Sometimes it’s a good day

If there’s anyone in the Canadian political system who’s reading this and wants to make me an extremely happy guy, it’s really not that difficult. I’m a simple man who enjoys the finer things in life – a nice meal, a pint of good beer, a productive day at work, time spent with close friends… it doesn’t take a lot. What puts me over the moon is when politicians legislate like liberals and act like grown-ups.

Liberal ideas – promoting equality and long-term progress through evidence-based policy – are ideas that I can support. For reasons that surpass understanding, it is rare to see someone get tough with liberal ideas. Not tough in a macho, bullying kind of way, but tough in a “I believe in this, and am willing to fight for it” sort of way. Too often, perfectly defensible liberal ideas get bulldozed by threats of political ramifications or hurt feelings. However, there are rare moments when the planets align and politicians get tough on things I agree with, and those days make me happy.

Today is a very good day.

Dalton McGuinty finds backbone, supports sex ed

Ontario’s Liberal government says it is not prepared to abandon the sex-ed component of a pending anti-bullying law, despite criticism by some religious leaders Tuesday that it is an affront to traditional family values. Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives say they agree school bullies must be stopped, but they can’t condone a requirement under the legislation proposed to deal with it that schools promote sexual tolerance through gay clubs.

(snip)

Education Minister Laurel Broten rejected the criticisms expressed by the religious representatives as “homophobic,” and said her job was to make sure every child finds school a warm and inviting place, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other factors.

Dalton McGuinty is the premier of the province of Ontario (where Toronto is). A year and a half ago, he announced a bold plan to improve the teaching of sex ed in public schools across the province. It look 24 whole hours for him to tuck tail and run at the sight of the first “parental rights” agitators opposing his plan, demonstrating precisely the kind of feckless wimpery that I’ve sadly come to associate with politicians who share my views. With this story, however, he seems to have located his spine and brought it to bear in defense of his beliefs.

The icing on the cake in this story, for me at least, is that most of the opposition is coming on religious grounds. As is typical in these kinds of stories, this move is being cast as an affront to a parent’s right to indoctrinate their child with whatever stone age superstition they like, with the government expected to simply stand by while bigotry is passed off as morality. What these parents don’t seem to appreciate is that their religious instruction is having deleterious consequences on other people’s kids, and that the battlegrounds are being drawn in the schools, where the provincial government has more than a little authority.

They also seem to lack appreciation for what it says about the morality of their religious beliefs if “gay people exist and deserve equal treatment” is an explicit threat. It also doesn’t bode well that simply instructing kids in schools is going to overpower the One True Faith(tm) of your infallible deity. Then again, dealing in reality is not exactly compatible with religious instruction in the first place so maybe I’m simply throwing the pearls of wisdom before the swine of ignorance.

New RCMP head pledges to appoint more women

Bob Paulson promised swift action as he took official responsibility for all of the RCMP’s ailments, including boosting the number of women in senior ranks, cutting back at headquarters instead of on the front lines, and meting out stricter discipline.

(snip)

“We need to increase women coming into the force, we need to increase women in the senior executive ranks,” Commissioner Paulson said, explaining his goal is to have “more women in our decision-making process.”

Regular readers will remember the disgust and dismay with which I covered the recent sexual assault and harassment complaints coming from a former RCMP spokesperson. Bob Paulson is a new appointee (and both VeritasKnight and myself will be eating crow – he was appointed by the Republican North government) to the head of the police force, and is pledging not only to address the harassment complaint head-on, but to change the climate within the upper echelons of the force’s administration.

This is the first I have heard of Mr. Paulson (and you can start making Fight Club jokes whenever you like), but I am glad to see that he is willing to at least put words to the fact that the status quo is not sustainable within the command structure. I am obviously a proponent of increasing diversity in all types of decision-making bodies, but to see this kind of forward-thinking attitude in an ‘old boys club’ like federal policing is something that I simply did not expect to see.

There’s more good news from this story:

[National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Sean] Atleo insisted on the need for natives to work with the RCMP, although he also expanded on the historical tensions between first nations and Mounties. “The relationship that we have with the RCMP has moments of mistrust,” Mr. Atleo said. “We encourage you to remain vigilant and passionate about first nations policing and efforts to improve relationships between the RCMP and first nations communities.”

If Mr. Paulson is the kind of reformer that his speech suggests, and if he actually listens to Mr. Atleo’s counsel, then I may have to retract the prediction I made last week about the Keystone pipeline. We may see a new era in which the RCMP regains its image as a fair Canadian institution that is accountable to the people of Canada first and its self-interest second.

Yes, I realize I’m dreaming big, but this is such a good day. I’ll let the harsh light of reality shine into my thoughts tomorrow.

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