Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Minor Error, Major Issue

A friend requested that I do a post on the recent controversy over gay marriage in Canada. To me it seemed to be one of those stories that had the fiery passions of a thousand suns, until it imploded on itself and ended with little fanfare. To the beginning!

The Federal Justice Department released a legal opinion that a same-sex marriage may not be valid in Canada if the couple were from acountry that did not recognize same-sex marriage. The foreign aspect appears to have been lost in many press pieces, which I am sure only led to legitimate concern. I am no big city lawyer (this is where a gesture with suspenders comes in handy), but it seems to me the Justice Department was pointing out the simple issue that if a marriage is legally invalid than they cannot be divorced.

From what I remember many couples, particularly Americans, travelled to Canada in the wake of the change and got married. Essentially this legal clarification could undo all those nuptials. Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae (LPC – Toronto Centre, ON) and Olivia Chow (NDP – Trinity-Spadina, ON) came out publically and denounced the report as the Conservatives’ attempt to undermine same-sex marriage. The same day Prime Minister Stephen Harper (CPC – Calgary Southwest, AB) reassured the public that no change to the policy was forthcoming.

Despite this, a firestorm (or perhaps solar storm, returning to my earlier metaphor) erupted that Harper was on his way to eliminating gay rights. The following day Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (CPC - Niagara Falls, ON) stated that the law would be amended tocorrect the error. The mistake was in the original legislation passed by the Liberals in 2005.


There seems to be a pretty deep paranoia amongst the lefties of Canada about the Harper government, particularly the social issues. Despite repeated and emphatic statements that issues such as gay marriage, and abortion will not be addressed the liberal part of the spectrum continues to worry. Whenever anything like this happens like a person with a major allergy a major crisis ensues with only the slightest contact between the Conservative government and social issues.

As a person who can be safely called a lefty (though I don’t like it) I’m more concerned with the changes the Harper Government is making to economic policy, to foreign policy and some of the shifts the CPC has caused in Canadian political culture. Those are real, tangible changes that the Harper Team will proudly boast about. I do not want to wait for social conservatives to go bump in the night when there are bigger more tangible problems going on in the country.

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