Categories for Musings

In Tuesday’s Sun: I sang Glad to be Gay

My parents thought I was gay.

In Seventies-era Calgary, this was a rather big deal. I had been writing pro-gay editorials in my school papers, I had been listening continuously to the Tom Robinson Band’s British hit (‘Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay’), I visited the Parkside Continental more than once, I wore black all the time, and most my friends at Bishop Carroll High School were gay, closeted or otherwise. We were the art-music-poetry-punk rock crowd, and a gayer bunch could not be found in Calgary, in those days.

Things got a bit queer, as it were, when my parents heard the first single by my band, the Hot Nasties. On the lead tune, ‘Invasion of the Tribbles,’ I hollered that I wanted to “make sweet passionate love” to someone named “Johnny.” That little bit of lyricism got the eyebrows popping around our archly-conservative Lake Bonavista neighbourhood, let me tell you.

So – to make a long story short – my parents thought I was gay. We grew up in a pretty gay-positive household, because my Dad was an immunologist, and one of the first physicians in Canada to deal with what would come to be known as AIDS and HIV. Their concern, if I can call it that, was that I would get outed, and therefore beaten up in Calgary, which – in those days – happened a lot.

I wasn’t gay, but rumours persisted throughout high school and university that I was. Back then, it was a big deal.

Nowadays, apparently, it is no longer such a big deal. Case in point: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

During the Ontario Liberal leadership campaign, plenty of folks – and not just red-necked mouth-breathers – wondered if Wynne’s sexual orientation would hurt her when the election rolled around. The “issue” never showed up in any public opinion polling, because no reputable pollster ever asked about it, to my knowledge. But folks in all three of Ontario’s main political parties quietly reflected on how a married gay Premier would play in, say, Bancroft.

To the credit of Wynne’s opponents – NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and soon-to-resign PC leader Tim Hudak – no mention was made of Wynne’s sexuality, implicitly or explicitly. It did not factor in the election in the way that jobs did, or some other issue. It didn’t come up.

Wynne won a majority, capturing five more seats than the 54 needed. She did so because Hudak’s vote collapsed, and because – take note, homophobes – she is a rather nice person. People liked her more than they liked the alternatives.

Wynne didn’t win because of some super-brilliant move by her strategists, or due to some extraordinary unprecedented event. She – the first openly-gay Ontario political leader – won because of HER. Her, the gay person. Voters thought about it, probably, and they ended up not caring.

The best response to her victory came from veteran journalist Kevin Newman. I loved what he wrote on Twitter: “Ontario has elected a woman who is openly gay. And it didn’t matter. I love my country. (Not a partisan endorsement. A human one).”

Whether you voted for Kathleen Wynne or not, whether you live in Ontario or not, how amazing it is that she won.

There are many more miles to go, of course. But – so far, so good.

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Toronto mayoralty: that’s not cricket!

Here’s Olivia’s cricket photo (she knows the sport rather well, as I’ve learned):

Aaaand, here is a super-creepy cricket photo of John Tory and his long-time pal, Doug Ford:

I ask you, Toronto: who would you prefer as chief batsman?  The answer is rather obvious, old chap.

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In Friday’s Sun: no dope

Good people of Scaraborough-Agincourt, we give you Liberal Party candidate Arnold Chan. You should vote for him not so much for what Arnold has done – but for what the Conservative Party hasn’t.

To be precise, the Conservative Party hasn’t behaved itself in the Toronto riding, which was formerly the domain of one Jim Karygiannis. This week, the ruling party circulated noxious flyers all over Scarborough-Agincourt, much in the way that the Axis used to drop propaganda leaflets on advancing Allied troops. As in that case, the Tory propaganda is unlikely to defeat the Grit forces.

Take a look at the leaflet in question, if you don’t believe us. On one side, there is a photograph of Karygiannis, alongside a quote in which he is critical of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. The Conservatives apparently think this is a big deal. Apparently they are unaware that Karygiannis – who stood astride Scarborough-Agincourt, like a Greek colossus of Rhodes, for more than 25 years – has disparaged every Liberal leader for a generation. Karygiannis being critical of Liberal leaders isn’t in any way news.

The flip side of the glossy Conservative Party leaflet is truly news, however, and voters in the June 30 Scarborough-Agincourt by-election should take note. It is, as Trudeau himself said, disgusting. It is a disgrace.

The leaflet displays an unflattering photograph of a goateed Trudeau, alongside a boy who is smoking a joint. Smoke is wafting towards Trudeau, and the leaflet states that “Trudeau wants marijuana in local stores, just like alcohol and cigarettes.”

Well, no, actually, he doesn’t. Trudeau’s marijuana policy – over which the Conservative Party has been obsessing, for more than a year – is one that is supported by plenty of folks, including veteran police officers. If implemented carefully, it is a sensible, reasonable approach.

Says Trudeau: “Our current approach on marijuana is failing in two primary ways. The first one is it is not protecting our kids from the negative impacts of marijuana on the developing brain. Secondly, we are funneling millions upon millions of dollars each year into organized crime and criminal gangs.”

Does that sound, to you, like Justin Trudeau and his party wish to sell “marijuana in local stores, just like alcohol and cigarettes”? No, it doesn’t. In fact, it sounds like Trudeau wants to move aggressively to keep dope away from kids – and that he wants to inflict maximum damage on criminal organizations that profit from trafficking in it.

So, in other words, the Conservative Party leaflet – which was fraudulently designed to look like it came from Jim Karygiannis, not the Conservatives – is a lie. More significantly, it will not work.

Here is something that can be placed on another leaflet: one, about fifty polls have been conducted since Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader. He has been far ahead of Stephen Harper in all but a couple of them. Two, the Conservatives’ bizarre, infantile fixation on marijuana – which just about every living adult Canadian has tried, at least once – hasn’t helped them one bit. There is evidence (see point one) that it may even have hurt them.

There is a year left until the Conservative Party’s mandate runs out. If their idiocy in Scarborough-Agincourt is going to remain their political strategy, it will be their last year in power.

Remember that name, Scarbough-Agincourt: Arnold Chan. By voting for him, you have a unique opportunity to send the Conservative Party a message.

That is, it is Stephen Harper who is acting like he is on drugs. Not Justin Trudeau.