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.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.