In early April, Ontario’s NDP government appointed two new members to the Metro Toronto Police Services Board, Catholic priest Massey Lombardi and social worker Laura Rowe. Rowe is a known lesbian, a mother of three, two of whom were born by means of artificial insemination (A1).
On May 1, Ontario Cabinet Minister Elaine Ziemba appointed lesbian Carmen Paquette of Vanier, a suburb of Ottawa, as one f\of five new Ontario Human Rights Commissioners.
The seven-member Metro police board sets the policies and priorities for the 6000-member Toronto police force. The members are also responsible for the force’s $530 million budget. The Province controls four of the seven seats, two of which were due for replacements this spring.
These have been filled with the latest appointments.
The police board appointment was preceded by a heated controversy about the abolition of the oath of loyalty to the Queen.
The abolition was a natural follow-up to the appointment of feminist Susan Eng to the Commission by the Liberal government two years ago. Eng refused to swear allegiance to the Queen when she assumed office. The idea was picked up by a Consultative Commission, which adopted the same attitude and extended it to cover the entire police academy of Ontario. Premier Rae’s office issued the definitive approval.
Today, Susan Eng is Premier Rae’s choice for the chairmanship of the commission.
The controversy about the oath overshadowed the appointments. But in both cases, the two lesbian women quickly repeated the two arguments generally used to disarm critics of such appointments:
“Although it’s part of who I am, it doesn’t have any bearing on my competence,” social worker Laura Rowe told the Toronto Star. (“There’s no dark secret here. Police Board member says: I’m a lesbian.” April 13, 1991).
And adult education specialist Carmen Paquette saw the appointment as “an important step in the recognition of gays and lesbians, who make up to 10 per cent of the province’s population.”
The very first thing Ms. Rowe told the Metro Police Services Board was that they should encourage gay and lesbian police officers to come out of the closet so others will join the force. All minority groups should be encouraged to join the force, she said. (Toronto Sun, April 118)
The Toronto Star obligingly carried a page-and-a-half story on Metro Constable Brian Agiuar who heads a support group for the 20 police officers who have adopted the ‘gay’ lifestyle. (“Cops out of the closet,”May 4, 1991)
Police Chief William McCormack was quoted as saying the force doesn’t consider an officers’ sexual preference an issue. He couldn’t very well say anything else.
Legislation passed in 1986 by then Attorney-General Ian Scott and the Liberal government forbids the Chief of Police or any other Ontario employer from regarding sodomy in anything but a positive light, that is, as just another ‘sexual preference’ which is perfectly normal and acceptable.
Those who refuse to hire practicing homosexuals may be taken to the Ontario Human Rights commission. And this body has just been given an outspoken lesbian as one of its commissioners.
Laura Rowe’s selection came directly from Premier Bob Rae’s appointments office. This office is headed by feminist Carol Phillips, who is now married to Gerald Kaplan, advisor to the NDP and a regular syndicated columnist in the Toronto Star.
Mr. Kaplan is an ardent supporter of every woman’s ‘right’ to abortion and a committed enemy of the pro-life cause.
The appointment is part of a drive to make homosexual activity respectable.
On December 20, 1990, Ontario Government Services Minister Frances Lankin announced that she would extend job benefits –medical care, dental insurance and dependant’s insurance – to the ‘gay’ and lesbian partners of civil servants.
This means that the definition of ‘spouse’ has been expanded de facto to include same-sex partners (The Interim, February 1991).
On January 29, 1991, Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba addressed a group of fifty homosexual/lesbian University of Toronto students, telling them she was preparing to fill a vacancy on the Human Rights Commission with a homosexual (The Interim, March 1991).
She, too, was following in the footsteps of former Liberal Attorney-General Ian Scott, who had contemplated doing the same thing himself when his party was turned out of office.
On March 11, Phyllis Clark, provincial director of compensation policy, announced that her Minister of Government Services, Frances Lankin, would soon appeal to the federal government to give lesbians and homosexuals the same pension as heterosexuals.
According to the Toronto Star, this move came “after Michael Leshner, a gay lawyer, who works for Attorney-General Howard Hampton, accused the New Democrats of turning a blind eye to Ottawa’s homophobic pension policy.”