By Jonathon Van Maren
Scott Gilmore, an occasional writer for Maclean’s, is so obviously not a conservative that his byline states that he “is a member of the Conservative party, and is married to a Liberal cabinet member.” This must be stated explicitly, because there is literally no other way to tell that Gilmore possesses any conservative ideology whatsoever, and he spends nearly all his time liberally trashing the Conservative Party, bemoaning how backwards they all are, or discussing his intense feelings of embarrassment over their beliefs and policies. At one point, he even threatened to take his embarrassment on the road and meet with other “like-minded Conservatives,” even though those are known as “Liberals” to pretty much everyone else. For the record, Gilmore voted Liberal in the last election.
In other words, Gilmore is Conservative in much the same way I would be Liberal if I purchased a Liberal membership, and then wrote columns bemoaning the state of “my party” under the byline: “Jonathon Van Maren is the Scott Gilmore of the Liberal Party of Canada.” It’s a gimmick, sure, but one everybody is in on. Thus, Gilmore’s latest screed in Maclean’s does precisely what every Gilmore column does: It loudly advocates that the Conservative Party of Canada toss out those that Gilmore doesn’t agree with, and darkly warns that they will get left behind by the electorate if they do not leave behind those parts of the electorate that Gilmore thinks is backwards, which happens to be a pretty large portion of the Conservative base, of which Gilmore is incidentally not a part.
Gilmore’s latest reason to be embarrassed of the party he abandoned for Justin Trudeau in the last election is that not enough Conservatives show up to Pride Parades. Sure, Patrick Brown shows up, but he’s apparently of so little consequence as a “Conservative” that his prancing at Pride doesn’t even warrant an honorable mention in a Gilmore column. Sure, many of the leadership candidates as well as the interim party leader showed up at Toronto Pride last year. But that’s not enough. Gilmore wants all of them to show up, and wants to know why those who don’t show up are bothering to pander to bigots who still believe what every nation on the planet believed prior to the year 2000.
Gilmore is one of those “conservatives” who doesn’t believe Pierre Trudeau’s famous statement that “the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nations.” He believes that politicians should be in the stands or part of the parade, applauding the various sexual lifestyles being promoted at such events, and that any moral belief causing hesitation must be abandoned post-haste. Social conservatives are going to vote for Scheer anyway, he explains, and so it is time for Scheer to pull a Patrick Brown and shank them in the back.
There’s a few problems with this, of course. Social conservatives aren’t a guaranteed vote, for one—and it must be remembered that Gilmore is not the only one capable of deciding that perhaps a different party might be more suitable if the current Conservative Party decides to abandon its base to duke it out with Trudeau for his. The only difference is that social conservatives and their allies would be creating a party in order to have a political home, while Gilmore would be creating a party in order to ensure Liberal longevity. After all, he wouldn’t want his wife to be out of a job—and he did vote for Justin Trudeau last time around.
As I pointed out in an column earlier this summer, there are also plenty of other good reasons not to attend Pride Parades, such as the fact that they feature naked adults and general crudeness and indecency, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people—myself included—find it genuinely repulsive that many progressives—Gilmore too, probably—think it’s acceptable for children to be exposed to adult genitalia at a so-called “family event.” By Gilmore’s standards, apparently, you either attend a parade full of drag queens, naked people, dudes in bondage gear and being walked around on leashes, and floats featuring attendees cheerily simulating sex acts, or you are not a conservative anymore. Read that sentence over, and try not to laugh. Gilmore’s sanctimonious diatribe is, when you read it carefully, a bit of a joke. As my friend JJ McCullough put it in a 2013 column on why he doesn’t attend Pride, there are plenty of great reasons that even many gay Canadians reject Pride Parades:
Flipping through online albums of Toronto Pride 2013, one finds ample documentation of S&M bondage couples, barely-there thongs, buttless chaps, and all manner of grinding, thrusting, jiggling, and twerking. It’s perfectly acceptable to find such things gross or distasteful, and an exploitive cheapening of both sex and the body.
It is no great character flaw to value modesty or dignity, nor is it bigoted to esteem forbearance and control. Libertine attitudes towards sex, nudity, fetishism, and exhibitionism are issues entirely disconnected from the civil rights matter of whether peoples of divergent sexual orientations are deserving of the same rights and protections of those in the majority.
Gilmore, of course, does need things to write about, and as a “self-loathing Conservative” who votes Liberal, it’s easy to see why he would choose this topic. A nuanced discussion about Pride Parades, respectful disagreement within political parties, and whether or not those who hold to beliefs held dear for the duration of Western Civilization are now bigots to be tarred and feathered can hardly be expected from someone who specializes in virtue-signalling and fervent declarations of loyalty to the LGBTTQQIAAP community (which makes up less than 5% of the population, by the way.)
And if Gilmore is so obsessed with issues that a majority of Canadians agree on, perhaps he would be interested to know that over 90% of Canadians oppose gender selection abortion, over 60% of Canadians would support restrictions on abortion at some point in pregnancy, and 58% of Canadians oppose gender-neutral birth certificates, for example. If we’re going to go poll-picking, there’s plenty of issues for social conservatives to trumpet, too. Gilmore wants Scheer to abandon up to 40% of the Conservative base—but fails to provide a single coherent reason for why this is a smart thing to do. At the end of the day, Gilmore simply finds the idea that he is in the same party as those bigots distasteful. Lucky for him, he isn’t.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.