Former gay PQ head quits politics

MONTREAL – Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair, the first open homosexual to be chosen leader of a major party, has announced he will leave politics. His party fell to third, behind the Liberal Party of Quebec and Action Democratique in March, and he subsequently was forced from the party’s leadership. Few pundits blamed his sexual orientation (or his admitted cocaine use during a previous tenure as a cabinet minister in the government of Bernard Landy), but Campagne Quebec Vie president Luc Gagnon told The Interimthat, despite the claim the province is socially more liberal, many Quebeckers were uncomfortable with an openly homosexual man seeking the premiership.

Ottawa Anglicans back gay ‘blessings’

OTTAWA – By a vote of 177-97, delegates at the annual synod of the Ottawa diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada, which covers eastern Ontario and western Quebec, approved same-sex “marriage” blessings. The synod, meeting in Cornwall, asked Bishop John Chapman to permit clergy “whose conscience permits” to bless such unions. Retired Newfoundland bishop and Anglican Network of Canada moderator Donald Harvey told the Toronto Star,“It goes to the very opposite direction to what the international church is going.” Ron Chaplin, a warden with St. John the Evangelist Church in Ottawa, introduced the contentious motion and said he did not intend to inflame the debate within the Anglican communion with his actions, although he also said he expects to see other dioceses discuss similar proposals. The Anglican Network has said the move makes it more likely they will join forces with more conservative U.S. Episcopalian churches to create a more theologically orthodox church.

Murder-suicide sparks media to start mercy-killing debate

TORONTO – Sarah Stein, an 84-year-old woman bound to a wheelchair 15 years after suffering a stroke, was shot and killed by her son, Percy, 66, who proceeded to kill himself. He was her primary caregiver and claimed in his suicide note that she did not want to live without him. He had recently been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. In one of his suicide notes, Percy Stein said, “I feel it is time to be with God” and apologized “for the sins we have committed in our lives,” referencing both himself and his murdered mother. Despite the media’s general reluctance to cover suicides in any detail for fear of glamourizing such actions, in this case, journalists used the story to highlight the causes of both euthanasia and the future challenges an aging population presents to the country. The Toronto Starpointed out that a growing number of seniors are being taken care of by their adult children and that when their children feel vulnerable or face their own illnesses, the situation for their parents can become perilous, especially considering people’s fears over nursing homes.

Drug strategy unveiled

WINNIPEG – The federal Conservative government announced it will introduce legislation to tackle illegal drug use, including mandatory minimum prison sentences for criminals convicted of serious drug charges. Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted that “currently, there are no minimum prison sentences for producing and trafficking dangerous drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine.” Harper noted drug use takes a toll on the country’s healthcare system and fuels other crime. He said, “Narcotics destroy lives. They rob young people of their futures, they tear families apart, they make our streets less safe and they lay waste to our communities.” Two-thirds of the $64 million anti-drug program will go to prevention and treatment programs, including a national public awareness program aimed at youth. Liberal MP Keith Martin and NDP MP Libby Davies both said the government should do more to support so-called harm reduction programs, such as Vancouver’s InSite safe injection project, which recently got a reprieve when Ottawa announced funding would be extended through June. Harper called harm reduction programs a “second-best strategy at best.”

Left-leaning pols skip prayer breakfast

WINNIPEG – Liberal and NDP MPPs refused to attend the first Manitoba Prayer Breakfast, a Christian event modeled on similar prayer breakfasts in Ottawa and other Canadian and U.S. cities. Like the event in the nation’s capital, it is a non-partisan Christian prayer breakfast, but Liberal MP Anita Neville (Winnipeg South-Centre) and NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre) both refused to attend the event, which sold 500 tickets to city businessmen, politicians and religious leaders. Martin said he would attend an interfaith breakfast, but not an ecumenical Christian prayer event. “I’m not comfortable with that.” Neville said, complaining that it was “Christian-driven,” and adding that “in this day and age, given the diversity, not only among our politicians but among our population, it should be” an interfaith event. She called the breakfast “exclusive, not inclusive.” Helen Toews, provincial director of Nation at Prayer, said the breakfast, while Christian, is welcoming of other religions.

Mayor criticized for perceived anti-gay remark

CALGARY – Mayor Dave Bronconnier, who won re-election, faced the wrath of gay rights activists after indicating he did not support Tourism Calgary’s decision to promote the city as a destination for homosexuals. During a public debate, and in response to a question from a member of the audience, Bronconnier said about the gay lifestyle, “That’s not something I can condone,” although he added that the decision is Tourism Calgary’s and not his. After homosexuals chastized the mayor for calling homosexuality a lifestyle and implying it is a choice, Bronconnier backtracked, saying that what he could not condone was the question being asked, not the gay lifestyle.