Friday, May 13, 2011

From Hate Crimes to Choice: It Just Isn't Looking Good For The B.C. Conservatives

     For those who have missed the buzz rocketing around Canada today, the former Conservative MP from Delta-Richmond East John Cummins, has come out saying that he voted against hate crimes legislation for gays and lesbians because he believes that sexual orientation is a choice and that giving hate crimes distinction to crimes against people because of their sexual orientation is not equal.

      But why are these statements not really important? Before I explain why, I just need to address an issue that I have seen advocated in the blogosphere. This announcement by Cummins does NOT mean that the Conservative party in Canada - a party that just won a majority government on May 2 - will be repealing any laws that help LGBT individuals in Canada, nor does it indicate how the Harper government feels about sexual orientation or LGBT rights. The now majority Harper government has not even indicated a move to repeal gay marriage laws - a move that if he did so, would not survive a Court challenge even for a second.  Thus, it is not appropriate to speculate on what the Conservative Party will do in the coming years, we have always known that there was a social conservative element to the party - but most political analysts agree that this contingent is a minority within a broader party concerned with economic issues.

      So why am I not worried about these ridiculous statements.  It is because Cummins just resigned as a federal MP in order to run for the leadership position of the British Columbia Conservative Party - a position he will most likely get as he is the only one running. But, this provincial party has declined to make inroads in the province;  the most recent public opinion polls showing that they only have 8% support of the electorate. The party itself has not held a seat in the British Columbia legislature since 1975! This is a party that desperately needs new blood, support, and a more modern view of Canada, rather than one which looks back and tries to appease its older more socially conservative base. That is the only way that Conservatives will be able to have any chance electorally  in the more left leaning province, and something that will not happen if Cummins becomes leader of the party.

       With the nomination of John Cummins, I expect that B.C. Conservatives will once again see a poor showing at the polls in the next election. Young voters - who are moving to the province in droves - have far differing views about sexual orientation and LGBT rights, and will hence support one of the other parties (NDP and Liberal) that is more in touch with their views. In the next ten years, unless these views change, I predict that the B.C. Conservative Party will be nothing more than a historical fact.


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