Monday, June 27, 2005

Harper appeals to socially conservative immigrants

Over at The Amazing Wonderdog, Skippy notes that Harper's choice to be in Toronto on Pride weekend, but avoid the parade and instead went to a Muslim convention where he spoke in defence of traditional marriage.

For the newsstory, see here):
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told a Muslim convention in Mississauga that the Liberals are in league with the NDP and Bloc Québécois to erase the traditional concept of marriage.

"You believe, I believe, most Canadians believe that the traditional institution of marriage should be recognized and respected in law," Mr. Harper said. "Unfortunately, the Liberal government doesn't believe this. It is working with their allies in the NDP and the separatists to attack these beliefs and to abolish the traditional institution of marriage."
This makes some strategic sense: the ssm-marriage issue at least theoretically provided Harper with the opportunity of improving their share of the immigrant vote in Ontario.

But all signs are this hasn't worked. Why? In the comments to Skippy's post, Greg of Sinister Thoughts makes a perspicacious observation:
Harper got a polite reception [at the Muslim convention] but his message was not overwhelmingly endorsed. In fact the crowd seemed to have agreed more with Joe Volpe's message of group rights and tolerance.
And here, I suspect, is the rub. A country that will give equal rights to homosexuals is a country where every minority has a chance at equal rights. If we refuse to tolerate gays--a member of any other minority might ask--whose rights will be compromised next?

In addition, I think that this dynamic has special resonance in the post-9/11 world. There was an anti-Muslim backlash following September 11th, and many Muslims were made to feel insecure about their place here. This insecurity, I suspect, decreases any desire on their part to undermine the rights of others.

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