The Conservative Party of Canada's platform has some objectively harmful religiously-motivated policies

So, the official party platform for the CPC as of February 2014 apparently has a bunch of real turds in amongst their planks.

Given that Canada’s heading into an election within the next two months (and given that this election might be the last I can actually vote in, despite being a tax-paying citizen), I want to make sure that my vote and my voice counts. The talking points are that we should vote on policy, and here’s their policy.

A good way to amplify my voice is to use what platform I have to inform people of some of the CPC’s official policies, e.g. the various regressions they’re actively trying to make happen despite being the party in power over one of the most progressive countries in the world.

Point 34 describes their views of union rights, including:

We support right to work legislation to allow optional union membership including student unions.

We support requirements for clarity and public transparency in financial returns from labour unions.

We believe that the government should prevent mandatory dues collected by unions from being diverted to fund political causes unrelated to workplace needs.

We believe that mandatory union membership and forced financial contributions as a condition of employment limit the economic freedom of Canadians and stifle economic growth.

“Right to work legislation” is laws that say that even if you benefit from a union’s negotiation, you don’t have to pay into the union’s dues. Since a union must always advocate for all workers indiscriminately, people can withhold giving money to that union and still benefit from their work. Therefore, it’s possible if enough conservatives work at a place with a union, they can starve the union out of existence by refusing to pay for it — letting unions erode and die “naturally” in those places where people are rooked by the conservative mindset.

Point 37, on intellectual property, includes this nugget:

We support the elimination of the levy on blank recording materials.

This private copying levy is the only thing keeping recording industry conglomerates from successfully suing Canadians indiscriminately for copying music presently. Getting rid of it removes pretty much the only barrier that the Canadian equivalent of the MPAA / RIAA has from treating copyright infringement as high-seas piracy, wrecking lives because some twelve year old downloaded a Justin Bieber song.

Point 56, on health care, has this telling phrase:

Flexibility for the provinces and territories in the implementation of health services should include a balance of public and private delivery options.

Private health care delivery is restricted in Canada to procedures not included under Medicare. Conservatives have long tried to back-door this fact, bringing privatized delivery of insured services so as to create the sort of money-making graft-enabling health care that the States “enjoy”.

Point 63 bans embryonic stem cell research for an INITIAL three years:

In recognition of the ethical and scientific concerns around research using human embryos, we support an initial three-year prohibition on embryonic research, and call on the federal government to encourage its granting agencies to focus on more promising adult (post-natal) stem cell research.

Which is interesting, because almost all embryonic stem cells come from aborted tissue, and while private members have done a bunch to abridge abortion rights, and Conservatives are ALWAYS finding new ways to wreck the legal framework under which abortions happen (cross-reference the Morgentaler Clinic in NB), they have this one lip-service point in 64:

64. Abortion Legislation
A Conservative Government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion.

And then immediately thereafter, undercutting their ostensible commitment to the importance of a person’s self-directed autonomy, in 65:

65. Euthanasia
The Conservative Party will not support any legislation to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.

They also want to privatize employment insurance in point 69:

The Conservative Party supports the establishment of an independent employment insurance
system, with a self-accounting fund administered by employees and employers, the surplus of
which being used to increase workers’ benefits or reduce contributions.

And point 70 is a boldly regressive commitment to destroying gay rights, emphasis mine:

70. Family and Marriage
The Conservative Party believes that the family unit is essential to the well-being of individuals and society, because that is where children learn values and develop a sense of responsibility. Therefore government legislation and programs should support and respect the role of the Canadian family.

We believe in the right and duty of parents to raise their own children responsibly according to their own conscience and beliefs. We believe no person, government or agency has the right to interfere in the exercise of that duty except through due process of law. We believe that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage.

We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We support the freedom of religious organizations to refuse to perform unions or allow the use of
their facilities
for events that are incompatible with their faith and beliefs.

Gay marriage has been legal nationwide since 2005, though before that, courts struck down anti-gay-marriage laws in particular provinces as being unconstitutional since 2003. Gay civil unions have been legal since 1999, and cohabitation rights equivalent to marriage rights established with the nationwide gay marriage laws were made retroactive to all people in such arrangements.

This policy is grossly regressive. It would effectively roll back, or allow the rollback of, 16 years of progressive policies that allow gay marriage and marriage rights nationwide, and that the rights of minorities should be determined by votes in Parliament instead of as matters of constitutionality. If that party plank is ever established, that single change would significantly shift the power from the courts to the Parliament. It would allow the Conservative-run government to pass all manner of laws that are unconstitutional, without recourse for the courts to overturn them.

But that’s not all. Point 79:

79. Faith Based Organizations

The Conservative Party supports the right of faith based organizations to refuse the use of their facilities to individuals or groups holding views which are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith based organization without fear of sanctions or harassment and that discrimination based on the beliefs of a faith based organization be excluded from the definition of disallowed discrimination under Human Rights.

So a religious organization violating a human right is exempt if their religion says they should violate that human right. In what progressive society does a fundamentally recognized human RIGHT as enshrined by our laws (for instance, reproductive health services, e.g. abortion) get superceded by an irrational but sincerely held belief? Why do these irrational beliefs get to defang any power of law behind calling something a human right? Any protections for trans folks afforded by bill C-279 (slim though they are, as it was amended to disallow “biological males from identifying as female to gain access to vulnerable persons”, a boogeyman that has happened exactly zero times) might be entirely nullified by bigots simply claiming their religion considers these people abominations.

That kind of loophole allows theocracies to flourish, and I cannot believe anyone who says that a party with this sort of regressive policy plank is on the side of human rights or that these policies could never have real impact if implemented.

Not that they haven’t already made a lot of really regressive policies happen. Like C-51, our own Patriot Act — a warrantless wiretapping surveillance state bill. So given any chance, I have no doubt in my mind that any or all of these planks will become law if we keep voting them in.

Remember this when you “vote policy” in this election. These are objectively harmful policies, and they throw into question any lip-service they pay in the same policy document to some of our core progressive principles.

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The Conservative Party of Canada's platform has some objectively harmful religiously-motivated policies
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5 thoughts on “The Conservative Party of Canada's platform has some objectively harmful religiously-motivated policies

  1. 1

    You mean the Cons represent a platform that facilitates discrimination? Colour me shocked. /end sarcasm

    Joking aside, the NDP also have some cute gems on the left side of quackery. Like permitting “alternative” medicine or banning nuclear energy. This isn’t actually an endorsement for the Cons, as at least the NDP are generally going after businesses rather than sticking cameras in people’s bedrooms, but it really illustrates that there’s no party attempting to represent a rational platform.

    And as a rationalist, I find that upsetting.

  2. 2

    I would be on board with:

    79. Faith Based Organizations

    The Conservative Party supports the right of faith based organizations to refuse the use of their facilities to individuals or groups holding views which are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith based organization without fear of sanctions or harassment and that discrimination based on the beliefs of a faith based organization be excluded from the definition of disallowed discrimination under Human Rights.

    provided it is paired with something like:

    “However, where faith based organisations reserve the authority to determine their own ecclesiastical law for themselves, the government reserves the authority to determine temporal law; including the authority to grant or withdraw the power to issue valid marriage licenses. Thus, those faith based organisations may choose to refuse certain marriages (e.g. gay marriages) in accordance with their faith, but will lose the power to marry as they are not inaccordance with the constitution.”

    (Admittedly the language is not very rigorous)

  3. 3

    Considering that the Harper government hasn’t done anything to destroy marriage equality yet, I have a feeling that one’s there for the benefit of their base. They know it’s too late to actually do anything about it now.

  4. 4

    I don’t know specifically about Canada, but in the USA, item 79 could be used to allow Catholic-affilitated hospitals to deny reproductive health care services to women. There’s a trend in the USA for hospitals to merge, such that a Catholic one that merges with a non-Catholic hospital somehow always becomes a new and bigger Catholic organization. Thus, access to health care keeps getting reduced, especially in rural communities where there might be only one hospital in the area.
    So any “amending” proposed for item 79 should also include some provision that facilities that get taxpayer funding in any way are not allowed to have rules based on viewpoints of specific faiths. Again, this would take work to have it worded in a way that would prevent them wiggling out of it, which is their top priority, with health care second.

  5. 5

    I am just disgusted with this. I want everyone to know how awful they are and what it will mean if they are voted in. Of course I know there are people who think this is a brilliant and the solution to everything, but if these policies are implemented, I think even the people who voted for it will regret it.

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