Friday, July 10, 2009

Government funding of things we don’t like

I have to confess that when I first heard that the federal government had given $400,000 to Toronto’s Gay Pride parade (to used primarily to increase accessibility for people with disabilities who wanted to watch the parade), I wasn’t terribly impressed.  That shouldn’t come as to big of a surprise to anyone who knows me. I am a social and religious conservative.  I believe that homosexuality is biblically and morally wrong and I make no apology for that conviction.  However, I didn’t feel a real compulsion to get on my high-horse about it because government funds go for lots of things that I am not too terribly impressed about.  My own convictions on the matter are basically that if special interest and/or minority groups want to do things like have parades, hold events, make films, or promote their cultures, etc., that they can do so on their own time and on their own dime.  I guess that this doesn’t make me much of a supporter of government-funded multiculturalism and the like. So be it.

But getting back to the issue of the Toronto Gay Pride parade, I was a little surprised when I learned that the Minister of State for Tourism Diane Ablonczy, who was responsible for giving out the cheques, will no longer do so and that one of her caucus colleagues says it is because of her office’s decision to give some of the money to the Gay Pride parade.  First, I didn’t think that the Tories would actually want to be seen as taking such a conservative stance regarding the Gay Pride parade, given their drift to the political centre in recent years. Second, the action seemed a little over the top in terms of severity and party leaders had to have known that this would go public (Ottawa is no place for secrets to be kept).  Third, I was surprised to read that most of Ablonczy’s colleagues were apparently unaware of the decision to send such funding to the Gay Pride parade and that this action had come as an unpleasant surprise to them.  Given past funding of this event and also its controversial nature in many conservative circles, it is amazing that it could have flown under the radar like this.

Did I say surprised to learn these things?  I probably should say I am sceptical that there really was as little knowledge of this funding decision as is being portrayed. More likely is that the Conservatives underestimated the backlash that they might receive from those who would oppose federal funding going for such an event that blatantly promotes the homosexuality in its various forms. The fact that the Minister was photographed with a group of drag queens when the funding was announced probably didn’t help either. 

My concern, however, as stated above, has more to do with government-funding of any kind of special interest group’s event rather that targeting those that I find morally or biblically wrong.  As I said before, the government funds all sorts of things that I disagree with.  Where are we going to draw the line?  This is, in effect, the response of Monte Solberg, a former Conservative Member of Parliament of Medicine Hat, Alberta and Cabinet Minister (and I believe, an evangelical Christian) in his blog from Wednesday.

I don't know all of the facts on the Gay Pride Parade issue but it's clear that my friend Diane has been treated very unfairly.

The truth is that, for better or worse, the Conservative Government has provided grants for this kind of thing in the past. It was the Liberals who initiated them but it was Conservative Ministers who attended and bragged about the government's support for the Gay Games. That's because half the conservative caucus has a libertarian bent and the other half comes from the more conservative side.
So you can either scrap all grants for all parades, or you can fund the thing like you always have and devote your efforts to fixing the three or four other things that really do make a difference, none of which involves parades, costumes and nudity.

My ideal is to let everyone raise their own money to hold their parades and the police can be there to make sure that most of the people, keep on most of their clothes most of the time. That's never been a problem at the Rodeo Day parade in my town but then again it's usually cold in Alberta at the beginning of June.

Whatever. The bottomline is that after all the years Diane has contributed to building the conservative movement in Canada she deserves better then to be ratted out by a colleague on an issue that is a complete loser for the party.

Well said.

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