Thursday, January 12, 2012

POOF! Your rights are gone?

Very disturbing, but not surprising. Stephen Harper and his over-bloated PMO control every aspect of federal government policy. So Harper expects us to believe he doesn't know anything about this case or the revised government position that same sex couples from most foreign countries can't get married in Canada? I don't believe a word he says on this issue.

It seems when this government doesn't agree with a policy but doesn't have the guts to legislate (such as on environmental protection), they just take a stealth approach to undermine the law, like firing civil servants and scientists to ensure those environmental protections can never be enforced.

The Harper government clearly doesn't have the guts to revisit equal marriage in the elected House of Commons. But it clearly has no problem taking the position that the marriages of same sex couples who came to Canada from other countries are not valid if such marriages aren't allowed back home.

This is how this sneaky PM operates, in the shadows. All of us - including the thousands of foreign couples who travelled to Canada and put down money to get a Canadian marriage license in good faith - were all under the impression that same sex couples regardless of citizenship could marry in Canada. Now this new interpretation of the law?

I wonder if the government will start treating other groups this way? If your rights are denied back home, Canada must do the same here? Will Harper treat women from Saudi Arabia this way now too? If you're from Saudi Arabia and you're a woman, you can't drive a car in Canada?

This new position by the federal government means that foreign countries are dictating how Canada treats LGBT people when they visit our country, not Canadians. Everyone should be losing sleep over this.

The government needs to act now to change any laws that need to be changed to respect the marriages of all those thousands of couples who came here to marry.

********UPDATE January 13, 2012****************

The media frenzy on Thursday over this issue has pushed the Harper government to clarify its position on same sex marriages performed in Canada for couples who live in other jurisdictions where such marriages are not recognized.

“We want to make it very clear that in our government’s view, these marriages should be valid,” a senior government official said on Friday. “That’s why we will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in the couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada.”

I'm very glad that the large Issues Management team in the Harper PMO is effective enough to react so quickly to a public relations nightmare. From the many discussions I had on this topic yesterday, it does appear the Department of Justice lawyer in the divorce case in question was more than likely expressing a legalistic position in keeping with longstanding international comity rather than participating in a political conspiracy to undermine same sex marriage in Canada. Although now the government seems to disagree with its own lawyer on the validity of such marriages. Nevertheless, this clarity is much appreciated.

3 comments:

bendouwsma said...

Harper seems to be trying to pander to his base while paying lip-service to something that more and more people are supportive of. Not so much evil as politically cowardly.

But people I know are paying for his cowardice, and as you mentioned, if he takes that tactic with one issue, it has all these unforeseen implications regarding other rights.

Fred from BC said...

So that 'Update' is your version of an apology, then? Because you failed to consider that it was the Liberals who introduced this *flawed* same-sex legislation originally, and the Conservatives who will now fix it?

We accept your apology. Next time think before you post, okay?

Matt Guerin said...

I don't have a law degree, so the flaws in media reporting of this issue yesterday weren't immediately apparent to me. But there was great confusion caused this government lawyer's argument in court. Today, glad that the government had backtracked and declared it doesn't support the argument its lawyer made.

I'll apologize for my post as soon as you apologize, Fred, for your excessive rudeness, ignorance and arrogance. I have to assume you didn't think before you posted your comment.