Wednesday, July 27, 2005

McGuinty responds to Montfort

Yesterday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a major injection of cash into l'Hôpital Montfort in Ottawa.

This is quite the turn-around for the Franco-Ontarian community. Montfort, the only French-language teaching hospital in Ontario, had been slated to close under the Mike Harris government. A major lobbing campaign, S.O.S. Montfort, was launched by the Franco-Ontarian population, including a legal campaign to block the closure of the hospital. In 2001, the Ontario court of appeal ruled in their favour. Under yesterday's announcement, the hospital is poised to double in size.

This is excellent news for the francophone community in Ontario. Access to French-language health care services in Ontario only came about as the result of a concerted lobbying effort throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Successive governments dragged their heels on this issue, until the Peterson government came up with a new French Language Services plan for the province in the mid-80s. Access to health care in one's own language is probably second only to education as a priority area for official language services. If you have ever tried to go to a doctor who did not speak your language, you know this from first hand experience. Encountering the medical system can be a terrifying experience, and it becomes worse when you are only half-understanding what your doctor is telling you.

The decision of the Harris government to try to close the only hospital in the province that was training francophone doctors was an act of callous stupidity. I'm pleased to see that not only is the McGuinty government keeping Montfort open, but they are committing to increased growth for French language health care services in the province.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bosom friends Anne Shirley and Diana Barry free to wed

With a few quick strokes of the pen today, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson will sign Bill C-38 into law. Gay and lesbian couples in Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Nunuvut and Northwest Territories will be able to join their brethren in the rest of the country in being able to wed as federal legislation on civil marriage goes into effect.

It's been a long and bumpy road, but I'm glad we've made it. In some respects, it happened faster than I thought it would, in other respects, much slower. My husband and I got engaged in the winter of 2002 and had our wedding ceremony in May 2003. Little did we know, during the year of wedding preparations, agonizing over invitation lists, planning the wording of our vows, selecting our officiants, and folding the 1000 paper cranes that would decorate the room, that the Ontario courts would legalize gay marriage only a month after our ceremony. There was no way to predict that. We were ready to get married, and didn't think that the law was likely to change any time soon.

A month later, the decisions in Ontario and British Columbia came down. We knew that we were going to get the legal documentation for our marriage, but since the Chretien government indicated that it wasn't going to appeal the decision, we thought we would wait until the government had passed legislation to cover same sex marriage from coast to coast - we didn't want to have to have to jump through the legal hoops more times than necessary. We could wait another several months for a majority government with little else on its plate to do the necessary.

As of June 2004, the Martin government had amended the Supreme Court reference on gay marriage - compounding the cowardice of the Chretien government which should have simply passed the legislation itself - pushing any chance of a decision to the fall. Then his numbers started to plummet, and it looked like a Conservative government was a real possibility. My husband and I decided, in the midst of an election campaign, that we were not going to miss out on having a legal gay marriage, even if it were overturned by a Harper government. We got legally married on June 24, in the heat of the election campaign.

A minority victory brought a sigh of relief from us, since we knew that at least the court decisions would be safe, even if federal legislation was still hanging in doubt. It would be another year before Bill C-38 made it through the House of Commons. It was that two year process from the Ontario court ruling to June 28th, 2005 which surprised me. It could have moved forward so much more decisively. But hey, I'll take it. Hopefully Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain are just the start.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Under the radar with Ralph Klein

Interesting. Clearly the big news that is going to dominate Alberta and national headlines today is Ralph Klein's announcement of his so-called "Third Way" approach to health care.

This little tidbit, that he's caving in on gay marriage will likely be completely ignored.

Except by me, and perhaps a few others. Enjoy the celebrations, gay and lesbian Albertans!

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Spiralling towards Oblivion - Canada's Catholic Church

When I read today's article in the Globe about the Catholic church refusing to allow NDP MP Joe Comartin to participate in lay church functions, which followed on earlier reports that Charlie Angus had been denied communion, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. As many other bloggers have pointed out, the hypocricy is staggering, given the number of other people who are allowed to receive communion, right up to the level of the priest, who have violated Catholic church teachings.

The timing on this is remarkably stupid. If you are going to try to exert this form of pressure on MPs who supported equal marriage, why not do it before the vote passed? What do you think they can do at this point? This is not about anything other than punishment at this point, and it smacks of "small-town" pettiness. (quoth Gomery)

I was raised in the Catholic Church, and attended Catholic schools until the end of high school. I actually left the church before I realized that I was gay. There were a number of other teachings that I couldn't stomach (particularly in terms of the lack of equality for women). After listening to papal missives for the past several years as a gay man, I'm glad that I left. This is an institution which is completely resistant to change, even when it would help the Church. Why are there still no women priests? Why are priests not allowed to marry? What happened to all the teachings about forgiveness?

A small, vindictive part of me hopes that this is just the first step for the Catholic Church. Start with refusing communion to those who accept homosexuals as people deserving of human dignity, then refuse it to those who have been divorced, those who approve of contraception, and work your way down the list. Pretty soon there will be almost nobody left. Some really consistent action on that front may finally collapse the institution in Canada, and then Canada can start ignoring the likes of Bishop Henry, Bishop Fabbro and the rest.

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