One of these things is not like the other?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, in the last election we promised Canadians a genuinely free vote on the issue in the House of Commons. My party, including the cabinet of my party, will vote freely on this issue.

I know that the new Leader of the Opposition has said he will not allow a free vote by his caucus members. I hope that proves not to be the case because I think the rights of members of Parliament are some of the most important rights we have in this country.


In case you were wondering, the issue in question is not whether Qu├ębec is a nation. For that vote, held just over a week ago, Harper whipped his cabinet, forcing a minister to resign rather than support it. Apparently Harper doesn’t think recognizing ethnic groups as nations constitutes a moral issue. Or he’s just a hypocrite. One of those.


Defence of reason

Ted MortonI certainly expected no less from Ted Morton than his regressive Bill 208, but I was quite surprised to hear that the federal Conservatives are considering a similar Defence of Religions Act, presumably aimed at keeping their socially conservative supporters and MPs in line by attempting to specifically allow discrimination specifically against same-sex couples.

I dearly hope the title of that act was something salacious cooked up to sell papers over at the G&M, because if that’s the sort of language being tossed around in Ottawa backrooms these days, I will be deeply worried. Defence of religions? Where do they think they are, Battleground Homosexuality? Let’s keep that kind of ignorant hostility on the Internets where it belongs, please. A party in government has no excuse for adopting language which buys into the offensive and wrong characterization of religious persons and gay and lesbian persons as two disctinct, opposing groups. Remember that the first same-sex marriage in Canada took place in a church before a minister. Exactly which religions were the Conservatives planning on defending?

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Not having to deal with constitutional challenges: Priceless

It seems a little redundant to write two posts slagging the Tories for access to justice issues in just three days, but I couldn’t pass this one up. A recent announcement of $1 billion dollars in cuts includes giving the axe to the Court Challenges Program, which provides federal funding (about $3 million per year) for minority groups wishing to challenge laws they believe violate their constitutional equality rights, and unable to finance their own legal team to face off against the goverenment’s.

The program operates at arms-length from the government, and on the basis of solicitor-client privilege does not disclose whom it approves funding for, or how much. Justice Minister Vic Toews has been particularly critical of this aspect of the program recently, though one would suspect that the Tories would need little excuse to get rid of a program which provides access to constitutional justice. When you decry any recognition of constitutional rights as judicial activism, it makes very little sense to provide those equality-seeking thorns with funding.

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Injustice or sour grapes?

Let me begin with the sour grapes, you can be the judge if I ever expand beyond them. In addition to my usual laziness and carelessness, some detail will be lacking in this post due to me having signed a privacy agreement with my employer regarding some details of my job.

Hello OperatorAfter avoiding employment for far too long, I recently began a job in the operator services department of one of Canada’s major communications companies. It is a horribly monotonous job that I perform for relatively low pay. Making matters worse, those working in the adjacent room to mine make more money, get pay increases more frequently, and receive their schedules with one week extra notice.

What is the difference between what they do and what I do? The difference is that nearly all calls coming into my department originate from other communications companies across North America who have contracted my employer to handle their operator services. Down the hall, the operators answer calls originating from my employer’s customers. My department was created to offset the declining revenues post long distance service deregulation due to the resulting increased competition. My department is a now a major source of revenue, and is steadily growing. The department down the hall is a money loser, and shrinking.

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