Monday, June 27, 2005

The problem with Harper's math

As many have already noted, Steven Harper stuck his foot in it this afternoon by suggesting that the law that is about to grant marriage rights to gays is somehow less valid because it is being supported by the Bloc (see here). As it is, the vote will probably be 166-142 (see here). Let's look at the breakdown.

ROC 101 132
Quebec (Bloc) 47 7
Quebec (Liberal) 18 3
Total 166 142
If the Bloc were not voting, he points out, ssm-marriage would not pass. But if the Bloc did not exist, there would be other MPs in their place, and given that support for ssm-marriage is higher in Quebec than in any other province, we can assume that these notional MPs would have voted not much differently than the Bloc did.

And this, of course, is the other irony. Many of the Bloc are old Tories--part of the Mulroney coalition that went so disastrously wrong. If the Bloc did not exist, the Conservative vote on ssm would not be so one-sided. Indeed, it probably would more closely reflect the division in the country as a whole. But that itself is a problem. Most polls on this legislation suggest that Canadians are split 50-50 on the law. The Conservatives are 95-3.

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