Friday, August 31, 2007
This is a huge victory for equality in that country. Congrats to the couple who was married today as a result.
I hope and pray this good decision holds up under the inevitable appeal to Iowa's Supreme Court.
About 20 gay couples had applied for marriage licenses by 11 a.m. today when the Polk County Recorder announced that she had been instructed to stop accepting the applications. Recorder Julie Haggerty said the instruction came from the county attorney's office after Polk County Judge Robert Hanson, the same judge who threw out the ban, verbally issued a stay of his ruling at the county's request pending appeal. Equality under the law can be truly fleeting, can't it?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Check out how the Toronto Star and Canada.com/CanWest treated yesterday's story of Liberal leader Stephane Dion meeting with Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Danny Williams.
CanWest spins Dion's meeting with Williams with the negative headline, "Newfoundland premier leaves Liberal leader out on a limb."
On the other hand, the Toronto Star takes a pro-Liberal spin with its headline, "Dion casting Harper as untrustworthy."
In it, reporter Susan Delacourt mentions that: "The Dion-Williams meeting was low-key and away from the cameras, at Williams's request, and also because it could have been awkward for Dion to be seen forming common cause with a Conservative while a provincial election is looming and he has Liberal allies in the province to consider."
Funny how that spin got lost in the CanWest article.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself this morning on NBC's "Today" when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a map.
"I would love to re-answer that question," Upton said.
"Well personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on our map. I don't know anyone else who doesn't. And if the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography."
Click here to read the whole Yahoo News story.
Monday, August 27, 2007
This was too precious not to post. I'm sure South Carolinians can be proud of her for other reasons.
I hadn't heard that Truro mayor Bill Mills had further stoked the hateful fires by comparing gays and lesbians to pedophiles. I agree with Mr. Leger that "that’s the kind of odious comparison that veers pretty close to hate speech."
Sunday, August 26, 2007
This appears to be shaping up as a defining issue in this provincial election, one that will greatly help the Liberals, in my view. Except of course perhaps in Thornhill riding, where Liberal Mario Racco is facing a tough challenge from PC Peter Shurman.
On a lighter note, it seems a heck of a lot of fun was had at Liberal MP Scott Brison's wedding to Maxime St. Pierre, particularly at the reception as this article states.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Charles Thompson, with Truro Pride, said the discrimination complaint centres on the fact the town council has agreed to fly flags for other community organizations and groups.
Earlier this month, Truro mayor Bill Mills refused to fly the gay pride flag at city hall for this month's local celebrations, saying doing so would promote a lifestyle that conflicts with his religious views - and most of the town's council backed him.
"There are writings in the book of Romans chapter one, to name a few - basically I have to go with that conviction, and I know it's not a popular one," Mayor Mills told the press.
Congratulations to the members of Truro Pride for standing up for their rights.
I wrote about this issue earlier this month. Public officials who have used their religion to discriminate against LGBT citizens in the past have found they were in the wrong.
On the issue of homosexuality, religious extremists have been in the wrong for centuries. The tenets in mainstream religions against homosexuality are some of the worst examples of abuses of religious power in history (along with the mistreatment of women and many other groups who have suffered under the abuses of religious authority.)
Canada is a secular country where the division between church and state is clear and important. History has taught us of the dangers of mixing religion with politics.
First and foremost, religion is a personal matter. Everyone is free to have their own private, personal beliefs. We are a pluralistic society.
Faith should be private. It should inform individuals on how best to live their own lives and how to treat those around them (hopefully with respect and dignity).
But when faith inspires the believer to impose discrimination and suffering on other people who don't share that faith, as is being done in this instance, that's when religion has gone too far.
Religious freedom is not about using one's position of civic power to impose one's moral beliefs on the entire community. Religious freedom is about allowing every person to believe what they believe. Religious freedom means no one religion is superior to any other faith or belief system.
For too long, so-called religious people have used their faith to deny the basic humanity of LGBT individuals.
There are some people who believe public officials have no obligation to respect the rights of all the citizens they serve, just those who hold similar religious beliefs.
This is nonsense. Public officials must represent all people. I hope this human rights complaint is successful.
Friday, August 24, 2007
All the candidates from across the province were there. Dalton was in excellent form. He spoke with great passion and humour, the kind which resonated so greatly on the campaign trail in 2003. This will be Dalton's third campaign as leader, which puts him at a decided advantage over John Tory. And judging from today's performance, Dalton will be pumped once the writ is officially dropped. October 10th will be our "date with destiny," he said to much applause.
The rally was very nicely orchestrated, showcasing some of the new candidates who are running for the first time. Ottawa Centre Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi spoke to the crowd about the important contributions of new Canadians in Ontario. Trinity-Spadina Liberal candidate and Liberals For MMP supporter Kate Holloway called Dalton McGuinty the "greenest Premier that Ontario has ever seen." Haliburton-Victoria-Brock Liberal candidate Rick Johnson (who just resigned as President of the Ontario Public School Boards Association) warned the crowd about John Tory's ill-conceived plan to take $500 million per year out of public education and put it into private religious schools. Cambridge Liberal candidate Kathryn McGarry, a nurse, talked about the Liberal commitment to stronger public health care.
I'm picking up on a few winning themes in the Ontario Liberal campaign: a stronger public education system, a stronger public health care system, a cleaner environment and keeping Ontario "moving forward, not backward."
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Kudos to Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, for ordering three masked men back from a line of riot police in Montebello, Que. on Monday.
About 1,200 protesters were in the small town near Ottawa as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at a two-day summit to discuss issues under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America pact.
This is the video that was posted on Youtube on Tuesday, which includes Coles confronting the mysterious masked men.
As you can see, three burly men covering their faces push through protesters toward a line of riot police. One of the men has a rock in his hand. As they move forward, Coles and other union leaders dressed in suits order the men to put the rock down and leave, accuse them of being police agent provocateurs, and try unsuccessfully to unmask them. In the end, the masked men squeeze behind the police line, where they are handcuffed.
"The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union believes that the security force at Montebello were ordered to infiltrate our peaceful assembly and to provoke incidents," Coles told reporters on Wednesday.
Photographs of the masked mens' and police officers' boots taken during the handcuffing, in which they appear to have identical tread patterns on their soles.
He also questioned why other activists have been unable to identify the three men whose images have been broadcast worldwide and demanded to know who the masked men were.
"Do they have any connection to the Quebec police force or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or are they part of some other security force that was at Montebello?" Coles asked, adding that he wants to know how the Prime Minister's Office was involved in security during the protests.
He suggested that the government might want to provoke violence in order to justify its security budget for the summit and discredit protesters.
"They want to defuse our questions...by trying to make it look like some radical group trying to create a confrontation," he said.
The RCMP has refused to comment, while Quebec's provincial force has flatly denied that its officers were involved in the incident. It said it is not releasing any names as no charges were laid.
If true, why do I get the feeling that Harper and Bush would approve of this type of police action?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
If the ruling holds up on appeal, it will mean for all practical purposes, same-sex marriage is legal in the state of New York because people can easily cross the border to get married, say observers.
Congrats to this dude with the video camera. Very amusing and appropriate. I entirely agree it's really sad these extremists bring their kids to these hateful protests. Truly sad.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Gay male fans of daytime TV finally got a piece of the action today. History was made on 'As The World Turns' today as the characters Luke and Noah (played by Van Hansis and Brad Silbermann) got a chance to finally kiss. I missed it, but this 'Entertainment Tonight' preview story shows us plenty. Congrats to the show, the actors and to CBS.
Just found this funny photo online.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper (right) passes in front of Opposition Leader Stephane Dion (centre) as they participate to the 28th Tintamarre acadien de Caraquet on Wednesday August 15, 2007.
"Although they never spoke to each other, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion joined the throngs of brightly costumed people as they paraded down the main street of Caraquet to mark Acadian Day."
Here's the CTV.ca story.
This story about the recent Ontario Conservative Leadership Foundation meeting is both funny and alarming.
For more information on Landmark Education, check out its Wikipedia page (assuming Tories haven't already doctored its contents.)
Royson James was bang-on with his assessment today of Howard Hampton's plans for cities.
Oh, to be a New Democrat under Howard Hampton! You can promise the world, engage in the most irresponsible rhetoric imaginable. And never have to deliver on it.
Remind me again why we have an NDP! Oh, yeah, to divide the progressive vote and make it easier for the Tories and their Landmark Education plans to win.
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I'm a big supporter of electoral reform, have been for years. FPTP has always disturbed me by the way it distorts the wishes of voters at election time.
Under FPTP, one party that wins, say, 40% of the vote can typically walk away with a majority government for four or five years. Even more disturbing, First-Past-The-Post has a history of handing the second place party a victory. This happened with the PQ in Quebec in 1998, the NDP in British Columbia in 1996 and the Liberals in New Brunswick in 2006.
It's difficult to listen to pro-First-Past-The-Post supporters argue about the importance of democratic representation when they themselves are supporting the current system which frequently distorts voters' wishes at election time.
Furthermore, it seems pro-FPTP supporters are now engaging in a campaign of misinformation about Mixed Member Proportional (no doubt to confuse voters into keeping the status quo.) This in unfortunate.
The NoMMP.ca website uses the following statement: "Who exactly do these list MPPs represent? MMP has no real answer. They sort of do not represent anyone, which means that there is less accountability and weaker democracy in Ontario."
Under the Citizens' Assembly proposal, so-called list MPPs (I prefer calling them province-wide candidates) will be elected province-wide. They will serve the entire province, not just one constituency. In addition to having local representation in one of the 90 constituencies under MMP, voters will also have 39 additional province-wide representatives to whom anyone in Ontario can turn for assistance. This is more representation, not less.
Check out this letter to the editor by MMP opponent Edelgard Mahant in the Cambridge Times.
In it, she writes: "The number of constituencies will be reduced to 90. This means that for people living in medium and small towns, such as Cambridge, their local MPP is likely to be far away and will not have time for their problems. And the 39 list MPPs in this model will mostly come from large urban areas, severely hurting rural areas."
Mahant has no problem stating as fact that province-wide candidates will mostly come from large urban areas. This is an absolute falsehood. She has no idea where most list candidates will come from. The MMP proposal leaves it up to parties to decide how to pick their province-wide candidates, creating a healthy competition between them to create the best list. But Mahant doesn't mind painting a false picture designed to mislead voters about MMP.
Liberal blogger Scott's DiaTribes had a great post on this issue when the NoMMP.ca campaign was launched.
In it, Scott wrote: "I am sorry to see that “No MMP” is resorting already to fear and smear. They are certainly within their rights to charge or to say they fear something COULD happen under MMP. but for them to come out and assertively say it WOULD happen, as they’ve done here with their opening press release, is a falsehood. I certainly hope this opening appalling statement isn't indicative of a pattern, and that they will at least try to be more honest in their arguments from here on in."
I couldn't agree more, Scott. Unfortunately, based on what we've seen thus far from the pro-FPTP folks, I'm not optimistic.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Another openly gay, high-profile Liberal is about to tie the knot.
Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison is set to wed his partner Maxime St. Pierre this weekend at a private ceremony at Mr. Brison’s Hants County home.
Former PM Paul Martin reportedly will be there, as will Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, NHL Hall of Fame goaltender and ex-cabinet minister Ken Dryden and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna.
However, these details aren't confirmed by the grooms themselves. Mr. Brison’s staff won’t reveal any details of the event and has sworn guests to secrecy. Mr. Brison’s office has declined comment on the wedding.
There's nothing wrong with a little privacy. If anything, it counters the assertion from some anti-gay folks that we homosexuals simply love flaunting our lifestyle inappropriately.
Brison has always had a very sensible approach to being "out of the closet." He's never made a big deal out of it, describing himself not as a gay politician, but as a "politician who happens to be gay."
He once told The Canadian Press that he would rather his marriage plans weren’t newsworthy at all. “I’m looking forward to the day when the idea of a gay or lesbian politician getting married is not a story at all," he said.
But for now, it's cause for more celebration. When any two people can commit themselves to the important institution of marriage, it's a great day indeed. Congrats to both Scott and Maxime! All the best!
Monday, August 13, 2007
Both great reads and worth checking out.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Now allow me the opportunity to respond to Somerville's flawed logic.
Somerville correctly states that both same-sex marriage and polygamy deviate significantly from the traditional, one-man-one-woman definition of marriage.
But they deviate in different ways. Same-sex marriage differs from traditional marriage based on the gender of the individuals involved.
Polygamy differs from traditional marriage based on the numbers of the individuals involved.
So yes, same-sex marriage and polygamy are different from traditional marriage, but different for very different reasons. Follow me?
But using Somerville's flawed reasoning, this means both same-sex marriage and polygamy are hopelessly wrong and must not be allowed (albeit, Somerville has used different reasons to reach these conclusions.)
This is phony reasoning. Our society has the right to change the definition of marriage to accommodate same sex couples and, in doing so, end the gender-specific requirements of the traditional definition.
This does not necessitate that we do away with the numerical requirements of the institution as well - namely allowing more than two people.
This may be the case in Somerville's mind, but in reality this is not true. It's sophistry.
It's like saying "All life is sacred, therefore all killing is wrong." But killing is an inevitable aspect of war, and most agree that sometimes war is necessary, therefore killing in war can be justified, unlike say killing for sadistic pleasure. But using Somerville's reasoning technique, both killing in war and killing for pleasure deviate from the original maxim that "All life is sacred". Both are equally wrong. We'd therefore have to conclude that killing in war is unacceptable. Any deviation from the original maxim cannot be tolerated regardless of the unique circumstances and reasons for the deviation.
In the past, Somerville has warned that same-sex marriage jeopardizes children's rights to be raised by and to know their biological parents. I've never been able to understand exactly how a same-sex couple's ability to marry somehow caused other children never to know their parents.
To understand where Somerville is coming from, it helps to understand that much of her work has been anchored in Catholic natural law tradition.
On this issue, she has always struck me as someone who established her conclusion first (same sex marriage is wrong based on my religious beliefs) and then went about creating arguments that backed up that conclusion.
Using the "children" argument, as she does, has a special amount of sentimentality as it tugs at the heartstrings of most parents. "Your children are threatened by homosexuals," is Somerville's basic message. Where have we heard that one before?
By disallowing same-sex marriage in law, the country was discriminating based on sexual orientation, which was banned under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
By disallowing polygamy, no one is facing discrimination, as far as I can tell. The ban applies to everyone.
There are some, including Somerville, who argue that the ban on polygamy could be a violation of the Charter's freedom of religion provisions. The only way to find out for sure is for individuals in polygamous marriages to take their cases to court and fight for their rights, just as gays and lesbians were forced to do.
After assessing the other crucial issues at stake, like the inherent oppression of women in polygamous marriages, intergenerational abuse, brainwashing, etc., would the Supreme Court rule that laws banning polygamy are a violation of freedom of religion and therefore must be struck down? We can only speculate. Based on previous Supreme Court rulings, I find it hard to believe they would rule in such a way. But of course that is an argument for another day.
Somerville has been on a mission for years arguing against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. She's travelled hundreds of miles to appear before numerous parliamentary committees, written countless papers and columns (and is still writing them), given speeches. All to argue that the rights of same-sex couples to equal marriage somehow violate a child's ability to know his or her parents.
Why is Somerville so obsessed with attacking same-sex marriage? Are there no other ethical issues that need attention? I guess only Somerville knows for sure.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I must admit that the National Post is starting to become more fair and well-rounded in its coverage than the Toronto Star often seems. I think I'll have to add the National Post to my News Link list on the right.
There are some Muslims who have commented on this site that the MCC is a fringe group in the greater Muslim-Canadian community with no credibility. Based on how reasonable this column reads, I hope that isn't true.
EXCERPT FROM NATIONAL POST COLUMN BY FARZANA HASSAN AND SALMA SIDDIQUI TODAY:
"...In some Muslim schools, girls must pray behind boys, and segregation based on gender is advocated as a religious duty. This is obviously in conflict with Canadian norms...
Advocates of public funding argue that such funding would ensure that private schools will be subject to more governmental oversight. They assert that extremism will be discouraged because curricula will be closely vetted. This ignores the reality that values within schools are rarely taught through formal curricula. Rather, it is the school culture which plays a dominant role in imparting values to children.
If Mr. Tory's proposal leads to the funding of conservative Islamic schools, then Ontario taxpayers will be subsidizing an indoctrination program that treats Muslim girls as second-class citizens. Because faith-based education would become cheaper, and therefore more accessible for Muslim families, more Muslim children will attend religious schools, and therefore have less contact with other Canadians. In the mosques, a new generation of young Muslims will come to embrace a more orthodox and archaic understanding of Islam.
Ontario would do better to gear its policies toward greater integration of ethnic and religious communities. Funding private religious schools will not advance diversity, which is best promoted in the public school system. There, children of all backgrounds can prepare to live together under a common set of Canadian values."
Let's not forget the Conservatives made 5.6 billion lies in the 2003 campaign - the true amount of the deficit they said was balanced. Now John Tory says he can cut $2.6 billion from the health care budget through "greater efficiencies" and fund private religious schools to the sum of $500 million per year. Who is he kidding?
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Just when you thought we were alive, well and living in 2007, we get an awful reminder from out east that queer folk remain quite unwelcome or unappreciated in some parts of Canada.
The story this week about Truro, Nova Scotia mayor Bill Mills (pictured) is truly disturbing. Truro is a town of about 45,000 north of Halifax.
Mills refused to fly the gay pride flag at city hall for this week's celebrations, saying doing so would promote a lifestyle that conflicts with his religious views - and most of the town's council backed him.
"There are writings in the book of Romans chapter one, to name a few - basically I have to go with that conviction, and I know it's not a popular one," Mayor Mills told the press.
Wow, to hear a public official make such a statement in 2007 in Canada! Your religious views allow you to discriminate against other human beings?
The mayor insisted, as a Christian, he has a right to his opinions, and he stands behind his decision.
"The mayor of Truro has embarrassed a lot of Christians by interpreting the bible in a very unfavourable way," said Rev. David Fletcher, an Anglican priest. "If we want to shout bible passages back and forth, my bible bullet would come from Galatians in Chapter 3, where St. Paul says that in Christ, there is no more exclusion."
This whole thing reminds me of Toronto in the 1980s when former mayor Art Eggleton refused to proclaim Gay Pride Day in Canada's largest city. Toronto's Gay Pride, which now brings millions into the city in tourism dollars every year, wasn't officially sanctioned by the city until Eggleton left office in 1991.
The same thing happened in London, Ontario in the 1990s where former mayor Dianne Haskett seemed to have difficulty leaving her religion out of her politics. Many Londoners believed her religious views against homosexuality influenced her decision to refuse to recognize Gay Pride in her city.
Richard Hudler, president of the Homophile Association of London, Ontario (HALO), filed an official complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1995 against Haskett and London City Council. In 1997, the Commission ruled that the City of London and Mayor Haskett had discriminated against HALO in the provision of a municipal service. Both the City of London and Haskett were fined $5,000.
Can a city or town refuse to proclaim a service (such as officially recognizing Gay Pride Day) because of the religious beliefs of council members?
Well, legal precedent clearly indicates a loud 'No'. This is Canada where public servants are supposed to respect the rights of all, not just those who share their religious views. We are a pluralistic society where respect for diversity is supposed to be paramount, or so I thought. I also thought most people, even the religious, recognized the importance of the division of church and state.
Apparently not in Truro, Nova Scotia. How shameful, indeed.
It's great to see that this ill-advised refusal by council has inspired a huge backlash in the community.
I'm sure this isn't the last we've heard of this story.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I just wanted to send out a hearty congratulations to both George Smitherman and Christopher Peloso on their wedding yesterday.
George is my MPP and I'm proud of his successes as our riding's representative at Queen's Park and as Minister of Health in the McGuinty government since 2003. We look very much forward to many more years of excellent representation, George.
All the best to you both!
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I don't normally agree with Goldstein on a number of issues, but I have to commend him for such an unbiased and fair assessment. He went to the trouble of reading both Linda Diebel's 'Stephane Dion, Against the Current,' published earlier this year, as well as Dion's own collection of essays 'Straight Talk,' published in 1999.
Supporters of Stephane Dion have always known how tough he is. That's why the Conservative bull-sh*t message this year that Dion is "weak" continues to sound completely dishonest. The public will soon catch up with the truth.
The most revealing part of Goldstein's column is at the end. I had never heard of this anecdote as I'll admit I haven't yet read, 'Against the Current.' I can assure you I'll be reading it very soon.
EXCERPT FROM GOLDSTEIN'S COLUMN:
"The most revealing anecdote, however, is in Diebel's book -- an interview with Stephane Dion's mother, Denyse, recalling the 1997 death of Stephane's father, Leon, a decade later.
Leon Dion, a respected political scientist in Quebec, died in a horrible drowning accident at home.
Recalling the tragedy, Denyse Dion describes with contempt articles in the media and separatist talk hinting her husband's death was the result of his shame and disappointment over his son becoming the chief Liberal federalist spokesman in Quebec. "There were people who said he drowned himself because his son went into politics," Denyse angrily notes, calling them "idiots."
Think about that. At that time Stephane Dion -- who had followed his father's footsteps into academia -- was a political neophyte, whom the separatists were calling the most hated man in Quebec.
He was being depicted as a rat. Then his father, whom he clearly loved, dies in a terrible accident and his critics imply his father committed suicide because of him?
Never mind that Leon Dion wasn't a separatist and was proud of his son. What a cheap shot.
Even a strong person might understandably have said, "who needs this?" and retreated from politics.
Dion stayed. And fought.
To any Conservative (or Liberal) who thinks this guy isn't tough enough to be prime minister, maybe you'd better think again.