Woe is poor Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who keeps being presented with traps and choosing to walk straight into them.
Perhaps we should give the guy – who has been a politician the majority of his adult life – a break. He has only had about a dozen opportunities to find a satisfactory line about his position on same-sex marriage – including during the election campaign and after last week’s Conservative caucus meeting.
And Mr. Scheer has provided an answer! Albeit, not to the actual question of his personal views on same-sex marriage. But he has provided something that sounds like an answer in repeatedly insisting he respects the rights of “all Canadians.”
For whatever reason, Mr. Scheer will not actually say, “Yes, I support same-sex marriage,” if that is indeed what he means with his non-specific, well-rehearsed response. Maybe he has a good reason for that – a Harry Potter-like Voldemort situation, perhaps, where he can’t actually say the word gay, lest he awaken the ire of the Reform spirit lurking within his party.
Or perhaps the Conservative leader does not personally support same-sex marriage, which his voting record, past member statements and persistent refusal to elaborate on his views would suggest. But nevertheless, he seemingly believes that keeping his remarks vague, thus allowing Canadians to simply assume he is a bigot, is somehow preferable to releasing a genuine, reflective statement about how he reconciles his personal faith with his leadership commitments.
Just imagine if Mr. Scheer stood before reporters and said something that a human might say about the struggle to make sense of contradictory religious teachings and the extent to which he allows his faith to factor into his professional life. No Canadian could possibly relate to that.
Better to stick with the line that is ambiguous by design, which is bound to work on the 15th or 16th try and not at all convey that he is uncomfortable with same-sex marriage. Until then, his defenders should continue to call foul on the fact the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh haven’t been relentlessly prodded to express their own personal views on same-sex marriage and religion.
Granted, we already know what those leaders’ answers would be, based on their policy promises, participation in Pride events and unequivocal statements of support, among other things. Indeed, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Singh quite clearly support same-sex marriage, even if the orthodoxy of their respective faiths is that a union ought to be between a man and a woman.
But maybe we should prod them for answers just the same, because Mr. Scheer needs some time to go back and confer with his communications team, mostly about whether he should wear a blue tie or a grey tie the next time he avoids questions about the topic.
Anyway, there is a very good case to be made that the Conservative leader’s views are really nobody else’s business. Mr. Scheer is just an ordinary man who happened to choose a public life that potentially confers enormous responsibility over the lives of others. Indeed, why should Canadians feel entitled to know about the personal values of people who are positioned to wield extraordinary power over our rights, our laws and the way we live our lives?
The important thing to remember here is that during the election campaign, Mr. Scheer made a promise not to upset the status quo. That whatever his personal beliefs, Canadians can trust that he will not move backward on LGBTQ rights. And although he won’t actually say what his personal views are, for a reason on which he won’t elaborate, there’s probably a good reason just to go ahead and trust him anyway. The Conservatives might even offer that reason one day.
Until then, consider this a plea to leave the poor Conservative leader alone. Questions about whether he considers being gay a “sin” are so obviously out of line. Journalists should stick to more policy-based lines of inquiry if they want to hear Mr. Scheer dodge a particular question.
The bottom line is that some things in life are simply supposed to remain a secret, such as your bank PIN or your e-mail password, or whether the guy with aspirations to become prime minister thinks gay couples never should’ve been allowed to marry.
As a great man who won’t give his name once said: Opaqueness is the key to strong leadership. Mr. Scheer will eventually win over his detractors with his boldly ambiguous views. He just needs a little time, a dozen more opportunities and to finally select the correct colour tie.
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