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January 13, 2012 / amanda stratton

Thinking Caps Should Have Chin Straps So They Don’t Fall Off So Much

Yesterday, it came to the attention of we, the Canadian public, that there was a major problem with same-sex marriages of foreigners performed in this great nation of ours. The problem was this: they weren’t legal.

They weren’t legal because Canadian law states that non-residents can only be married here if they could also be legally married in the country or countries of their residence. So if you live in a country where marriage between people of different religions is illegal, for example, then don’t come here—we can’t marry you , either. Sorry.

Except that got overlooked when the run on Canadian same-sex marriages hit. That, in itself, is enough to be angry about. Because, let’s be honest, someone should have known that was in the law books. Someone should have thought of it during the last seven years. Someone. It was a horrendous mistake. But it was that—a mistake.

Had I been one of the people affected, I’d have been pretty angry, likely, and would be expecting a timely response to the matter. Luckily for hypothetically-affected me, one was provided. Justice Canada is going to correct the mistake. The law will be altered so that marriages that wouldn’t be recognized as legal outside of Canada, will still be legal in Canada. For whatever that’s worth, and as skeptical as I am about this thing called matrimony, I do understand that maybe to some people, it’s worth a lot.

This, to me, as I review the events of the past 24 hours and write them here, then read them back checking for but undoubtedly missing grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, all seems pretty reasonable. These things happen, and though some people should probably spend the afternoon in the corner with the dunce cap on, no malice was ever intended.

The reason I wanted to write about it is that social media and news media alike erupted with Harper-bashing yesterday. This happens a lot, and a good deal of the time, though the facts may be skewed, or the truths incomplete, the sentiment seems mostly on-target.

That wasn’t the case this time. I honestly didn’t even know how anybody could mentally twist this situation far enough to make it seem like this was serving the Conservative/Harper agenda, or that it had been done intentionally. I still don’t know how anyone who did any research and took their critical thinking vitamins yesterday morning would have come to that conclusion.

But the media was full of hate-baiters yesterday. And when they dangle Harper on that line, too many people bite too readily. And then the media drag them along at a hundred knots because all those newspaper purchases and ad-clicks are chum for the sharks that keep them in fancy life vests.

I admit that “Don’t trust everything you read!” and “Do the research!” and “Media Bad! Thinking Good!” are favourite taglines of mine, and maybe I say those things a lot. It’s just hard to see people being led down the path of most profitability when there are more important things they should be worrying about, or more effective things they could be doing to get involved.

Let us never forget the possibility that I could always be wrong. People make mistakes. Perhaps someday I will look back at this post and think, “Well, I’ll be farked. The conspiracy theorists were right!” I won’t apologize–not just because nobody reads this blog anyway, but also because I know I came to the conclusion that makes the most sense given the research I did and the information I have available to me. And I know I put the time in to find it all.

I just want to encourage people to think and engage in well-informed discourse rather than name-calling and fear-mongering. If you disagree with me about issues, the cool thing about democracy is supposed to be that there’s a place for all of our beliefs and we can talk about it like the civilized people we are. But let’s just keep our heads cool so we can hang onto that.

Because I’m all about thinking critically about how and why things end up in the media: I can’t think of a single reason any member of the government would intentionally draw attention to this gaffe. My guess would be that the lawyer working for the two women who want to get divorced is the one who took it the news outlets. So if you’re wondering whose agenda was best served in all this, that’d be where you should probably look.


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