Saturday, January 28, 2006

Harper will be to ssm what Mulroney was to the death penalty

Over at the Ambler, Kevin Grace, while critiquing some thoughts of mine on whether there was a socon-effect in some ridings, made an interesting statement:
I have it on unimpeachable authority that Harper never cared much about SSM and was shocked when it became a popular outrage.
Others have assumed as much (here); I don't doubt it.

One point that could be added is the effect that this will have on the issue for the future.

I'm not sure how many of my blogging friends are old enough to remember the politics of the late-70s and early 80s. One issue that especially animated conservatives back then was the death penalty. It hadn't been used in Canada since 1962 and was voted off the books in 1976. Conservatives used it as a wedge issue to good effect, and when Mulroney was elected with a majority in 1984, many hoped that it would to re-introduced. It was not to be the case. In a free-vote in 1987, capital punishment was rejected, never to re-appear as a serious issue.

I argued a couple days ago that there are not enough votes in the house to overturn same-sex marriage (see here).

It seems to me that net effect of Harper's coming free-vote will be, barring some unexpected gamesmanship (cf. here), that the issue is laid to rest forever.


Reality Bites said...

OK, I can't resist asking... when you say "Harper will be to ssm what Mulroney was to the death penalty" did you mean to imply that most Canadians will someday wish to see it imposed on Harper? ;)

nitangae said...

This is a propos some of your earlier posts. Whether or not support or opposition to ssm helps or hinders a candidate, it wouldn't seem that support for ssm is a vital matter. A substantially rural (and small city) riding such as Kings-Hants can vote for a gay MP with marriage plans without too much trouble, despite the fact that the riding is traditionally conservative. Nor has ssm hurt Prentice (although I expect that it would have hurt him in Medicine Hat).

Let us hope that it passes Parliament once more. Then we can put the subject to rest.


Kevin Brennan said...

The main difference I can see is that Mulroney actually opposed the death penalty (in public, no less) but felt compelled to hold a free vote for political reasons. If memory serves, he originally didn't want to re-open the issue.