Monday, July 18, 2005

All I ask is that you listen to me

Parse poll numbers however you want, but I think this seems to continue to imply that a platform of repealing same-sex marriage isn't exactly going to be a huge vote-winner for Tories. Canadians do not want their political leaders to undo historic legislation allowing gays to legally marry in the wake of a pledge from the Conservatives that they would do just that if elected. In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know. The results appear to bolster Prime Minister Paul Martin's remarks two weeks ago that Canadians do not want to revisit the issue, despite a promise by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that he would rescind the law if he becomes prime minister in an election expected next winter. "The Liberals have been successful in defining same-sex as an issue of rights, not as a moral issue" said Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of polling firm the Strategic Counsel. "And that prevails. Rights will also win over other issues." Part of that perception is due to skilful Liberal framing of the issue, true, but at this point, it doesn't really matter; support is widespread and at least indifferent to mildly positive, at a level substantial enough that it can't be explained away entirely as the product of leading polls, a cheerleading media, and suspiciously expedited, sub rosa debate and passage. How does that seem even more evident than in the raw numbers for the central question? Think about what this means: In a related question, 51 per cent of those surveyed said they do not support the idea of allowing gay couples to legally adopt, while 46 per cent said they do. That's a difference within shouting distance of the 3.1% margin of error. If nearly half the country is okay or indifferent towards gay couples adopting, it seems remarkably improbable that a solid majority would actively vote to repeal the impending official redefinition of marriage, and make that their single important election issue to boot. I realize it may come as bitter medicine to some, but if Conservatives are to form a government again in the foreseeable future, this doesn't look to be the hot-button issue vehicle upon which that feat can be accomplished. The sooner that albatross is thrown off for issues with genuinely promising electoral prospects, the better.

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