About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Because if its one thing Canada needs, it's more bigotry

In a move to appease those that see the culture wars in the States and think it's be rather corking to bring that crap up here, the Conservatives appear to be saying 'thanks, but no thanks' to anymore offers of funds to Toronto Pride.

According to both The Star and CTV, Federal Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy appears to have been stripped of any power concerning the hand out of any portion of the $190 million Marquee Tourism Events Program. That responsibility has been turned over to her boss, Industry Minister Tony Clement.

The Marquee program is a two-year fund designed to help the growth of Canada's tourism industry during these difficult economic times. Big events like Pride Toronto, which attracts 1 and a half million people to the city, are going to be a no brainer for extra funds. And surprise, it wouldn't be the first time that Pride got Federal money.

Darren Cunningham, a spokesman for Clement, confirmed yesterday to The Star that future financial help for Pride Week was "under review," but so was Federal funding for other, similar cultural events like the Calgary Stampede and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Hm, sounds like some of the shrewd, fiscal management policy that the Conservatives have run on, but some have wondered if Ablonczy's demotion has more to do with this picture:

Or let's let Brad Trost, a Saskatchewan Conservative MP, explain: "The pro-life and the pro-family community should know and understand that the tourism funding money that went to the gay pride parade in Toronto was not government policy, was not supported by – I think it's safe to say by a large majority – of the MPs."

Trost told that little nugget in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com, a website founded by the Campaign Life organization. But let's go back to Cunningham, maybe he can clear up the air a bit and tell us that this wasn't a bigoted decision on the part of the government: "I know that certainly there's going to be folks who have their concerns and they've raised those concerns with us about the program. We're listening."

Wow, that's ominous. So what about it Diane Ablonczy, if that is your real name. What kind of maverick are you to be throwing money at a slipshod, fly by night operation like Toronto Pride?

From The Star: "Ablonczy, the MP for Calgary-Nose Hill who famously introduced Harper to his wife, Laureen, was reportedly so impressed by Pride's 'polished and professional' application that she insisted on coming to Toronto to present the cheque in person."

She was impressed with their bookkeeping? Now that's Conservative acumens. The feisty Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett spared no words in a surprising defense of Ablonczy and took a shot at Trost saying that his "boasting . . . one of his colleagues has had a file removed from her because she had the audacity to support a celebration of human rights."

Further, "If this indeed has happened . . . the prime minister needs to tell Canadians, did he indeed punish a minister for doing her job?"

So what about it Mr. Harper? Was one of your own ministers chastised for showing open and financial support for a festival that violates Conservative ideals and moral values?

From the London Free Press: "NDP MP Libby Davies said the incident is more evidence the Conservatives are pursuing a 'narrow-minded agenda.' She called on Harper to give Canadians a clear explanation for why the tourism file was transferred, but the PMO referred calls to Clement's office."

Well, Trost did say that "'almost the entire Conservative caucus' and the Prime Minister's Office were caught off guard." And because of what this phrase entails as an indictment of Conservative policy in how it regards Canada's Queer community, then Harper, or his cronies, need to respond immediately.

And to be frank, isn't this the kind of neo-con BS we all suspect Harper and supports really want to get around to but can't since they persistently lack a majority? This this does seem like some of Harper's patented fence-straddling: trying to appease his base, while making himself look fair and balanced to the other side. Even Jeff Gunnerson of the Campaign Life Coalition seems unsure of where the Prime Minister sits. "I think it clears the air a little bit . . . the federal government doesn't support the pride event," he told CTV.

I'd hate to think that the Conservatives are aiming for us to work backwards on Human Rights, especially during this, the 40th anniversary of the end of homosexuality being criminalized by Canadian Law. Also, this is pretty crappy timing given that this comes mere weeks after John Baird, in his infinitely tactful manner, told an aid that Toronto can F-off as he entered a room full of reporters. Hey Toronto, give us your votes or your funding dries up. Yeah, don't the Conservatives kind of need to breakthrough in Toronto if they're going to win a majority.

If that's not bad enough, some of the comments on the message boards have been really beyond the pale. I won't repeat them here, but if you're at all interested you can read them for yourself.

Basically, this is the unfortunate continuation of our Conservatives full-blown attempt to cut and paste the methodology and promotion instigated by the US neo-cons that culminated in the election and administration of George W. Bush. It's a philosophy that most Americans have rejected completely, so it begs the question: why is Harper and gang trying to spin it here: a country that's socially liberal in ways that make Pat Robertson and Sean Hannity wake up in cold sweats.

But with another election on the horizon, could it end up being that the axiom will be proven once again: Pride goeth before the fall? Possibly.

Oh, and the cash Ablonczy spent on Pride that caused this kerfuffle? $397,500 that "went to items such as improved access for disabled people, infrastructure spending and 'top-calibre' entertainment." Which comes out to about 27 cents per Pride attendant.

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