On a recent trip to New York City, I saw from the window of my seat on the train to Long Island a poster for the controversial production of Fiddler on the Roof, starring Spanish-Italian sensation Alfred Molina; this most recent incarnation of the old favourite has drawn a lot of fire from critics for being “not Jewish enough.”

But though the new show has been derided by some for being a little light on the Yiddish and heavy on the foreskin, the Romantic Molina is practically Fivush Finkel when compared to the Tevye audition I saw when I arrived home to the federal leaders’ debate. That right wing meshugeneh Stephen Harper, bereft of beard or charm, kept putting one hand on his belly, turning the other skywards, and belting out that old Fiddler standard: “Traditiooooon! Tradition! Tra-di-tion!”

Harper has made a point of hiding his party’s obscurant and toxic opposition to equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians behind the benign-sounding veil of support for “the traditional definition of marriage,” which he “prefers.” Just like the late Alabama governor George Wallace might not necessarily have opposed equal rights for blacks, he just “preferred” a “traditional definition” of buses and water fountains. In fact, some have speculated that the only thing holding Harper back from declaring publicly his fondness for Jim Crow is that it sounds so gay.

Ah, the traditional definition of marriage: A shit-kickin’ male breadwinner with giant balls and an obedient wife whose skin — except for the bruises — is the same colour as her husband’s. Or, maybe he means marriage as the cornerstone of Catholic life, in service to God and without the possibility of divorce? Or, maybe he means those Teutonic creeps who marry 30 teenagers in the hopes of coming closer to the Lord?

Sweet Jesus, there are so many “traditional” definitions of marriage, it must be nearly impossible for the federal government to complete its duty of setting the moral and religious imperatives of the nation! Sometimes it almost seems as though we should consider having a secular government, whose role would be to ensure the legal rights of all people and minority groups, regardless of the medieval religious spasms of those expressing “majoritarian” concerns. I’m just glad we weren’t bogged down by this debate when we had to go into Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. Somebody had to teach those Goddamned fanatics about a proper division of Church and state. Al-Qaeda is such a bunch of fags.

Of course, Harper’s Cowboy Alliance for Conservative Reform party platform isn’t completely based on “tradition.” Linguists, anthropologists and archaeologists are still poring over the Dead Sea Scrolls to see if the party’s policy of supporting the American weaponization of space through the ballistic missile “defence” program is in line with established Judeo-Christian norms. And prominent party figures like Stockwell Day refuse to be bound by “traditional” concepts of “reality” which claim that the presence of humans and dinosaurs were buffered by millions of years.

Day, of course, has publicly declared his belief that we and thunder lizards co-existed — a declaration that, despite its obvious implications as to the intellectual fortitude of Mr. Day, still has Canadians considering (with straight faces) voting for a party that would likely place him in the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, making Fred Flintstone our face to the world.

Leaks from within the party have cast light on Day’s plans for resolving the conflict in Israel and the occupied territories, should he win the coveted ministerial post: Taking to the region astride an enormous stegosaurus, Stockwell will shoo the Palestinians from the Holy Land personally, then, if he has time, will pour water on Laura Dern’s hands in an effort to explain chaos theory (not realizing that, in effect, his own political career is a better illustration than Jeff Goldblum’s Jurassic Park soliloquy).

Whether the next cabinet is made up of Martin and his cronies or Harper and his modern stone-age family, the fight for gay rights is far from over. Harper will continue to posture as a non-traditional populist, promising (his version of) immigrant leaders that he will fight for “their” version of marriage, even as he increases deportations, approves police crackdowns and harassment of their communities, and bombs the countries that they come from. He’ll promise blue collar, working-class Canadians (who, in his imagination, are all white and straight) the right to keep faggotty books out of their kids’ schools even as he bolsters corporate Canada’s slashing-and-burning, privatizing and union-busting agenda.

No sir, there’s only one kind of person who can vote for Harper without shooting himself in the foot, only one kind of figure in our society has his interests truly represented by Harper’s Cons, and — oddly enough — the lyrics of Fiddler are once again a perfect indicator of who (alone!) ought to vote Conservative: “If I were a rich man/ biddy biddy biddy biddy biddy biddy biddy bum/ If I were a biddy biddy bum/ If I were a wealthy man . . .”