Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Canada's first openly gay premier

Wow!   It's been a long time since I've posted.  It's  been extremely busy as we are between semesters at school;  supervising exams, marking them, preparing report cards and failure reports. 

Along with these Semester I tasks, we are getting ready for a new slate of Semester II classes... a double workload whammy!   I've also had a couple of my kids here this week and have been otherwise occupied with my new ... er... dating activities.   :-)

Ontario's new provincial premier*, Kathleen Wynn, is openly-gay, partnered and the mother of three adult children.  She's the first openly gay premier in the country's history, although there have been plenty of  openly-gay politicians elected to at all levels of government in Canada, except for the prime minister's office. 

*It should be noted that Ms. Wynn was NOT elected by the people of Ontario in a general election.  Rather, the current Liberal premier resigned after 23 years in politics and Liberal party delegates elected her at a recent convention.  The Liberals have been in power for nine years and face an uphill battle whenever the next election is held.

We've had our share of closeted politicians who were revealed to be gay only after they died, but the days when a Canadian politician could be in the closet are long gone.  Richard Hatfield, former premier of New Brunswick, was widely rumoured to be gay throughout his long political career in the 1970s and 80s.  It was apparently okay for a Canadian politician to be gay as long as he didn't "flaunt it", whatever that means.

Flash forward to 2011, when any Canadian politician snubbing the gay community would be widely viewed as taking a political risk.  This happened last year when the mayor of Toronto (Rob Ford ...a buffoon and an idiot) did not attend Toronto's 2011 Pride festivities.

A few things struck me about Ms. Wynn's appointment as premier:

When Ms. Wynn came out at the age of 37 over twenty years ago, she and her partner Jane Rounthwaite and her ex-husband arranged to live in neighbouring houses so their three children could go back and forth freely.

This is an ideal, accepting and mature arrangment which demonstrates a strong commitment to the children's well-being.  It would go a long way to allay one of the greatest fears of closeted married fathers;  that of losing contact with their children.   It reminded me somewhat of our summer arrangment, when my soon-to-be-ex-wife spends the entire summer at our friend's cottage a few kilometers down the beach from my home.  

I hadn't actually heard about Ms. Wynne being gay in the national media until she mentioned her partner in her acceptance speech, although it was widely known in her home area.   Today, the focus of a report on CBC Radio was not: "Is Ontario ready for a gay premier?"  but this new question.

"Are we ready to stop asking "Are we ready for a gay premier?""

 
If you can spare 22 minutes, click on the link above to listen to the whole interesting debate of the current state of gender, sexuality and politics in Canada.

6 comments:

  1. We have one ex-governor (in New Jersey) who was closeted during his term an who left office when his homosexuality was revealed. Another (in Florida) was widely believed to be gay but he remained closeted after leaving office. We've always believed down here in the U.S. that Canada was well ahead of us on gay rights.

    There certainly are gay members of Congress and gay mayors, but but that's as far along they've gotten in elective office. Now that you've explained Ms. Wynn's election process I think, with the huge progress we've made in the last year, we may have caught up to you. But it's only a matter of time before we have elected governors. The genie's out of the bottle and wonders are going to happen.

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  2. Psst. It's "Wynne", not "Wynn".

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  3. I try to keep up on Canadian Politics, somewhat to diminish ignorance but also be prepped for the day I may retire there. It is most interesting to see what is different and what is 'the same' as here.

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  4. Will and Dr. Spo: thanks for commenting! Yes, I actually don't know now progressive the USA is on having gay elected officials. It is mainly the really high-profile cases (such as the former New Jersey governor)reach the media here.

    I'm sure in the next generation and in most jurisdictions, a candidate's sexuality, race or gender will be a non-issue during elections.

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