for that. Let people pledge their love and support. But don’t give them legislated special recognition, benefits, or responsibilities for doing so.

Love will flourish best when government stops trying to control it.

Thanks for asking, Mr Minister.

Gareth Kirkby is Managing Editor for Xtra.