Column: Progressive Views: Misrepresentation???

By Tristan Turner

Our Member of Parliament, Mr. Brian Storseth, has committed a cycle of misrepresentation of the citizens of Westlock-St. Paul. He has supported legislation that fundamentally violates the basic values of our community, from supporting the violation of women’s rights to creating laws that encourage hate speech, Storseth is governing as if he were in power decades ago, and not as if he was serving in the modern progressive Canadian society.

This year, Brian Storseth put a bill before parliament (Bill C-304) that would delete section 13 of the Human Rights Act that ensures the protection of individuals who were victims of hate speech transmitted over the phone or online. This legislation that was openly encouraged and heavily supported by white supremacist groups passed in the House of Commons earlier this year.

Mr. Storseth was gleeful at the opportunity to speak with extreme right-wing, socially conservative ‘news’ organizations about his bill earlier this year, so Storseth stopped over at his friend Ezra Levant’s place over at Sun News. Unsurprisingly, Levant offered his complete endorsement of C-304 claiming it “protected Canadian freedom”. Additionally, Storseth conducted an interview in February with the quaintly named radio program ‘Roadkill Radio’, an organization that completely endorses the criminalization of abortion and gay marriage. No surprise, the hosts, Kari Simpson and Ron Gray, both individuals who were brought to human rights tribunals after accusations of hate speech, were fond of Storseth’s bill that is likely to limit repercussions for those who attack others based on their race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

However, Mr. Storseth is not only a one-time offender of attacking social values that Canadians hold so dear. In fact, the organization Campaign Life Coalition, which consistently attacks the rights of homosexual Canadians, endorses the destruction of the fundamental woman’s right to choose and calls the Transgender Rights Bill “radical” and “reckless”, views Storseth favourably in contrast to other Canadian MPs. Of the Coalitions six major votes they use to determine their support or disapproval of an MP, Storseth has voted “favourably” in every case, according to the organization.

In fact, Storseth has shown a disturbingly consistent support for extreme socially Conservative issues. In 2006, Storseth voted Yea on Motion 12, a motion to reopen the same-sex marriage debate. In 2008, Storseth voted for Bill C-484, a bill that would be a major step towards criminalizing abortion. In 2011, Storseth voted against Bill C-389, a bill that would legally recognize transgender gender expression. And very recently, Storseth voted Yea on Motion 312 proposed by Tory MP Stephen Woodworth that would serve as a mechanism for re-entering the abortion debate.

Mr. Storseth was also quoted by the Redwater Tribune in 2006 as saying “I believe in a traditional marriage, between one man and one woman”.

These actions taken by our Member of Parliament show how out-of-date and out-of-touch he really is. Canada is a socially progressive society, one that respects the values, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientation of all members of our society. Storseth, along with many Conservative MPs, seem to show a very different vision of Canada. A less inclusive vision, that only involves a select few to be chosen as being a part of the Canadian franchise.

The people of Westlock-St. Paul deserve so much better than this socially regressive attitude taken by Storseth.

It is ridiculous that we are still debating issues like homosexual marriage and abortion. These issues have been decided, any Canadian has, as he or she should, the right to marry anyone, regardless of their gender, and Canadian women have the necessary right to choose an abortion. These are primary reasons why I am proud to be Canadian. I live in an accepting and open society, and it is exceedingly disconcerting for me to see this clear pattern of the suppression of these essential values associated with the very fabric of modern Canadian identity by our Member of Parliament.

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  1. Tristan,

    I applaud your expression of your opinion and the courage it takes to do so publicly. However, when I hear so much scorn and derision in such a short piece, that makes me re-think validity of the sender’s message.

    You have to be careful when using wide generalisations, such as “Canada is a socially progressive society, one that respects the values, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientation of all members of our society.” You are assuming that virtually everyone agrees with you. Having travelled to more than a couple countries around the world, I can tell you that Canada is quite progressive compared to countries such as Afghanistan, but has a long way to go before many European countries would consider us progressive.

    I would argue that these issues keep coming up because a number of people don’t agree with current legislation. While the number is not so large as to see the legislation on issues such as abortion change, it is still large enough to get attention. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a gay-hating anti-abortionist – just an average, somewhat educated citizen who has learned to not always agree with everything I read.

    Have you contacted Mr Storseth directly by letter or an office visit to discuss these issues? I hope the Morinville News will encourage Mr Storseth to publish a rebuttal to your piece. That will be something I look forward to reading.

    Good luck,


  2. Shame that Mr. Storseth doesn’t realize that rights protect other’s freedoms, not imposing on his own. He’s still free to choose to be in a marriage between one man and one woman.

  3. @ Brent – It does not matter whether most Canadians ‘agree’ on whether or not “values, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientation” deserve respect. Respect for those things is not debatable or contingent on public opinion – they are inherent rights, in the same sense that Canadians have the right to vote, hold office, and speak freely – and therefore, they are entitled to the same respect. You cannot legislate away those sort of rights – though I am certain some members of parliament would disagree with me.

  4. Stevie,

    The point I am trying to make is that the only reason that the rights you refer to are “inherent rights” is because the times, people and legislation changed to make them inherent. If not, alternative marriages, abortions and other things that were not part of “inherent rights” decades ago would still not be present today.

    For example, we consider it an inherent right for all Canadian citizens 18 years and over to be able to vote. However, this “inherent right” didn’t exist anywhere in Canada before Manitoba adopted it in 1916, and women in Quebec didn’t gain this “inherent right” until 1940.

    My argument is that if people’s opinions never change, then the fundament rights, inherent rights, won’t. By your statement, women would never have gained the vote or right to an abortion.


  5. First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your comments. I would say first that, I did not intend for this piece to be scornful in any way. I believe I kept my language to be critical, while not attacking Mr. Storseth himself, rather critiquing his voting record and cadence in the House of Commons since his election. In any case, it is far more reasonable then the bickering that can often be heard in the House of Commons.

    This is a critique, and I will never pretend that It does not attack Mr. Storseth’s performance, but that is a fundamental part of our Parliamentary democracy, questioning our representatives actions on policy critically. I take it vary seriously when my Member of Parliament makes consistent attacks on many fundamental rights of my fellow Canadians. Of course I am going to become defensive when Mr. Storseth continues acting in a manner ignorant of the rights of millions of Canadians.

    To the point on inherent rights, of course we have not always been fortunate enough to have the more accepting society that we have today, but these rights now have become an accepted and important part of Canadian society and identity, an I am incredibly disappointed to see our Member of Parliament legislating in ignorance of these rights that are now at the core of our society.

  6. Additionally, I have contacted Mr. Storseth directly on the issues I discuss here, and he has refused to comment.

    Stephen Dafoe, this publication’s editor, has indicated to me that Mr. Storseth will have an opportunity to publish a response if he wishes to do so.

    I hope Brian reads this, hears my concerns, and replies to my piece. As always I am thankful to those who dedicate themselves to public service, even if I do strongly oppose their policies.

  7. Tristan, are the views expressed by Mr. Storseth a new stand he is taking or has he always held these positions? I believe they would have been the views held by the majority, which is why he was voted in. That is the way this country is run, the people decide. Just be patient, your moral position is gaining strenght. It’s a matter of time before everyone is permitted to do what feels right despite the implication to society. I expect many of your peers will be voting for you when you become an MP.

  8. Nancy,

    Mr. Storseth has held these views for sometime, yes. However, many are not made aware of his stances on many social issues, which was one of the primary reasons why I wrote this piece of my bi-mothly column, to allow the constituents of Westlock-St. Paul the opportunity to completely understand Storseth’s stance on key social issues.

    The reality is that, although Storseth may have been elected, I do not believe his stance on abortion or gay marriage rights are the majority in his riding. In fact, the vast majority of Canadians are strongly opposed to the stances he has been taking, and I believe a sizable majority of the population of this riding also take an antithetical approach to Brian’s perspective.

    So why would he be elected then? Well, as I said before, the largest reason is that an enormous portion of his constituents are unaware of his voting record. Additionally, the Conservative brand is strong in Alberta, and many vote for the party leader’s positions and stances, rather than those of the candidate directly. Another important consideration is that most voters vote for a candidates economic policy rather than his or hers social policy.

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