How many of you remember what you said and did 10 years ago? How about 15 years? How about 20, 25 – or more?
Most people would prefer not to revisit these periods of ancient history. Some were silly. Others were embarrassing. Still others were downright awful.
Had iPhones and other handheld devices been readily available years ago, many of today’s columnists and political commentators wouldn’t have their jobs. Many readers would be in the same boat.
But most people learn from their mistakes and previous positions, and continue to grow and develop. They may have similar views and values, but have adjusted aspects of their thinking. They may have switched to middle-of-the-road positions on certain issues. They may have transformed entirely.
The one thing that’s clear is we all change with the passage of time.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, however, recently attempted to convince Canadians otherwise when it comes to federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Last week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a video of Scheer addressing the House of Commons in 2005 during debate over the Civil Marriage Act. (It would pass 158-133, with 93 Tories, 32 Liberals and one New Democrat among the opponents.)
“There is no complementarity of the sexes,” Scheer said during the debate. “Two members of the same sex may use their God-given free will to engage in acts, to co-habit and to own property together. They may commit themselves to monogamy, they may pledge to remain in a loving relationship for life.
“In that sense, they have many of the collateral features of marriage,” he continued, “but they do not have its inherent feature, as they cannot commit to the natural procreation of children. They cannot, therefore, be married.”
The re-release of this 14-year-old video, which anyone could have found by doing a little research, triggered the political left. The decision to unveil it just before the Capital Pride parade in Ottawa (what a coincidence!) enabled the Liberals and NDP to attack Scheer’s decision to not participate in it – and claim his old views were unchanged.
It’s true that Scheer opposed the 2005 act. Goodale supported it but rejected a similar private members’ motion in 1995. The Liberal cabinet minister even supported a 1999 motion stating that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.
Goodale’s position wasn’t unique. There was a time when many Liberals opposed gay marriage for moral reasons. One of them was former prime minister Jean Chretien, who introduced the Civil Marriage Act in 2003. As he told the Canadian Press in June 2017, “Being a Roman Catholic from rural Quebec, it was not easy.”
It wasn’t even unique to Canada.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat if ever there was one, didn’t support gay marriage until 2012. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton didn’t change her position until the year after Obama did.
Scheer has modified his position, too.
He’s welcomed gay Tories to run for the party. He opposes attacks against gay communities around the world. He’s also said on several occasions he respects Canadian law when it comes to gay marriage, that he won’t re-open this debate if he becomes prime minister and the issue is over.
You can’t be more clear than this.
At the same time, who cares if Scheer goes to a pride parade? This shouldn’t be the imaginary bar that determines an individual’s tolerance or intolerance of gay people. If he wants to attend one day, he will. If he doesn’t, then he’ll continue to be part of the overwhelming majority who don’t go to pride parades – and don’t have any issues with Canada’s gay community.
Finally, let’s consider Conservative activist Zehavi Zynoberg’s powerful Aug. 22 tweet: “I’m an openly gay male who supports the @CPC_HQ. I may not agree with some party members on their views, but @AndrewScheer has evolved on this argument – much like the rest of the party and country since 2005.”
The Scheer of 2005 isn’t the same as the Scheer of 2019. His Liberal and progressive critics know it, but they won’t accept it.
Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.