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Egale Canada honours the architect of Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution

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Egale Canada, a national organization whose mission is to "advance equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people and their families," is presenting its first ever leadership award to Jaime Watt, one of the main architects of Mike Harris's "Common Sense Revolution". Watt is also Egale's benefactor and landlord: his consulting firm, Navigator, donates office space to Egale.

What can explain this decision, other than turpitude or stupidity on Egale's part?

If this award is not a tawdry quid pro quo, Jaime Watt does not deserve it. The "Common Sense Revolution" he engineered slashed health care funding, closing hospitals, like Toronto's Wellesley Hospital, that housed AIDS patients; it defunded sex reassignment surgery; it cut social assistance and social housing and removed rent controls, disproportionately hurting people living with AIDS and other vulnerable queer populations. Mental health facilities were slashed, and in schools, anti-racist and anti-homophobia educational programs were targeted. In the areas of AIDS treatment, education, and risk prevention, the government's record was one of inaction. In the area of equality rights, Watt boasts about Bill 5, a law giving same-sex common-law couples the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex common-law couples. However, the Harris government only passed this law because the Supreme Court forced them to. When the previous Rae government tried to pass same sex rights legislation, Watt's party attacked them for it.

Watt has done precious little for gay rights in this country, beyond a bit of latter-day fundraising. Perhaps it is only fitting that someone who has done little but fundraise is being honoured by an organization that now does little but fundraise. With the winning of same-sex marriage rights in Canada, Egale has lost any sense of direction and purpose. Since Egale has decided to align its politics with wealthy benefactors like Watt and Belinda Stronach, perhaps it is time for progressive queers, and Egale's progressive funders in the labour movement, to think about whether Egale deserves their money and support.

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