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Old 02-18-2005, 01:19 PM   #1
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Stephen Harper Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot...

Harper speech stirs wide outcry
Comments during gay marriage debate roundly condemned
Insulting `to play politics with an ancient historical wrong'


OTTAWA—When Opposition leader Stephen Harper accused the Liberals of "staggering hypocrisy" on human rights in the debate over gay marriage, he unleashed a storm of reaction inside and outside Parliament.

"Let us not forget it was the Liberal party that said none is too many when it came to Jews fleeing from Hitler. It was the Liberal party that interned Japanese Canadians in camps on Canada's West Coast, an act Pierre Trudeau refused to apologize or make restitution for, leaving it to Brian Mulroney to see justice done," Harper said.

Harper went on to say Conservatives led the way on anti-apartheid actions.

A range of groups responded yesterday with fury, saying Harper went too far. A flurry of outraged news releases descended on media offices from the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Chinese Canadian National Council, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Canadian Buddhists Civil Liberties Association, the World Sikh Organization, the British Columbia Unitarian Church and the Muslim Canadian Congress.

A director of the National Association of Japanese Canadians said in a news release it was "wrong-headed" of Harper "to try to play politics with an ancient historical wrong.

"By raising the issue of Japanese Canadian internment, Mr. Harper is resorting to cheap political shots ... rather than facing the inconsistency of his position on human rights," said Professor Audrey Kobayashi of Queen's University.

Pat Case, chairman of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, said it was "simply embarrassing" to see Harper try to score political points with the issue.

Judy Hanazawa, of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association, said in a written statement: "Although the fight against racism and racial discrimination is far from over, supporting Bill C-38 for equality rights in marriage for same-sex partners is today's civil rights struggle."

`Mr. Harper is resorting

to cheap political shots.'

Audrey Kobayashi, Queen's University

The Chinese Canadian National Council lambasted Harper for incorrectly stating all Chinese or other ethnic minorities were against equal marriage, saying it is "patronizing and insulting" for him to tell the Commons that there is a "universal view among them."

As for Harper's reference to Canada's record on abusing Jewish or Japanese-Canadians' rights, federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, a legal scholar and a Jew, responded: "Everything that Stephen Harper cited, many of us have already written about and cited.

"The question that I ask Stephen Harper is what does all this have to do with the issue at hand, the question before the House?"

Cotler said it was "nonsense" for Harper "to portray ... the Liberal party as anti-religious, and anti-multiculturalism, anti-everything else, anti-human rights, the source of almost all evil, to deflect away his own vagueness on this matter."

In St. John's, Danny Williams, Newfoundland's outspoken Conservative premier, told Canadian Press he supported same-sex marriage.

"From a personal perspective, I actually support gay marriages," Williams said in an interview. "I practised law for over 30 years and championed social justice and believed in minority rights and believed in the rights and freedoms of individuals under our Charter of Rights."

The Family Services Association of Toronto said Harper, in raising controls the Netherlands and Belgium have put on adoption by gay married couples, wrongly suggests gay parents are somehow "unfit."

Yves Savoie, executive director of the association, said studies show the opposite. He said step-parent and third-party adoption rights are already allowed in nine provinces and one territory in Canada with courts ruling that the exclusion of same-sex couples from adoption rights is unconstitutional. Yesterday, Canadians for Equal Marriage also responded saying Harper was "so busy vetting his MPs speeches, he forgot to check his own."

Alex Munter, the coalition co-ordinator, said Harper "reached a new partisan low by blaming one political party for Canada's collective failure in admitting Jewish refugees and interning Japanese-Canadians."

Harper wrote his speech himself, with some research help, and delivered it for nearly 50 minutes this week during "second reading" debate of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act.
I tell you. Every time the Conservative Party opens its mouth, it ends up coming off as bigoted; and, of course, the Canadian media eats it up (just as it eats up watching the Liberals have internal squabbles).

But, really, Harper has no one to blame but himself. He comes off as a bigot, because the Conservative Party imported GOP operatives from the U.S. to try and make gay marriage a divisive issue to win elections...just as Bush did in 2004.

The difference, of course, is that Americans are stupid enough to fall for it, while Canadians seem to be a bit horrified by the Conservatives' bigotry. Paul Martin exploited that perception of bigotry to squeak in a minority Liberal government. And, as polled, it is expected that a Liberal majority would win in an election, if held today.

Well, Canada might have that election soon: the budget is coming up, and if that's defeated, it automatically topples the government and leads to a new election.



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Old 02-18-2005, 01:50 PM   #2
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:53 PM   #3
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stephen harper

political debates frustrate me to no end, because all too often there is no meaningful discussion. harper's comments simply don't make any sense, and have nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

the thought of another election so soon worries me. i'm not a huge martin fan, but he is the least offensive choice.

i don't think the conservatives have a hope of winning a federal election with harper as their leader. eastern canada is very conservative, but there is little support for harper around here.

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Old 02-18-2005, 02:01 PM   #4
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You're bang on in saying Harper has misread the Canadian "multicultural" electorate. He was trying to make it a "family values" issue with the Indo-Canadian, Chinese, Japanese, and other communities, but he can't ditch his party's (an amalgamation of the right-wing Conservatives and the extremely right wing Reform party) dubious past and present links to members who have been blatantly racist or bigoted.

No matter what he tries, he's coming off as being manipulative and cynical (in the sense that he thinks he can buy political backing from communities if he appeals to their anti-homosexual cultural values). The fact that none of the opposition to gay marriage makes any logical or legal sense also doesn't help.

The Supreme Court has laid it out fairly well. It's time for Canada's political leaders to show leadership. Kudos to the NDP, Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois for standing up to equality. Not that that should be a hard thing, but apparently it is...
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