Friday, June 17, 2005

Priorities 2

After going after the Conservatives yesterday for making same sex marriage their top issue, I feel it's only fair to lambast the Liberals for dropping it way down their list of priorities. This issue has been around for a long time and Jean Chretien pretty much announced it was going to be law two years ago. We've heard all the arguments, both good and bad, and unlike, say, STV, everybody has an opinion on the issue. And it's legal in 7 provinces already! Why the Liberals have stalled on this when they clearly want the issue to go away is beyond me but it's become abundantly clear where the "Mr. Dithers" nick-name has come from. It strikes me as odd that something the Prime Minister has called "a human rights issue" has been left to die for the time being...heck, they may even prorogue parliament in the fall so it could be over a year before this legislation is passed.

I know the NDP budget is important but they drafted the SSM legislation over Christmas. If Valeri couldn't steer it through the House in one sitting when three parties and a majority of MPs support it, he's not doing his job, it's that simple.

So while Same Sex Marriage has risen on the list of conservative annoyances, it's fallen on the list of Liberal priorities, which I now present:

most important
1. Staying in power
2. The Jack Layton Budget
3. The Ralph Goodale Budget
4. Staying in power
5. Staying in power
6. Maintaining their publicity program with the South Beach Diet creators
7. David Herle's polling numbers to determine the best way to stay in power
8. Keeping the fur on the welcome mat comfy to ensure they stay in power
9. Democratic Reform (well, we haven't seen any action here, but with two ministers and the PM on the job, surely the democratic deficit is a top priority, right...right...RIGHT?)
10. Same Sex Marriage
least important

14 Comments:

  • This requested deal surprises me and seems risky. If I were a Conservative I would put up the best possible fight on C-48, and C-38. If they both pass, so be it. At least that way they could still campaign on fiscal responsibility. If they're hoping that the traditional supporters of marriage will all come out of the woodwork over the summer, I think they're mistaken. If they think they can avoid a vote on C-38 until after an election, I think they are mistaken. If they think they want to campaign on samesex marriage, I think they are not politically astute. Well, I think that regardless.

    By Blogger Manatee, at 2:03 AM  

  • The dissention in the Liberal caucus over SSM almost certainly exceeds what is publicly discussed. The rhetoric from both sides has grown intolerant and the issue is becoming increasingly polarizing.

    Polls suggest that most Canadians support Civil Unions but remain ambivalent about same-sexed marriage. A polarizing issue is the last thing the Liberals want right now, and they realize they will probably have a greater chance of passing SSM with public acceptance in the fall (or winter) than before the end of next week.

    By Blogger Psychols, at 3:18 AM  

  • Cynical as it sounds, I think this works to the Libs advantage

    1) They keep the issue around longer, and it is useful for keeping fiscal urban conservatives from joining the Cons ranks.

    2) They absolutely have to get the budget vote done first (very slim majority) before C-38 (easy majority) because they face a very real threat of linkage by their own socially conservative caucus members.

    By Blogger OttawaCon, at 7:53 AM  

  • I agree with Ottawa Con. Let's divide the public into three parts: anti-ssm, pro-ssm, and those who are willing to compromise (e.g., by creating civil unions). At the moment, the conservatives are (one suspects) doing well on this issue with the anti-ssm, but by making it such a high priority, run the risk of alienating the middle group. For the Liberals, being seen to place a lower priority on ssm does the opposite. It also allows the Liberals to drive a wedge been a moderate electorate and what they will portray as the social extremism of the Conservatives.

    By Blogger buckets, at 8:17 AM  

  • I note that SSM is #4 in the list of real priorities. Is that really so bad?

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 9:38 AM  

  • I think OttawaCon and buckets have hit the nail on the head. There is not much upside to this issue for the Conservatives. They already have the support of the majority SSM haters. I spoke to someone yesterday who predicted that if the Liberals didn't push to pass C-38 now, they would likely try to find a way to lose a confidence vote in the fall before it passes. I'm not so sure anyone wants this to be an election issue, but it would be an invitation for progressive voters to ship their votes to the Liberals out of fear.

    By Blogger Manatee, at 11:41 AM  

  • Ottawacon, I'm as cynical as you but in a different way. I suspect they will drag SSM out, at least over the summer, because for them passing it would be worse.

    I used to think it would be a good way to really show how ineffective Harper is as a leader and put huges cracks in the CPC that may tear them apart of cause ore defections. I still think this can work.

    But then it hit me. If he passes SSM right now, there is nothing left to talk about except the Supreme Court decision and Healthcare. All summer. The only major thing left to debate in the house all fall.

    Yep, talk all that time how the system broke and wait times lengthened under Paul Martin, Minister of Finance and how the Romanow Report has been ignored for 2 years, under Paul Martin, Prime Minister.

    Not the kind of talk you want for 6 months before an election about the number 1 priority of Canadians.

    So, keep SSM around a while longer and give them something else controversial to tharash about...

    By Blogger Mike, at 2:14 PM  

  • I agree with Jason, that is really not that bad

    By Blogger fartcatcher, at 3:50 PM  

  • Harper can not offer what his not his to offer. Only the provinces can grant civil unions and two provinces (BC and Ontario I think) have ruled that the civil union option is no option at all. It is no wonder that people think he has a hidden agenda.

    From what I hear. It was Tom, please leave the party you are embrassement, Wappel that gummed up the works. He threatened to leave the party, if he did not get his way.

    By Anonymous koby, at 5:20 PM  

  • Quote: Let's divide the public into three parts: anti-ssm, pro-ssm, and those who are willing to compromise (e.g., by creating civil unions). "

    The Conservatives are in the third group I believe - they are for civil unions and want all couples to have the exact same rights and obligations.

    They, I think, are just opposed to changing the word "marriage" to describe the civil union between same sex couples.

    I think the "anti-SS UNIONS " group is actually quite small.

    I think the Liberal MPs (about 1 out of 4) are also pro-civil unions with all of the same rights - just against changing the word to marriage.

    So, I do agree there are at least 3 groups peole try to blur the line to make the for civil union but dont change the word marriage to sound like they are "anti SS UNIONS. But that's spin I guess.

    May I add a fourth group - those WHO DON'T GIVE A RAT"S PATOOIE - we have a country and democracy crumbling all around us and THIS is what we debate.
    Sheesh. Thanks for letting me rant. Enjoy the rain. =

    By Blogger HearHere, at 6:31 PM  

  • I have to agree - I don't think anyone in politics is against equal rights. Some may personally really dislike homosexuality for whatever archaic/traditional reason, but that's the same thing, nor uncommon.

    The issue is whether an institution by any other name would smell as sweet, and if not if that rises to a "human rights violation."

    There are good arguments to be made on both sides. The Ontario and BC Courts of Appeal said the name was that important. The BC trial judge said no. Denmark, he UK, Quebec, Vermont, and France also say no.

    The upshot is that neither view ought to be vilified.

    For me, it comes down to what is *better* (if not necessary per se) if we're all agreed on substantive equality. And that's gay marriage.

    By Blogger matt, at 11:48 PM  

  • Oh - I forgot to mention I found Koby's comment interesting.

    Let's assume that Harper's plan to define marriage as comprising equal subcategories of a. marriage for heteros and b. civil unions for gays passes constitutional muster (i.e. b/c the "living tree" is big enough, owing to the SCC's margin deference to Parliament, etc.).

    Koby is right in that BC, for example, would be in charge of the modalities of civil unions. Then, if BC doesn't like it, it could not distinguish at all between the two in issuing "marriage" licenses. And poof - substantive and formal equality.

    What would happen then?

    By Blogger matt, at 11:54 PM  

  • We could always do as many Europeans do, where marriages solemnized in a church aren't recognized by the state as such: a couple must go through a civil ceremony (typically a small, private affair). Then, if they are religious, they can repeat their vows in a church.

    So far, Martin has refused to even consider any reasonable alternatives to C-38. The Conservatives want to bring forward more such discussion.

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:18 AM  

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