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The Fall of Stephen Harper

Wed 21 Oct 2015 In: Politics and Religion View at Wayback View at NDHA

As predicted, the Liberal Party won the latest Canadian federal election. What happens now for Canada's LGBT population? After the end of last evening, the new composition of the Canadian House of Commons is as follows. Out of 339 total seats, the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau have won 184 seats. Some distance behind, the vanquished Conservative Party of Canada has claimed 99, while the third party New Democrats have 44, the Bloc Quebecois have 10 and the Canadian Greens have one.  Conceding defeat, outgoing Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper also announced that he was stepping down as leader of the Conservatives.  According to the Globe and Mail, the turnout was seventy percent. Eighty eight women were elected, one quarter of the total House of Commons and a new federal record. The Liberals claimed considerable ethnic minority support, and polled well across income categories, leading the Conservatives by about fifteen points. The Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia all solidly voted Liberal, sweeping aside both Conservative incumbents and New Democrat mainstays. The only exception to the rule were the other western provinces, particularly Alberta, which is the core of the Conservative vote. Thus far, former US Vice President Al Gore, President Enrique Nieto of Mexico, Prime Minister Narenda Modi of India, Prime Minister Razak of Malaysia and comedian John Cleese have all congratulated Trudeau on his emphatic victory. According to Xtra Canada, there are four  gay male Liberal MPs in the House of Commons- Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, Nova Scotia), Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West, Ontario), Randy Brissonault (Edmonton Centre, Alberta) and Seamus O'Regan (St. Johns Mountain-Pearl, Newfoundland). Of these, Brissonault and O'Regan are the first elected LGBT representatives from Alberta and Newfoundland. Unfortunately, the New Democrats lost three LGBT MPs in the Liberal landslide, namely Danny Morin (Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, Quebec), Philip Toone (Le Gaspesie Les Isles De La Madeleine, Quebec) and Craig Scott (Toronto-Danforth, Ontario).  There are now only two LGBTI MPs in the halved New Democrat parliamentary caucus, Randall Garrison (Esquimaux-Sanich-Sooke, British Columbia) and Peggy Nash (Saskatoon West), now the only lesbian Canadian federal MP. Several progay straight NDP MPs were also defeated.  Writing for Xtra, Canadian LGBT political correspondent Rob Salerno noted that most Canadian LGBT community members relished the end of the Harper era as a fate well deserved. Although the Conservatives wisely abandoned trying to reverse federal Canadian marriage equality legislation, the Conservative brand was tainted by homophobic outbursts from his party MPs and candidates, unyielding oppostion to Bill C-279, which would have added gender identity to Canada's Human Rights Act antidiscrimination legislation, funding cuts to LGBT organisations and the effective recriminalisation of sex work, as well as draconian new "national security", surveillance and anti-terrorism legislation. Salerno notes that there will be an end to Canada's blood and organ donor ban for eligible gay men, passage of a transgender rights bill through the House of Commons (although the Senate Upper House obstructed the legislation last time- but Trudeau can appoint 22 new Liberal Senators to that house), transgender official document reform and transgender prisoners rights, and age of consent equality.  It looks as if the Canadian LGBT community is tentatively celebrating, but feel some sympathy for their other strong parliamentary supporter, the New Democrats. With reform ahead, what LGBT issues will be left for the New Democrats to champion?  Salerno thinks one might be Bill C-36, the Harper administration's anti-sexworker legislation.  Meanwhile, within the necrotic social conservative abyss, cries of anguish were heard from the Canadian Christian Right. Writing mournfully on the antigay, antifeminist and antiabortion Lifesite,  an anonymous religious social conservative lamented that Trudeau was strongly pro-choice on abortion rights and supported trans-inclusive federal antidiscrimination laws, as well as possible refusal to delay the implementation of the Canadian Supreme Court Carter assisted suicide rights decision. It also mourned the defeat of numerous Conservative antigay and antiabortion MPs- more than half of them gone, thankfully.  There seemed to be no election night analysis elsewhere on the Canadian Christian Right, apart from cursory comments on the Cardus, Canadian Christian Heritage Party (yes, they still have one!) and Catholic Canada websites.  According to Wikipedia's Canadian election page, the Christian Heritage Party stood only thirty candidates.  Recommended: Toronto Globe and Mail: http://www. Rob Salerno: "Four new lesbian or gay MPs returned to Ottawa" Xtra Canada: 20.10.2015: http://www. /news-and-ideas/news/four- openly-gay-lesbian-new-mps- elected-ottawa-179030 Rob Salerno: "Does the end of the Harper era mean victory for LGBT people?" Xtra Canada: 20.10.2015: http://www. opinion/the-end-the-harper- era-mean-victory-lgbt-people- 179036 Wikipedia/Canadian federal election 2015: http:// en.wikipedia. org/Canadian_federal_election, _2015 Not Recommended: "Pro-lifers lament Justin Trudeau's Liberal sweep: Lifesite: 20.10.2015: https://www. news/pro-lifers-lament-justin- trudeaus-liberal-sweep [Graphic: Former Canadian  Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Someone Else] Craig Young - 21st October 2015    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 21st October 2015 - 10:28am

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