The extreme views of Stockwell Day
Steinem once quipped that she was going to ask for political asylum in Canada.
Michael Moore too talks about how much more progressive is Canada than the U.S.
And up until recently, they have been right. In the long shadow cast by free
trade and globalization, Canada is getting more and more Americanized. Nowhere
is this more obvious than in the rise of a right- wing party that deeply
resembles the Republicans and that openly promotes making Canada more like the
ultra right-wing party, formerly the Reform Party, now called the Canadian
Alliance is the Official Opposition in Canada's Parliament. Their newly
elected leader makes Newt Gingrich look progressive. Stockwell Day is a
fundamentalist Christian with a history in the government of the province of
Alberta of fighting abortion and gay rights.
1988, Stockwell Day said granting greater access to abortion would prompt a rise
in child abuse. “The thinking is,” he said, “if you can cut a child to
pieces or burn them alive with salt solution while they're still in the womb,
what's wrong with knocking them around a little when they're outside the
told the Ottawa Citizen: “I do believe life begins at conception. The very
first time I ran for election, I took out an editorial in the local newspaper
and said ‘look I am a democrat. (But) on this issue, because I see it as a
human rights issue, if you wanted me to vote to promote that I wouldn't be
able to do that.”
groups who played a major role in organizing support for his leadership campaign
told the Vancouver Sun that they wouldn't expect abortion to be banned under a
Stockwell Day government, at least not right away. They expect that the issue
would once again come to the forefront and that Day would work, as he did in
Alberta, to end funding for abortion services by pronouncing them medically
course the hopes of the anti-abortion groups don't fit very well with Day's
radical decentralist positions. Neither do the hopes of religious minorities
that Day will support public funding for religious schools. Nevertheless on CFRB
radio in Toronto, an orthodox Jew, fundamentalist Moslem and a Mormon all called
to say that Day had told their communities that he would support public funding
of private religious schools. Not even the most centralist Canadian Prime
Minister in history has interfered with primary education, which is provincial
jurisdiction, yet Day promises to do so.
fiercely supports the rights of religious schools to teach whatever they want
and to hire whomever they want. He told Alberta Report in 1984, “Standards of
education are not set by government but by God, the Bible, the home and the
gay rights, he says he supports the Liberal position against gay marriage. But
it was Day who tried to get his government in invoke the notwithstanding clause
to overturn the Supreme Court decision writing protection of gays in the human
was in the studio when BC talk show host Rafe Mair questioned Day about his
views on gay rights at the beginning of his campaign for the Alliance
leadership. After trying to dodge a series of hard questions, Day finally
explained that he felt similarly when a constituent asked him to make bigamy
told him, said Day, “ if you want to live with two women, that's your choice
but we cannot make it legal.”
you actually suggesting that a same sex relationship is the same as bigamy?”
asked Mair incredulously.
Day is a deeply conservative man reflecting views similar to the Moral Majority
in the United States.
is trying to quietly shelve his views under the pressure of the desire for
political power in a country where more than 80 percent are pro-choice and a
significant majority support gay rights but that's not what he's done in
Alberta. At the very least his election will give new voice and energy to the
anti-feminist, anti-gay, fundamentalist religious forces who have been sidelined
politically in the 1990's.
fiscal policies are just as right-wing as his social policies. He supports a
flat tax and radical decentralization of power, especially over social
programmes to the provinces. He is raking money hand over fist from Canada's
corporate elite which had refused to fund his predecessor, Preston Manning.
is being handled by very slick operators and he himself is both telegenic and
street smart. His television performance is reminiscent of Ronald Regan. The
corporate media in Canada, at first quite hostile to Day, has now taken a shine
to him as the new kid on the block. With a Liberal government that is starting
to look stale and arrogant in power and a social democratic party stuck at 10%
in the polls, there is a real fear that if Day succeeds in putting his extreme
social conservative views in the closet, he has a chance at significant
is one silver lining in the cloud of Stockwell Day's leadership bid. Having
such a strong opponent of women's and gay rights in the position of leader of
the official opposition might just remobilise a women's movement that has
lacked a central focus for while. It might also draw the attention of some of
those young who are taking to the streets to fight globalization to what's
happening in party politics right here at home.