Last edited: March 26, 2005

2nd Homophobic Scandal Hits Canadian Political Party in Week, November 29, 2003

By Ben Thompson, Newscenter, Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA—A legacy of homophobia continues to linger over the Canadian Alliance, Canada’s official opposition party in Parliament, despite the censure of its family affairs critic over comments he made this week to a Vancouver newspaper.

And, just as party leader Steven Harper thought he had cleaned up the mess, a new controversy involving anti-gay comments by another Alliance MP erupted Friday.

The ruckus began Thursday when Alliance MP Larry Spencer told the Vancouver Sun that homosexuality should be criminalized. Spencer said that gay rights are the result of a conspiracy that began in the 1960s when gay activists embarked on a “well-orchestrated” campaign to “convert” young boys in school playgrounds and locker rooms to homosexuality and to “deliberately infiltrate the North America’s judiciary, schools, religious community and the entertainment industry.

Within hours of the publication of the interview, Alliance leader Harper fired Spencer as the party’s critic for family affairs and “temporarily” removed him from the caucus.

Spencer issued an apology later in the day, saying he regretted making the comments, as politicians from various parties called for his removal from Parliament.

On Friday, a second Alliance MP, Reed Elley, refused to back away from a speech he made two years ago condemning the decriminalization of homosexuality.

“People can read the speech and if they don’t agree with my historical assessment that’s their prerogative,” Elley told The Vancouver Sun in response to a question.

In the speech Elley said an increase during the 1960s of single-parent families and the stand taken by bra-burning, vengeful feminists, led to a “gradual blurring of the sexes” and a rise in “militant” homosexuality.

“In 1968 then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau mouthed his infamous words ‘the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,’” Elley told MPs who were debating the government’s extension of benefits to same-sex couples.

“He and his cohorts passed omnibus justice legislation which legitimized behavior which until then for centuries had been considered outside the realm of normal and good family and personal relationships.

“He legitimized homosexuality between consenting adults. At that point in Canadian history, I believe our government started its assault on traditional family and marriage.”

Contacted by various newspapers other members of the Alliance refused to say what their position was on the two MPs.

The scandal comes as the country’s other right of center party, the Progressive Conservatives is about to vote on a merger with the Alliance, to unite the right.

The Conservatives, already deeply divided on the merger became more so after Spencer’s interview. At least one Tory MP said he would not run for re-election under the banner of a united party.

Former Conservative prime minister Joe Clark, who opposes the merger, said Spencer’s remarks should serve as a “clear warning” to moderate Tories, who may want to reconsider their support for the creation of a single party.

“The comment is not the first to come from an Alliance/Reform MP and Progressive Conservatives should know it will not be the last,” Clark said.

Even current Tory leader Peter MacKay, who supports amalgamating the parties, blasted Spencer for his remarks.

“I’m shocked frankly that a person would have those thoughts, let alone express them in such a fashion,” MacKay said.

“There’s no question it was ugly. There’s no question it is completely negative and completely unacceptable.

“Gays and lesbians cannot be singled out, cannot be spoken of in such derogatory fashions. No sector of society deserves to be treated in that fashion.”

This weekend Conservative party members select their delegates for a Dec. 6 ratification meeting on the merger.

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