The fallout continues this morning on Larry Spencer’s remarks. The Globe’s Alliance-Tory merger hits roadblock on gays gives a good round-up of what’s going on, and at the end of the article suggests that Stephen Harper may take a harder line with Larry Spencer than he did yesterday.
The Globe also published a Compendium of Alliance Gaffes, which didn’t appear in the online edition. This short little montage of intolerance leaves one with the impression that the Alliance is simply incapable of change. The stink that surrounds the Alliance is not going to disappear quickly, even with the merger.
Susan Riley, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, get’s it dead on in Harper’s risky balancing act. She points out that while he tries to keep the "social conservatives" on side by opposing gay marriage, demography will ultimately marginalize any party that adheres to this position. Women, young people, and Quebecers are the groups most in favour of legal gay marriages. Young people are a growing demographic, and in order to be successful a merged conservative party must reach out to women and Quebecers as well.
Harper’s tepid response is probably the thing which has damaged him the most in this episode. His weak condemnation of Larry Spencer has the fiscal conservatives of the new party scrambling to find a more acceptable candidate in the upcoming leadership race. The new party is going to have to do everything it can to erase the reputation for bigotry that the Alliance has accumulated. Harper is simply too weak on these issues to be credible as a leader.