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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Once there was a haunted loop / of your deep fallen tears / a forehead resting / on a record shelf
— A.C. Newman, There are Maybe 10 or 12
November 18, 2006
Canada’s Gay Marriage Laws in the New York Times

It’s not often that Canada makes the New York Times, so it’s always worth noting when it does.

Gay Marriage Galvanizes Canada’s Religious Right

OTTAWA — It was a lonely time here in the capital for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in the early days of the gay marriage debate in 2003.

Of the scattered conservative Christian groups opposed to extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, it was the only one with a full-time office in Ottawa to lobby politicians. “We were the only ones here,” said Janet Epp Buckingham, who was the group’s public policy director then.

But that was before the legislation passed in 2005 allowing gay marriage in Canada. And before the election early this year of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative and an evangelical Christian who frequently caps his speeches with “God bless Canada.”

Today across the country, the gay marriage issue and Mr. Harper’s election have galvanized conservative Christian groups to enter politics like never before.

Before now, the Christian right was not a political force in this mostly secular, liberal country. But it is coalescing with new clout and credibility, similar to the evangelical Christian movement in the United States in the 1980s, though not nearly on the same scale.

Not only is this a contentious issue, the article is a wonderful demonstration of stereotyping.

The idea of Canada as a “mostly secular, liberal country” is somewhat disingenous and even misleading. While it may be true that Canada’s major cities are secular (and that most Canadians live in these urban centres,) our wide open spaces in between are strongly religious places. It’s easy to forget how recently Quebec’s quiet revolution transformed the face of that province and the Roman Catholic church’s role in it.

Canada is, by and large, not much different than the United States when it comes to religion. The existence of publicly funded Catholic schools could actually be used to shape an argument that Canada is less secular than our southern neighbours.

The article does make a statement with respect to the Harper government that creates a fairly realistic portrait of the left/right balance that has been struck in the current minority parliament.

Mr. Harper’s government has not introduced an avalanche of socially conservative measures, but has instead shifted subtly to the right, one policy at a time.

The article nicely reminds people that it’s not the Reform Pary that’s causing a shift to the social right—we’ve seen this before with a supposedly gentler, kinder Conservative government.

In 1989, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney introduced legislation banning abortions in cases where the health of the mother was not at risk but the bill failed in the Senate and never became law.

An interesting ommission from the article which could have been made is the fact that the United States has a constitutional separation of church and state, while Canada does not. There is a de facto separation that exists (with some notable exceptions) but it is not a matter of law.

Posted by skooter at 2:55 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
This entry is tagged: Conservative Party of Canada, Gay Marriage, Stephen Harper

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