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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who else are ya gonna vote for?

It's not great to be a social conservative voter in the run-up to B.C.'s provincial election on May 12. Buried in a column in yesterday's Province is a candid revelation that points to how the B.C. Liberals may treat the so-con voter part of their coalition.

One has to wonder if the party hopes to reinvent the "sixty second Socred" idea of the 1970s and 1980s, where B.C. voters hold their nose and vote to keep the socialist hordes safely behind the gates, even though they are not happy with how the "non-NDP party" governs.

Province columnist Ethan Baron thought that he had discovered a smoking guy in his column "Ban bigots from representing us in legislature". Mr. Baron struck a nerve, based on the responses in today's newspaper from readers.

Marc Dalton, a local teacher, is running for the B.C. Liberals in Maple-Ridge-Mission, a riding which probably has a good complement of so-con voters due to its proximity to B.C.'s Bible Belt. The NDP leaked a 1997 e-mail by Mr. Dalton to Mr. Baron to help the efforts of the riding's NDP candidate Mike Bocking. (I am sure that the fact that Mr. Bocking has for "the last 10 years...served as the president of Local 2000 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the union that represents more than 2800 newspaper workers in BC" --the Province's union--played absolutely no part in how "newsworthy" this leak was considered. But, I digress...)

Back in 1997, the B.C. Teacher's Federation was considering the issue of how homosexuality should be dealt with in B.C. schools. Mr. Dalton's e-mail sharing his views at the time is what was leaked to Mr. Baron.

Mr. Baron quotes Mr. Dalton as follows: 

"I am not against homosexuals as people, but I do not support their lifestyle," wrote Dalton, calling homosexuality "a moral issue."

Dalton went on to note in the 1997 e-mail that many people "hold homosexuality to be an improper and high-risk behaviour."

Then he got a little peculiar with his language.

"Though I oppose violence toward these people as well as toward all people, I am against the BCTF ram-rodding the homosexual motion against the wishes of great numbers of parents [and teachers] in this district and this province."

Mr. Dalton's position at the time was and is defendable. There are probably many people in the riding who would want B.C.'s schools to carefully respect parents' conservative views on the subject in how and what they teach.

Mr. Baron, however, took the old e-mail and ran with it. He echoes Mr. Bocking in being appalled that anyone who may think that way is a teacher, and urged that schools must be used to combat "bigotry" in local homes.

Mr. Dalton's response, certainly directed from above by B.C. Liberal officials, is what may be of interest here.

It's safe to guess that in the Maple Ridge--Mission riding there are probably a lot more conservative voters who want government bodies--such as schools--to respect their belief that homosexuality is morally wrong than they are liberal gay-positive voters. A good answer for Mr. Dalton, then, would be to say that a balance should be struck and that if schools must address the issue at all, that both sides of the issue should be respected.

But what did Mr. Dalton say? He issued a press release apologizing for his 1997 statements and, while declining to state his moral views on the subject now, swung into line like a good B.C. Liberal:

"We do need to be promoting tolerance." The Liberals, he said, "are fully committed to equality for gays. And I am part of this party."

Would it be fair to say, then, that there are several litmus tests, that the B.C. Liberals use to screen out those with traditional views on such things? Would they kick someone out of the party for being pro-life, for example?

I can understand, but certainly not in the slightest approve, the B.C. Liberals in a caucus meeting or behind closed doors deciding that, in order to keep their coalition intact, that they need to defer every time to the socially liberal part of their party if push ever comes to shove. But, such things in recent years have been done quietly and respectfully behind closed doors.

That said, it's frightening that this would be done during an election campaign. Refreshingly honest, yes, but scary. Do you want to tell a significant part of your base that they can't be listened to on a particular issue? Why be so incredibly blunt?

The B.C. Liberals are probably safe in this election, but how many times, and regarding how many issues, can you tell small-c conservative voters that you won't listen to them? If there was a viable conservative party running in every riding, they might be losing votes even as we speak.

Gordon Campbell, who missed out being elected premier in 1996 due to the efforts of Jack Weisgerber and his B.C. Reform party, should know due to painful experience the value of giving conservative voters some hope that they will get some of the things they want.

Hindsight, they say, is perfect. Does the B.C. Liberal Party have some?   

Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


The voters in Maple Ridge-Mission have an alternative. Reform BC has a candidate that can and will represent the conservative voter, as well as all the other residents.

Posted by: Ian A. Vaughan | 2009-04-29 8:09:22 AM

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