|Montréal, 10 juin 2000 / No 63||
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
Again in the past couple of weeks, groups or individuals supporting CA leadership contender Stockwell Day have accused his rival Tom Long of harbouring
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
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
Ironically, I even found myself on the side of the so-called
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.
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.
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
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:
Le Québec libre des
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