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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Harper's out of the bubble; Liberal campaign worker is out of his mind

I've been very critical of Jack Layton on this page in the past days, but give the man full props - he answers questions, he speaks his mind, and he generally lets voters know what they'll be getting if they vote NDP. In the meantime, Stephen Harper has spent the campaign thus far tightly on-message, waiting for the Liberals to helpfully self-destruct. Corruption, waste, graft, blah, blah, complainycakes. It hasn't given the voters much of a sense of what they might be voting for, only what they're voting against. Until today.

Merrifield's gaffe on Tuesday forced Harper to take questions responding to the growing sense that the new Conservatives have more in common with their Reform and Alliance predessors than they want to let on.

Harper repeated his comments from Wednesday that Parliament would define marriage and that he expected the Supreme Court would not interfere.


"I believe the court will defer to Parliament's judgment," said Harper, who supports the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Harper also reiterated past comments that his government would not introduce abortion legislation but that he would allow a free vote on the issue if an MP introduced a private member's bill.
The former, the position on same-sex marriage, I could have written off as throwing a bone to the social conservatives, without actually governing as one. Regular readers know I'm in favour of same-sex marriage, and wouldn't be happy about this, but it would only mean delay before those marriages are recognized.

But to the latter, that's more disconcerting. I suppose a private-members bill might insist on counselling. It might mean a wait period. It might mean all sorts of means, big or small, designed to interfere with access to abortion. I don't want to be part of the scaremongering chorus, led by Paul Martin, that says Harper is dangerous. But an open-ended statement like this is not doing a lot to dissuade me.

Speaking of the scaremongering chorus, Bear has pointed me to a story from the Lower Mainland:

Vancouver East Liberal candidate Shirley Chan has accepted the resignation of one of her communications officials because of an e-mail she calls "inappropriate, insensitive and indefensible."

Chan says Jon Loewen had sent out an e-mail inviting 50 friends to go to a local bar for a campaign event.

He wrote that he liked going to the bar to get "retarded."

He said everyone was welcome, even Conservatives - who, he wrote, could sit in the corner and hate gays, immigrants, social programs and anything reasonable.

Chan says Loewen offered his resignation and it was accepted.

"I will apologize to persons with disabilities, I will apologize to any immigrant groups who may feel they have been slandered," she says.
Before you ask, I'm not going to score any gaffe points for this - this is a minor official in a local campaign, who was likely working one too many long days. I'm certain he's feeling a little sheepish about this.

Most interesting in this story was Chan's response, which I'm almost considering scoring as a gaffe of ommision. Quick quiz - who was the most slandered by that e-mail? Who did Chan neglect to apologise to, in her moment of contrition? That's right - Tories. Whoops!

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