You know that post I had a little while ago about there didn't seem to be much brewing on the Canadian political horizon?
Well, as Dick Irvin would say, cancel previous memo.
The Montréal Gazette published an article at the start of last week revealing that U.S. religious groups were funding Canadian opponents of same-sex marriage. Outrage followed, mostly in the Canadian blogosphere, with the exception of this CBC article and a mention on the American Daily Kos site. Here's a blog post on the subject. And another. And another. And another, and another, and another. Follow the links in the posts to find even more commentary. If you're new to Canadian political blogs, and I am, this is a good way to get into the swing of things.
A follow-up article in the Gazette quoted Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, author of the same-sex marriage legislation, as saying that he was examining the situation to see if there were any measures which might limit foreign financial intervention in internal Canadian political disputes. The same article had the American groups claiming that the Canadian organisations they were funding were all completely independent, and the American leadership had no say in what they would do with the money, and if the Canadian groups did use it for a political cause, well, they knew best. Another Gazette article later appeared in which Cotler essentially admitted that no statute on the books could be used to prevent the American funding from crossing the border.
There's not an awful lot to say about the issue. Like most of the commentators I've linked to, I don't see this as a free-speech issue; I see it as a story about foreign lobbyists trying to influence decisions made by representatives of the people of Canada. As far as affecting the same-sex marriage legislation, I don't see it having much of an effect. Unless, that is, it's a boomerang effect. Canadians are very touchy about American influence in their politics. Especially, across most of Canada, influence from the American Right. In the last election, Stephen Harper had to spend an awful lot of time dodging accusations from the other three parties that he was too friendly with the American right wing. This situation will not help his cause, and is not likely to help the cause of opposition to gay marriage in general.
This isn't so much a question of Canadians being more sympathetic to the left than the right. It's a question of the American right representing a value system that Canadians don't relate to at all. Meanwhile, Harper's already finding himself in trouble for trying to drum up opposition to gay marriage among ethnic minorities. There's a Conservative party convention coming up later this month, in Montréal, no less, and division was already expected between the far-right ex-Reform wing and the socially-liberal Red Tories. Heaven only knows what'll happen now.
Personally, I don't expect to be shedding any tears.
I could have wept, though, when I read about this. The Canadian government apparently went to bed with Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically modified crops. The issue here wasn't to do with healthier crops or larger fruits; it was about Monsanto's notorious ‘terminator' crops. It seems that the issue has been settled, thankfully against Monsanto (again), but they're gearing up for the next fight (again). How deeply have they corrupted the government? Stay tuned for further details.
And, lastly, a new poll suggests there is an issue out there that Canadians are steamed about. It's not what you could call controversial, though, since so many people are against it. Yes, it's the always-unpopular American Missile Defense Program. Here's a link to The Gracchi, who will tell you more about the poll. Key quote for me, from the EKOS pollsters: "I don't think Canadians feel that intensely about missile defense, in and of itself. I think it's become a proxy for deeper anxieties about what the American administration (is) doing." Sounds likely to me.
So on the one hand, the Bloc, the NDP, many Liberals, and most of Canada oppose the Missile Defense Plan. On the other hand, the Bush Administration and much of Canadian industry want Canadian participation. Conclusion: there's a reason Paul Martin looks so nervous these days.
But hey, at least things are getting interesting.