Sometimes I disagree
One of the challenges in writing a weekly column is finding topics of interest for which there is enough material to bang out a thousand words or so. Often an issue comes to light that I would like to comment on but cannot fill a complete article in doing just that. So today, I have decided to deal with a few of these matters that are only somewhat related but still worth talking about.
I make no apologies for being a middle-of-the-road Conservative. That is who I am. But I am not blind, and I am not afraid to speak out when I believe that politicians whom I would generally support and will likely continue to vote for make serious mistakes or condone something I fundamentally disagree with. In fact, I believe it is important to do so. We should hold all elected people accountable and not just those we don’t like. Here are two recent examples that have bothered me.
There are many things, in my view, that Premier Doug Ford has done right, including his balanced management of the COVID-19 pandemic which in partnership with the Trudeau Government and the other provinces and territories in Canada has meant that this country, on a per capita basis, has been two-and-a-half times more effective in dealing with the virus and saving lives than our neighbours immediately to the south.
But why oh why, in the middle of all of this, did Premier Ford, apparently discounting concern expressed by his caucus, have to introduce legislation that would convey university status to Canada Christian College, whose President, Charles McVety, is described by the Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn, as “notoriously homophobic and Islamophobic”? Why now and, for that matter, why at all?
Canada Christian College specifies that students must refrain from practises that are biblically condemned. In today’s double-speak we all know what that specifically refers to. We live in a multicultural country and, in my view, no matter what our personal views may be, no government should provide credibility in any fashion to institutions who discriminate against any part of our society acting within the law. To that end, I believe that Premier Ford’s proposed legislation to grant university status to Canada Christian College is wrong, ill-considered, and a politically unwise strategy.
My second issue, somewhat connected to the first, is a small bone I have to pick with federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.
Last week, the Trudeau Government introduced legislation to effectively ban and criminalize conversion therapy which is primarily a process intended to change homosexual behaviour to heterosexual behaviour. It received approval in principal by a vote of 308 to 7.
To Mr. O’Toole’s credit, he voted in favour of the government’s motion, but because he allowed a free vote, seven members of his caucus voted against it, two abstained, and some others, including former leader Andrew Scheer, just stayed away.
Conservative Member of Parliament Eric Duncan, who has acknowledged that he is gay, has said conversion therapy is “a terrible, inhumane, dangerous practice” that needs to come to an end. I agree with him on all counts.
Except under extraordinary circumstances, I do not believe that people choose their sexuality. Certainly I didn’t, and I would be appalled and frightened if someone tried to make me change. It is part of who I am. It is the way I came. I can’t imagine that a person who happens to be LGBTQ would feel any differently in terms of their own situation. How a person deals with their sexuality, whatever it is, is another matter, but again within the law it is their business and not ours.
Conversion therapy, in my view, is repugnant, discriminatory, and cruel. It has no place, no matter how small, in the Conservative Party, and I believe Erin O’Toole should have made that crystal clear by insisting on a whipped vote for this particular legislation.
I recognize that my views here are controversial. Indeed, I intend them to be and that is one of the reasons I write a weekly column. I enjoy debate, I enjoy stirring things up, and most of all I appreciate the comments we receive on Listen Up, the vast majority of which are a thoughtful contribution to a healthy conversation. Often they disagree with what I have written. I expect and appreciate that. It is called dialogue!
I must admit, however, to frustration at times when a comment does not address the merit of an opinion, but rather disagrees with it because someone else at some other time did it too. Sometimes it reminds me of my childhood, excusing something I did wrong by crying that my sister did it too! Usually, I did not get away with that!
In relation to this article, I expect that some will question why I single out one particular college when they believe other colleges and universities practise discrimination as well. Again, that may be true but it doesn’t change the facts related to this particular institution.
I also know that some may question how I can call myself a Conservative, or for that matter a Christian, for what I have written here. I do hope they are wrong on both counts! I am pretty sure I know who I am, but I look forward to the conversation!
Sometimes it is important to disagree with people who you support—and with whom you often do agree—when you believe they are wrong. In my view, it creates a balance and perhaps even a correction which under other circumstances might be missing.
There is nothing wrong with that.
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