Monday, December 19, 2005

Two tier democracy

Paul Martin says we must have higher expectations of our PM than we do of our MPs. The Prime Minister must not contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- but individual MPs are welcome to their own 'vision'.

It's funny, but he didn't think all of his MPs were entitled to their own 'vision' when he imposed his vision on Cabinet Ministers and made them vote with him on same-sex marriage under threat of expulsion.

That the same-sex marriage issue has exposed the 'bigoted', 'ignorant', 'regressive' opinions of individual MPs who represent the Liberal Party, doesn't phase Mr. Martin. Their rejection of the 'Charter' is not a worry to him because only HE is obligated to uphold the Charter -- but then, if Mr. Martin accepts candidates who believe that certain Canadians are not entitled to Charter protection -- is he really defending the Charter? It would appear that in his rush to vilify Mr. Harper, Mr. Martin has illuminated the dark secret of the Liberal Party -- some Canadians who are represented by Liberals, are represented by people who would not stand up for their 'Charter rights.'

From the Toronto Star:

Last spring, 34 Liberal MPs voted for a Conservative motion that would have halted Liberal legislation to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Martin brushed aside the apparent contradiction, saying, "The issue is not what does an individual MP say — an individual MP is entitled to his or her vision. "The issue is what is the role and responsibility of the prime minister of the country. And the role of the prime minister of the country is to support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it is not in any way, shape or form to call the Charter into doubt, that's the fundamental difference."

The inconsistency of his position seems to be lost on Martin. Apparently, he doesn't understand that in this twisted view of the world, he would actually be 'defending the Charter' from his own MPs. And if these men and women are against fundamental Charter rights for a segment of the population -- then how does he justify allowing them to serve under his party's banner?

Could it be that Martin knows in his heart that the issue of same-sex marriage -- far from being a Charter issue -- is actually a legislative issue. His assertion that same-sex marriage is a Charter right goes out the window with his acceptance of any members of his caucus voting against it. A right is a right, and if Martin truly believed that gay marriage was a 'right' he couldn't allow dissent on the issue.

Martin has proved this weekend that he doesn't even believe what he says on the same-sex issue, but it provides him with the ammunition to call Stephen Harper all sorts of names: 'unfit' 'regressive' and to spout off about 'rights' as though if it weren't for Liberals, Canadians would have none at all.

Charter rights, are 'human rights' and cannot be a matter of opinion. They can't by opted out of by churches on the basis of religious freedom, they can't be opted out of by MPs on the basis of freedom of conscience. Charter rights are rights about which there can be no choice. The either exist or they don't -- an individual's 'vision' doesn't come into it.

Mr. Martin has proved he knows this -- and yet he still wields his sword of disingenuous piety. Martin is a man without principles. His stand on this issue stretches credulity -- and yet he had the effrontery to suggest Stephen Harper was unfit for the PMO.

Martin's views are offensive to those on both sides of the issue and his lack of a core belief system is scary when put in conjunction with the enormous amount of power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Paul Martin's actions don't match the yatter

As Paul Martin dons the cloak of self-righteousness and proclaims himself the champion of the Charter and of 'rights' in general in Canada -- he might want to re-think the validity of his position.

Martin has suggested that Stephen Harper is not fit for the PM's Office because he will re-introduce the same-sex marriage issue to the House and allow a free-vote.

If Harper is not fit to be Prime Minister due to his stand on this issue, what about the Liberal MPs who voted against same-sex marriage? (And who would likely welcome the opportunity to do so again in a truly free vote?) MPs like John McKay, who as a Parliamentary Secretary, asked for, and obtained from the PMO, a special dispensation to vote against Cabinet and against same-sex marriage? If same-sex marriage is a Charter right -- why did Martin allow any members of his party to vote against it? Was it because he knew he had the numbers, so it didn't matter? If it's a right -- a Charter right-- it matters.

Over the past quarter century (maybe longer) the Liberals have managed to convince the Canadian public that there is only one right view on many subjects -- the Constitution/Charter, bilingualism, health care, immigration, and same-sex issues among them.

What Paul Martin has made clear in his diatribe against Harper, is that his view of the nation and its future is so narrow as to only include those who subscribe to a collectivist Liberal-defined (John Duffy-defined?) vision.

The Prime Minister of Canada has proclaimed Stephen Harper unfit to lead the country because he holds an opposing view on what Martin, by his actions, has proved he knows to be a morality or legal-rights issue -- not a Charter, or human rights issue.

When Martin says that same-sex marriage is a Charter issue -- he is saying that any opposition to it is unConstitutional. You can't 'cherry pick' Charter rights, right? Which means the vote in the House was moot anyway -- the decision was already there in the Charter and Parliament was simply affirming it.

But if that's the case, if same-sex marriage is a Charter right, then it was a Charter right prior to the vote -- then what of the Liberal dissenters? How does he allow them to run again when they have voted against the Charter rights of their fellow Canadians? Or, is only the Prime Minister obligated to defend the Charter and not his members? But how does a man defend the Charter, when members of his own party continue to believe and act in a manner that goes against the Charter?

Either same-sex marriage is a right, and it is unconscionable to support the candidacy of anyone who would vote against it -- or it is a legal issue to be decided by parliament. Paul Martin is trying to have it both ways by imposing a one-dimensional Liberal-framed vision of what constitute rights and what is wrong.

Even if you are for gay marriage -- Paul Martin's impassioned 'Charter hero' rhetoric doesn't stand up to scrutiny. He shouldn't be given a pass on the inconsistency between his actions and his words.