views on this issue are well known. My stand has been stated. I have said that
I support the traditional definition of marriage. That is a simple fact. The whole
issue around intimacy and rights is being debated now. It is in front of the courts.
We will continue to work on this issue and debate it. At this particular point
in time my position has not changed."
May 27, 2004
deathbed conversion for Dennis Mills?
A quiet spring evening and my lawfully wedded spouse, Kevin Bourassa, and I decided to go for a post-dinner walk. Trudging home, the guilty pleasure of ice cream weighing heavy upon my thighs, we happened past the campaign headquarters of our current Member of Parliament (Toronto-Danforth) Dennis Mills. As is our custom when passing this place, in unison, we shouted at the cardboard likeness of Mr. Mills: "LIES!"
A smiling assistant, standing in the doorway, admonished us for not being nice as we grinned at each other. Suddenly, to our wondering eyes, the candidate himself appeared. Mr. Mills, sporting a smile that has endeared vice-principals to the hearts of concerned parents, came forward, hand extended. His manner suggested that he was delighted to make our acquaintance, although we had met before.
In March of 2001, Kevin and I called at the office of our MP to ask him about his stance on the issues of LGBT rights and in particular his opposition to gay marriage. Mr. Mills indicated at that time, he understood our frustration and that he was 'struggling' with the issue, although to reassure us he insisted that his daughter was on our side.
Two years later, much water has passed under the bridge since that first encounter with our MP. We have worked to bring same-sex marriage to Canadians while Mr. Mills has worked to bring the Pope and Mick Jagger to Canada. We thought it necessary to re-introduce ourselves and engage our MP in an impromptu debate.
First, we wagged our finger at Dennis for not fulfilling his promise to convert a derelict building into social housing for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty . On November 8, 2003, Dennis Mills signed a declaration stating that if he did not deliver on his promise, then he would resign. On December 5, Dennis claimed the deal was done, but as of January 2004 no progress had actually happened, other than Mr. Mills claiming the deal was done. When questioned, Mr. Mills used his coy 'oh-if-you-only-knew-how-politics-works-tone' and indicated that he had fulfilled his promise and saved some kids "going to the hospital" (6 months after his missed deadline, it looks like Mills has delivered in time for his re-election campaign).
Kevin then showed Mr. Mills the logo on his jacket (our logo and this website address) and Mr. Mills dropped his eyes.
Using the same tone he had two years ago, Dennis sighed, "I struggle."
Kevin recalled our previous meeting and asked how Dennis, a self-proclaimed Trudeau liberal, could claim the party of Trudeau as his own when he didn't respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "How can you be about exclusion?", Kevin asked. "How can we not have a place at your table?"
"You do have a place at my table and exclusion is not what I am about," Dennis tried to assure us.
I was about to ask if our place at his table was as waiters, but Dennis was gushing on, evoking the name of a Canadian human rights champion as he said, "I told one of Svend's aides that."
Kevin tried to get our MP to say that he would respect equality for all Canadians by supporting equal marriage.
Smiling at us as though we were two quaint but slightly hard of hearing children, Dennis repeated his non-committal "I am struggling" chorus.
We encouraged him to resolve his struggle soon. What better time than during an election campaign in one of the most hotly contested ridings in Canada? Mills is running against NDP leader Jack Layton (a supporter of marriage equality). Mills could help his campaign by removing the charges of bigotry and Liberal betrayal that stem from his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"If my incremental rate of change costs me my seat, then so be it," Mills said fatefully. He assured us that we would speak again and with a cheery wave, as if to bolster our resolve, he offered further hope.
"Maybe I'll have a deathbed conversion," Dennis said. "Pray for me."
we be praying for Stephen Harper too, we wondered?
Mr. Mills did not welcome the comparison.