Thursday, July 31, 2008

Was "Vote Marriage, Canada!" only astroturf, then?

The last election saw a final, last-ditch effort from social conservatives to overturn the introduction of same-sex marriage in Canada, part of which involved an organization effort on the part of socially conservative activists.

One part of this effort was Vote Marriage, Canada!, headed by retiring MPs Pat O'Brien (a Liberal) and Grant Hill (a Conservative).

Not all went smoothly. There was a delay in settling on a final name for their effort and getting their website up (see here). (The website itself can be seen at Once they were operational, however, they made a good bit of noise, endorsing over 100 candidates in the election.

Vote Marriage made some grand claims during that election, including the announcement that 20,000 had signed into his site as volunteers. Some observed that Vote Marriage only supported Conservatives. Others mused darkly that there may have been financial support coming from American religious figures.

It was, apparently, smoke and mirrors: part astroturf and part Potemkin village.

As a third-party participant, Vote Marriage was compelled to file an account of their advertising expenses at Elections Canada. You can go there now (here) to see what Vote Marriage actually accomplished. There you will see what I've copied in the screen-capture to the right: no contributors, no contributions, and no advertising. Nada. Zilch. Gar nichts. Niente. Rien.

This is, however, too often the case with social conservative causes in Canada, whose supporters seem too ready to repeat what is untrue, half-true, exaggerated, or misleadingly selective. There are the diploma-mill doctorates of McVety and Rushfeldt, the fake polling of KLRVU, exaggerations about opposition to the Morgentaler award, inflated attendance at their demonstrations (400 or 1000?), endless and open freeping, etc. A seemingly endless stream of righteous lies and pious exaggeration.

Why is this noteworthy? One should expect activists to be active and to do what is necessary to advance their cause. But surely one expects those whose self-styled motivations are religious to show a passing interest in truth. Or maybe not. They claim to believe that knowing the truth will set them free. Telling it, apparently, brings them no advantage.