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In an example of Bush-style gay bashing, Conservative leader Stephen Harper has opened his party’s campaign by attacking the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

Yesterday, Harper said he would allow a free vote in the House of Commons to overturn the existing law legalizing same-sex marriage. Parliament voted to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage last spring, but it seems the Conservatives can’t accept that their agenda was defeated.

Harper’s statement had all the earmarks of U.S. President George W. Bush’s campaign to mobilize the religious right by organizing referenda on gay rights in key states. Canada’s Conservatives are trying the same divisive strategy of campaigning by attacking a specific group of people.

Harper has shown that his party’s agenda is a socially conservative one, attempt to dictate Canadian’s values to them. Last night he proved that the Tories have no intention of supporting the concept of equality.

Harper’s hidden agenda is no longer hidden. His party’s social conservatism is “out”, and it turns the majority of Canadians off.

Clearly, Harper’s “ordinary, mainstream Canadians” don’t include all Canadians. The Liberals can’t be let off the hook, either. It remains unclear how much Martin’s Liberals will support gay and lesbian rights.