Montréal, 10 juin 2000  /  No 63
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Martin Masse est directeur du QL. La page du directeur
     Le QUÉBÉCOIS LIBRE est publié sur la Toile depuis le 21 février 1998.
     Il  défend la liberté individuelle, l'économie de marché et la coopération volontaire comme fondement des relations sociales.
     Il s'oppose à l'interventionnisme étatique et aux idéologies collectivistes, de gauche comme de droite, qui visent à enrégimenter les individus.
     Les articles publiés partagent cette philosophie générale mais les opinions spécifiques qui y sont exprimées n'engagent que leurs auteurs.
by Martin Masse
          Divisions on the political Right between conservatives, libertarians and wishy washy moderates usually revolve around the issue of abortion in the USA but in Canada, more often, these factions argue over the topic of homosexuality. The question pops up almost every day in the papers, either because a new judgement by our overactive courts has awarded another set of « rights » to gays and lesbians, or because some religious fundamentalist yahoo has made another outrageous declaration that threatens the nice image of the newly created Canadian Alliance. 
          Again in the past couple of weeks, groups or individuals supporting CA leadership contender Stockwell Day have accused his rival Tom Long of harbouring « self-proclaimed gays », « gay activists » or « pro-gay people » in his organisational team. Shocking, shocking. That, they say, means he is not serious about protecting traditional family values. 
          Although the Day team has denied any link with those making these comments, his opponents in the Long and Manning camps are accusing him of playing into the hand of those who would like to portray the Alliance as intolerant, as they have succeeded rather well in doing for the defunct Reform Party. Tory MP Scott Brison said for example that « Being a gay Reformer is like being a rabbi in the PLO » (The National Post, May 26). Is it really? 
Zero-sum games 
          If you believe solutions to political and social problems are zero-sum games where only one side can reap all the benefits, I suppose that's an apt comparison. Until the Middle-East peace process achieved concrete results some years ago, radicals on both sides wanted either that Israel occupy the whole area and expel the Arabs, or that the PLO dump the Jews in the Mediterranean. State power is usually based on uniformity and exclusion. Throughout history, one state often meant the subjugation, discrimination or outright destruction of groups that didn't fit in; in this case, two states or semi-states (Israel and the Palestinian Administration) at least allow for coexistence.
          Seen from another angle, the problem is not the fact that there is only one state, but that there is a state at all and that people want to use it to impose their own solution on a pluralistic society. Should the state sanction gay marriage, provide social benefits to same-sex couples and outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? Or should it promote a traditional view of human relations and try to discourage acceptance of homosexuality? If you see the alternatives in these terms, there is of course no compromise possible. And the Canadian Alliance cannot but be torn apart, with a socially conservative wing and a socially liberal wing fighting it out to impose their view on the party and ultimately on the government if it ever gets there. 
          But if you believe the state has no business deciding if homosexuality is normal or an evil, then there is a potential for coexistence between people who have opposite moral views. That was how I interpreted Reform philosophy when I joined it in 1995, despite the party's widespread image of « intolerance ». I did not feel like a rabbi joining the PLO. I got involved – working in the newly opened Montreal office for the next two years – simply because I supported Reform's policies of decentralization and small government and thought they should be promoted in Quebec, a place where one-size-fits-all state solutions are particularly popular. 
          Ironically, I even found myself on the side of the so-called « intolerants » when two MP's were expelled in the spring of 1996 for making controversial comments about gays. Bob Ringma got into trouble when he said you could send a black or gay employee to the back of the shop if he drove customers away; and David Chatters when he said that religious schools should be allowed to discriminate against homosexual staff. I saw and still see nothing wrong with the political and legal principle underlying these comments. 
          A manager should have the right to shuffle personnel in order to protect his business if his contract with his employees allows him to do so, whatever the reason. You need not agree with the morality of his action – or with the stupidity of customers who would be offended by the presence of a black or gay clerk – in order to defend this right, you simply have to recognize that property rights and voluntary contracts are the basis of a free society and that in a free society, people who are not satisfied with the way things are somewhere will find lots of opportunities elsewhere. 
          In the same way, I find it perfectly normal that a private religious institution will want to hire staff who conform to the values being taught there. The reverse should of course be true: secular parents who don't want their kids to hear about what they consider religious nonsense and who don't object to the use of books that portray homosexuality in a positive light should be able to have that choice, which may imply discrimination against religious fundamentalist teachers. The problem exists only because the state is involved in the business of education and wants to impose one curriculum and one official ideology on everybody. Privatize the schools, let parents choose what kind of education they want their kids to receive, and the problem will be gone. 
     « Religious traditionalists are right to protest that they are being forced to subsidize and promote something which they find repugnant. They should be allowed to believe what they want about gays and the satanical nature of homosexual acts, and to act accordingly on their property and in their private institutions. »  
          Should same-sex couples have access to pensions like heterosexual couples, as courts and governments have decided recently? That problem would likewise not exist if pensions were a private service like insurance instead of being a government run program. The market as a whole is neutral when it comes to values. Some companies might play it safe, but others would see that they can make a profit by offering them, just like many other goods and services are now being targeted specifically to gays and lesbians. 
          Should « gay marriage » be recognized by the law? Why does it have to? Churches can decide if it is theologically appropriate for them to bless these unions, but the state doesn't need to know if the nature of a contract between me and another person is based on a « gay » relationship or not. What the law has to do is uphold the contract, not decide if it is morally acceptable. The problem exists only because governments insist on regulating marriage in innumerable ways instead of treating it as a private matter between two consenting individuals. 
The new gay intolerance 
          On these issues and others, the gay lobby has in fact become the side supporting official intolerance. And religious traditionalists are right to protest that they are being forced to subsidize and promote something which they find repugnant. They should be allowed to believe what they want about gays and the satanical nature of homosexual acts, and to act accordingly on their property and in their private institutions. 
          What they should not be allowed to do however is to impose their beliefs on everybody else and on gays themselves. From the perspective of a successful right-wing political coalition – and that of a coherent support for individual liberty –, the solution is not to reverse the trend and have the state defend traditional values again. The solution is simple: get the state out of the way and let each live according to his or her values and associate and contract with whomever he or she wants. This will protect not only gays and lesbians from discrimination, but also religious conservatives who have seen their way of life attacked for decades by interventionist governments promoting secular values. 
          Mr. Brison would have us believe that there can be no coexistence between the factions in the Canadian Alliance, and that the social moderates should leave it and join his party. I could never do that, however « tolerant » this party is towards gays. The PCs still propose to solve every problem with state intervention and uniform bureaucratic solutions and, as a libertarian, that's where I would feel like a rabbi in the PLO. 
          The perceived division within the CA is overblown. After the first incident when an anti-abortion group denounced members of the Tom Long campaign, Stockwell Day said: « I believe in limited government and what people do in their private lives is their private business. » Then, the second time, his campaign manager Jason Kenney said Mr. Day's campaign includes « everybody from socially conservative Muslims, Jews and Christians to gay libertarians and Quebec nationalists. » They mean it. This may come as a surprise to the bigots, but there are also gay and « pro-gay » people in the Day organization, I know some of them. Mr. Day's private fundamentalist beliefs are irrelevant. His small government message is the only relevant one and if he and the other candidates stick to it, there is a chance we will get this peace process under way. 
Articles précédents de Martin Masse
Le Québec libre des nationalo-étatistes  
        « Après avoir pris ainsi tour à tour dans ses puissantes mains chaque individu, et l'avoir pétri à sa guise, le souverain étend ses bras sur la société tout entière; il en couvre la surface d'un réseau de petites règles compliquées, minutieuses et uniformes, à travers lesquelles les esprits les plus originaux et les âmes les plus vigoureuses ne sauraient faire jour pour dépasser la foule; il ne brise pas les volontés, mais il les amollit, les plie et les dirige; il force rarement d'agir, mais il s'oppose sans cesse à ce qu'on agisse; il ne détruit point, il empêche de naître; il ne tyrannise point, il gêne, il comprime, il énerve, il éteint, il hébète, et il réduit enfin chaque nation à n'être plus qu'un troupeau d'animaux timides et industrieux, dont le gouvernement est le berger. »    

Alexis de Tocqueville   

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