First off, this is a post dealing with my perception of the political thinking going on here, nothing more than that. I make no claim that I am certain about any motivations I do not explicitly state such about in each specific instance. I have never claimed to be a telepath nor any mystical ability to see into the human soul any more easily than the rest of my species, I use past behaviour and behavioural analysis accumulated through a lifetime of observation of such and having been raised inside a major political party's inner workings by birth providing invaluable access for high quality information. This is one of the main reasons I discuss politics at this blog, it is something I have known and loved from childhood yet was the despair in the end of many of my tutors because I refused to give blind commitment to a party over all. Ironically enough I had thanks to that upbringing been exposed to enough to know that all parties are inherently cyclical in how power will eventually corrupt and must be removed by loss of power, the only question is how quickly it happens and this current government has really been creeping me out with how rapidly they are demonstrating their own corruption of power, if not as yet that we know about for any financial gain but for political positioning and posturing. By controlling information as tightly as they have been they are making it that much harder for anyone to do to them what Marlene Jennings did today in regards to the Arar issue, show their falsehoods in real time or even anywhere near such where it could be effective in preventing a successful spin operation to give it the appearance of something already settled except for some malcontents and political opportunists (aka people that finally saw enough of the details to see the problems being hidden by the swift/"decisive" style of this PM). If they can keep it from being countered fast enough most times the speed of the information/news cycle will drop it from prominence and leave the original impression with most people even if the record shows later that it was wrong information. So I think it is important to write this now while the issue is still fresh enough for it to be relevant.
What did we see today? At first glance we saw the CPC showing off it's anti SSM (and for many people that means anti-gay as well) roots. We saw the other parties decisively vote it down with the margin for majority victory being significantly wider than the number of government members that voted for it. That is the interesting thing though that should not be lost sight of. We saw six Cabinet Ministers as several other CPC MPs also vote against this motion. Why is that so significant one asks? Simple, it not only shows off the increasing tolerance for homosexuals and their issues within the CPC (keep in mind this is not my actual reading of what I see in that party but what I do believe they want people to see just like every other political party does) it shows something this government has needed to have to point to for some time now. It showed senior members of his party "opposing" his wishes in an "important" vote without consequence and without rancor. Harper has picked up (rightly in my books) a reputation for not forgetting those that have crossed him in the past, especially those that win over him and/or his position. This gives him and the spin doctors of the CPC something to work from to try and if not counter at least blunt the intensity of that image being perceived by the voting public. That is what I think he gains the most from this vote.
While yes I do think there was a certain amount of satisfying a powerful segment of his base involved in this measure, the fact that Harper brought forward a motion to ask the permission of the House to discuss ways and means to repeal SSM was clearly intended to be for appearances sake and not anything substantive. This was so he can say he kept an "important" promise (like the income trusts one wasn't, the no party bagmen appointed to the Senate, no unelected Cabinet Ministers except from a Province that elected no CPC MPs, to name a few broken election promises off the top of my head) on a major issue with one of his core constituencies, one that helped him reach the office he holds today. That is always something any politician, especially a leader, must not forget to do...dance with the one that brung you, and Harper hasn't had much to give that segment of his political base as of late. Harper also has to recognize that politically opposing SSM at this point after it's acceptance for the last year and a half without consequence and roughly 2/3rds saying it is settled as far as they are concerned and growing as time passes if slowing down a little is a long term loser for the CPC. The way he handled this also makes it clear to me that this is not an issue of principle for him, or at least it is not anymore if it once truly was. He needed this off his plate, especially with defender of the Faith(Charter) Dion positioning himself against this image which still has powerful resonance within the electorate as the election proved to have any hope of crafting his majority and he knew it. So he will try to make what use he can of it, and I expect to see it used as an example of how the CPC really isn't as tightly micromanaged as has been reported by multiple sources multiple times since this government came to power as well as increased tolerance from the perception of intolerance that has clung to the CPC despite all their attempts to pretend otherwise.
This has one thing in common though with Mahar Arar's treatment by the CPC when he was in Syria. At that time the then Canadian Alliance was chiding the government for daring to try to engage in "...high level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist," (Harper's exact words according to Hansard, see previous post for link), thereby condemning Arar to further time in Syria and even possibly opening him up to further torture because of Canadian politicians calling him a terrorist in the HoC. In other words Harper and his crowd were far more concerned about what kind of political hay they could generate from this than they were in having any interest at all in finding out whether this man actually had anything to do with terrorism or was an innocent man caught up in the aftermath of 9/11/01 and the paranoia that understandably existed for several months afterwards. They declared him guilty despite Arar never being charged by any government for anything whatsoever from beginning to end and used the Liberal government's concern for his welfare and a possible miscarriage of justice to paint them as soft on terrorism. With this debate on SSM Harper does pretty much the same thing to gay people, especially those in or planning on entering marriage themselves. He has condemned them to yet another round of questioning their basic human rights, freedoms, and most importantly VALUE/SELF WORTH. He has been indifferent to that pain because he knows this is a voting block smaller and less likely to support him than those that find the idea of SSM somehow intolerable. He is indifferent and unwilling to actually try and see things from the side of those supporting SSM and he has at every turn been willing to use this issue to try and make political hay, most recently over this so called need for a free vote or it doesn't really count (which since the BQ and NDP whipped theirs this was not, leaving room for those advocates on this issue to start pressuring the CPC to try again with down the road no matter what Harper said today to the contrary) nonsense. He is instead of defending the inherent rights of Canadian citizenship is instead trampling on them for the sake of advancing his own partisan political agenda and personal ambitions. It is that these two matters have in common between them with the way the CPC operates, they trample on those interests/aspects/elements of Canadian citizenship that they find politically useless/harmful to them and use them for partisan political gains if at all possible at the same time against their opposition and to hell with any innocent bystander caught in the way.
This was a waste of time and money for the sole purpose of giving PM Harper a limited political tool for the next election. That is all this exercise was about, and anyone that tries to claim this was about some grand principle then they are lying including perhaps to themselves, delusional, or incredibly brainwashed/conditioned. This was also a further example of how Harper and his party are willing to exploit the suffering of others to their own political gains even when it places the very life of a Canadian citizen in question as in the Arar matter, and in this case gay people were made to feel yet again they are seen by many within Canadian society including the current PM as second class citizens at best and do not have the same basic inherent human feelings/nature/needs as everyone outside of their minority do. The reason SSM is so important is not simply the legal recognition but the overall recognition that gay people have the same emotional needs for love and companionship as straight people do including being able to be with the one they want for the rest of their lives. This is also why I believe there is such a fight against it from certain quarters, especially in the religious right. If SSM is acceptable and what it validates is true then it becomes far harder to try and portray being gay as anything wrong and any more relevant to Biblical teachings/life as Leviticus' prohibition on eating shellfish and the various stoning offences are to today's devout Christian. This is what makes what we have seen done today so disgusting and so particularly vile since it was a for show vote and not a vote on a substantial motion which would have actually had any impact other than to continue debate on actually voting to roll back SSM. It is this sort of politics that I find especially disturbing and grounds for opposition where the Harper configured/led CPC is concerned. Possibly with he and his core followers out of power that party can become a more typical Canadian conservative party in both belief and manner of operating, but this willingness to trample on Canadian citizens' rights like this especially in the name of partisan political expediency is truly vile. It cannot be trusted with the power of a majority government, in my views it should not even have had the power of a minority as I have said in the past.
While I do not believe this issue is going away permanently I hope at least for another year or two's peace on it before any real momentum starts up, but alas one never knows in politics. After all given the accelerated rate of time (a week in politics being an eternity sort of thing) we could see it again before next year is out depending on what happens and how desperate the CPC starts getting if/when their base appears unmotivated to come out for them. We shall see, that segment of the party was told to restrain itself in the last election to gain power, then with the minority result they were gagged to try and keep them from letting too much out of the bag of their real preferences to use power for, and has managed to keep out of the public eye for most of the last year. If Harper can keep that up until after the next election he could actually form that majority, probably by vote splitting between the Liberals, NDP and in some cases the Green party also factoring in. We have seen unintended/accidental majority governments before in this country, just look at Ontario in 1990. We saw how much vote splitting can do when it ws on the right, this time out it is going to be on the left (although with twice as many voters to start out from) this happens in, especially if Harper and Layton get their respective ways since each is after weakening Liberal votes and seat count for their own reasons, indeed I believe Harper is doing what he thinks he can to aid in that since it works so well for him also.
One last thing...do not underestimate this man nor his ability to beat the odds. While we may see some strong similarities between Harper and his CPC and the GWB Administration and the GOP, remember Harper is far smarter and more politically skilled than GWB ever has been or ever will be. One of the main reasons I fight against him so intently is because I recognize exactly what kind of threat he represents in terms of capability to advance his agenda in our political realm, just look at how far he has gotten with a clearly disliked political ideology by a clear to supermajority of the Canadian public. If anything the fact that I focus on him so much should be taken by supporters of his of just how politically able and intellectually capable I believe Harper to be unlike the dunce down South they call a President. It is the agenda he wishes to pursue that puts me in opposition and not a question of the man's technical competence (ability to relate to and understand the majority in this country and respect their POV I'm not of the opinion he is competent in though) as a political leader. Those that fail to recognize the skills and abilities of their enemies/opponents tend to get very nasty surprises as a result. I try not to make that kind of mistake.