Friday, July 10, 2009

Epic fail for the Cons 

More editorials and comment today on the Pride Parade fiasco.
Murray Mandrake provides an eloquent column that covers all the angles:
. . . That our Conservative MPs find it necessary to appease the minority religious right at the expense of the gay community -- which still feels the need to hold such festivals to counteract intolerance that lingers in the first decade of the 21st century -- is problematic in itself.
. . . our supposedly business-minded Tories should surely appreciate the value of this meagre $400,000 investment in Toronto's pride parade, an event that generates $100 million in economic activity and $18 million in federal tax revenue. That this is something they would need to review says much about their real agenda.
. . . But let's just focus on the 13 Conservative MPs from Saskatchewan who have largely been hiding from the media ever since they broke their promise to deliver $800 million a year on equalization. Wouldn't their valuable time be better spent on the medical isotope issue and Saskatchewan's interest in a nuclear research reactor? What's happened on the clean coal file since the initial promise? What have they done for the forestry sector and displaced Saskatchewan workers? What about the drought? Is the federal AgriRecovery program adequate?
Well, we don't really know.
Evidently none of these problems is quite as pressing to Trost, Vellacott, et. al, as finding out whether a $400,000 grant to a gay pride festival in Toronto that brings in $18 million in tax revenue is money well spent.
Isn't that a little outrageous?
Yes, yes it is.
Brad Trost finally spoke again to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, who apparently "ambushed" him for an interview -- how dare a reporter approach a politician at a public event to ask about a national news story when everybody knows that Saskatchewan MPs aren't allowed to speak to the press about anything important(see above)? Anyway, here's what he said:
"My preference has always been for events that bring the community together to be central in any of our funding programs," Trost said Thursday.
Sounds very kumbaya, but basically this means anything objected to by the religious right is too divisive for Cons to fund. Here's the bait-and-switch:
"My goal is not to criticize Diane, and that's what people are trying to make the story of," he said. "Diane has done a good job as a minister and I didn't want to continue to add to the whole concept of criticizing Diane that was being implied."
Yeah, well, the person who implied this was you, in your original interview. But as much as you would want this to be just a story about a caucus spat, the real story here of course is how the Conservative caucus wants to pander to the homophobic religious right by cutting off funding to gay events. Here's the most revealing quote:
Trost said he was aware the federal government, under Canadian Heritage, funded Saskatoon's Pride Festival in June with a $9,000 grant to the Saskatoon Diversity Network.
"I've been aware of it. I'm a fiscal conservative so I've been urging reductions all across the board on all sorts of issues, not just on heritage funding," he said.
Oh, so you tried to get this grant cut too, did you? But the Conservative caucus isn't about to piss off Heritage minister James Moore, who is described as having liberal views on social issues.
It's all an Epic Fail for the Conservatives, says National Post's Chris Selley:
The Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski suggests Trost might have been “fully authorized to slag Ablonczy in public, in hope of appeasing … social conservatives” over funding Toronto’s Pride parade, or Ablonczy’s LGBT photo-op, or whatever it is they’re supposedly enraged about. The problem with that plan—and it’s a whopper, as Radwanski says—is that far more people know about it now than ever did before. Thanks to David Akin and an unidentified “little birdie,” they now also know that the government is positively lavishing gay and lesbian events from coast to coast with taxpayers’ cash. That doesn’t mean this wasn’t some kind of Machiavellian scheme, of course. Remember: these people are idiots. But if it was, it was certainly an epic failure.
The Ottawa Citizen puts forward a case for how all those poor Con MPs deserve our sympathy:
. . . for a number of Tory MPs themselves, already frustrated because they can't speak as candidly as they'd like on abortion, immigration and other cultural issues, the idea of funding gay pride parades doesn't sit well.
I guess it's not easy being mean.

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