Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh Gawd it Burns!

There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to take a stand.  He has to rise up, raise his voice and loudly proclaim “I am not going to take it anymore!”  Chest and jaw thrust out in a manly fashion, he must shake his fist and rail at the injustice of it all.  He must lobby friends and family, reach out to strangers, and find a way to have his message heard.

This is not that time.  That time is tomorrow, or maybe Thursday of next week… maybe I should hold off until summer, when I have had some time to really think it over.

But while I am thinking that over, I do have a favour to ask of you - please stop making me defend Stephen Harper!  People need to do some damned research before blindly following the lemmings off the cliff. If you are a member of the fifth estate, please check your frigging facts before you print / display them for people to see.

Whew.  I feel better all ready.

Twice in the last week I have had to explain to people that while Harper may be the physical incarnation of all that is wrong with Canadian society he isn’t actually saying or doing the things they are talking about. recently began sending around a petition (you may have seen it on your Facebook page) to “Save Jasper National Park” and stated that they were rallying support to prevent the “Harper government” from “[privatizing] a section of the national park.”  The website picked up on it, and sent it around again.  As of this writing, the Avaaz petition has 136,804 signatures, just 13,196 shy of their goal.

What's the catch you say?  Why is this a problem for you SRD you ask?  Well, Harper isn’t privatizing anything.  He probably hadn’t even heard of this issue before he saw it on his morning briefing when Avaaz ran with it.  Here are the facts:
·         There are hundreds, maybe thousands of privatized businesses, facilities and locations within the Jasper National Park already.  Marmot Basin, the ski hill that over three million people a year visit and the primary reason that the town of Jasper doesn't dry up and blow away in the winter, is privately owned – all the ski resorts in the Rockies are.  Every bar, hotel, resort, sled dog company and tour company that operates there is privately owned.
·         The development in question is being forwarded by a company that, while not Canadian owned, has been doing business in Jasper for over 80 years, that has its headquarters in Jasper, and that employs Canadians every day of the year.
·         The Harper government, and federal politicians in general, have little to no influence in this area.  The proposal will be veted by Parks Canada staff and management.  Had this not become a media issue, federal politicians would never even know it existed.

I lost a lot of respect for Avaaz when they started that one, but not nearly as much respect as I’ve lost for the media (and the sheep who don’t ask questions) over the latest Harper-bash.

At a recent media conference in Halifax, where Harper was raking in the political credit for the recent twenty five billion dollar ship deal, he was asked a question by one of the reporters about a recent court case involving a same-sex couple.  It seems that this particular couple, who do not live in Canada, journeyed here to get married.  When they returned to their home, their marriage was not recognized – their nation (not to point any fingers) does not recognize the basic right to wed for same sex couples.  They didn’t care – they were married and happy and they knew they were married, even if the state didn’t.  Until that went south, and they became very unhappy.  So much so that they wanted to get a divorce. 

They came back to the land of Beaver Tails and curling and attempted to start divorce proceedings.  Where a Department of Justice lawyer informed the court that they may well not qualify for a divorce, not because their marriage wasn’t valid in Canada, but because international law (which the fantastic LGTBQ advocate and lawyer Kevin Kindred said all too well in a recent post) generally states that a “vacation wedding” is only really valid if the couple’s home nation / state recognizes it and it has been that way for over a hundred years. That would be the same answer whether the couple was a man and a woman, two women or two men and would have been the answer regardless which political party was in charge. Hell, it would be the answer in most, if not all, other countries of the world as well.

Now, very few states don’t recognize “straight” marriage, so this is really only an issue for gay couples, but it isn’t because of anything the Harper government said or did, and it can’t be taken as any indication that the dreaded Harper government is trying to reopen the gay marriage issue – it was a lawyer, doing their job and pointing out to the court that the law may not permit what the judge is being asked to do.  Furthermore, it wouldn’t have come up had the couple been resident in Canada for a year prior to the application – it only applies to people who get married in Canada, and then don’t live here.

There are also practical reasons to have a law like that – court proceedings cost a lot of taxpayer money.  Clerks and administrative staff have to accept and file the documents, judges will be involved, databases will have to be updated, etc. etc.  If you are not paying into that tax base (i.e. you are in a “vacation marriage”) then maybe it shouldn’t be so easy to get the divorce here… but that’s another argument.

Should the law change?  Probably – as I said, it really only does matter to gay people getting married, and thus it has a disproportionate effect on them – why not clean it up while we have the chance.

But does this have anything to do with Harper?  No.  Not one iota.  He may be evil incarnate, but he isn’t behind everything.

I know, the lefties (and I am on that side of the spectrum) love to have a target to vent their spleens at.  And Harper makes a very attractive target, I’ll admit. But blaming him for everything is going too far.  And the comparisons to Hitler and Stalin?  Come on folks, those have to stop if you want to retain any shred of credibility.

So the next time you hear that Stephen Harper is trying to pass a law making it illegal to adopt a child not of your ethnicity, or is suggesting that we eat old people instead of chicken, check your source, and then check your facts.  We live in a world of constant and immediately accessible information.  Use it.

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