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Day Will Win Race and Alliance Will Split At the Seams
Gay municipal politician comments on leadership vote

by Gilles Marchildon

ON the weekend that Canadian Alliance members prepare to choose their new leader, another openly gay municipal politician -- this time from voter-rich Ontario -- has waded into the fray, predicting that Stockwell Day will win the leadership and that the party will split at the seams from its internal contradictions.

Alex Munter, Councillor for Kanata on the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Council, is the second openly gay municipal politician to comment on the Canadian Alliance leadership race, though he's not as alarmed by the rise of the new party and its staunchly traditional and conservative policies as Winnipeg's Mayor Glen Murray.

Murray blasted the disguised social conservatism of the Canadian Alliance and called leadership candidates a "bag of bigots" during a keynote speech he delivered May 4 in Toronto at the annual meeting of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association of Canada (NLGJA).

"It's clear that the overwhelming majority of Alliance members have views that are well outside the tolerant mainstream of Canadian society," Ottawa's Munter told  "They've been able to conceal or sublimate those very serious contradictions but at some point," says Munter, "either they conceal those views in order to get elected or they split apart at the seams trying to conceal them."

Munter's constituency is Kanata, a fairly mainstream western suburb of Ottawa.  From his vantage point, he feels that "there is interest in the Alliance on the part of people who probably don't have that much in common with them and that's why it'll be very interesting to see whether or not the glitz of good marketing manages to conceal the product."

"I think Day's going to win.  It's pretty clear," believes the Kanata Councillor.  "It's a clear victory within that political family for the most conservative element and a repudiation of a more moderate view within the party."

Munter, who doesn't think there will be a federal election this Fall, says it will be more difficult for the Alliance under Day's leadership to balance the expectations of the party's members with those of the voters.

Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, during his remarks at the NLGJA meeting in early May, was more alarmed by the growing interest in the Alliance and what he perceives to be the easy ride media was giving leadership candidates.  The Western based municipal politician expressed great concern that the Alliance's brand of conservatism could threaten the human rights of various minority groups and anyone who did not conform to the party's narrow social views.

Alberta's Stockwell Day shocked many in the political establishment, and certainly former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, with a first place finish during the Alliance's first leadership ballot.  This weekend will likely determine which of the two men will lead the newly created federal opposition party.

Day has been criticized for his personal views which, according to some sources, do not make room for the acceptance of homosexuality.  The Alliance leadership candidate has attempted to avoid debate by suggesting that one can hold personal views without them influencing public policy.  His suggestion, however, has been met with critical commentary even by more conservative media voices such as the National Post.