In the wake of Kathleen Wynne's victory in the race to become the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, the inevitable, perennial questions are being asked; the "are the voters ready" questions that the media asks every time a potential leader who is not a Christian, white-man in a suit is facing the public. Kathleen Wynne is now the first openly gay premier in Canada, a perfect talking point for a media machine that thrives on short-lived, usually meaningless issues that generation paper sales, tv viewership, and hits on websites. So everyone ponders aloud in a cacophony of media noise - "Can an openly gay premier win an election in Canada?"
But as it is in most cases the question is fairly meaningless. Kathleen Wynne will probably lose the next election and fail to become the first openly gay person to actually become "elected" to the office of premier. The provincial Liberal Party is deeply unpopular in Ontario for reasons that have nothing to do with Ms Wynne's sexual preferences. Despite all the back-patting that was bestowed upon Former Premier Dalton McGuinty at this weekend's Liberal convention, he was a shockingly incompetent premier. Besides being a lapdog of the growing corporate ideology that has so badly infected the federal and provincial Liberal parties in Canada, Mr McGuinty has deeply damaged the Liberal brand in Ontario with his continual partizan motivations. Like so many political party leaders (including our Fuhrer Harper) it is the blatant, undisguised partizan efforts that destroyed McGuinty. The final straw for McGuinty was, of course, the imposition of an outrageously illegal bill to take away basic democratic rights from teachers. In a blatant effort to win two fall bi-elections McGuinty bit the very hand that arguably first brought him to office. And after guaranteeing that the Liberal Party cannot be reelected McGuinty high-tailed it out of town and, a-la Mulroney, he left a woman to clean up his mess.
But I digress.
The point is that because of the vagaries of politics, we probably won't know if, under ideal conditions, Ontario voters are ready to elect an openly gay woman to the office of the Premier. However, the fact that such an outcome seems in no way beyond the pale, demonstrates at least one thing - as long as you are ready to tow the anti-union, corporate, establishment line, you can probably get elected no matter what your sexual preferences might be. Here is the real rub. Scott Brison, earswhile Tory, now Liberal MP for the riding of King-Hants in Nova Scotia, spoke on CBC's The Current this morning, saying that he once thought that when he came out as gay he would be precluded from entering political service in this country. However, it turned out that as long as Mr Brison maintained the corporate line, which he has done very effectively for many years, he could sleep with whoever he wanted.
All of this is not so say that the political offices in this country will tolerate NO dissent to the corporate ideology. Though corporate media has effectively precluded, say, an openly socialist person from gaining any real political power, there is still some, however small, variation of political ideas in Canadian politics. But, in political terms, the room for manoeuvre is increasingly small in our legislative houses, as it is everywhere.
And despite the fact that the social/sexual restrictions have seen significant liberalization in recent years, there are still many such limits to power. For example I would be surprised if you could find a single MP (or even MPP) in Canada who is openly Atheist. And even if you could find a few, it is clear that someone who professes to have no theistic beliefs at all would have NO chance of holding significant political office. And the fact that I think that Hockey is irretrievably stupid and that competitive sports in general are not only silly but actually bad for people and society, would mean that I would have no chance of gaining public office.
The fact is that more and more sexual orientation means less and less to people. The corporate, hierarchical structure of our society can use gay people as effectively as it uses straight ones. Gay, straight? Who cares, as long as you are willing to tow the capitalist/competitive line. What voters really aren't ready for today is not the Kathleen Wynnes of the world, but people who are willing to question the basic structures of competitive, corporate, hierarchical ideology that maintains our systems of power.