I always thought the Liberals straight man’s burden talking point disingenuous. The Liberal argument was that you cannot cherry pick rights and whether SSM was a cherry is really beside the point. I was told this position focus grouped far better than anything else.
However given what happened with the promise to ban using the notwithstanding cause, I doubt it moved anyone. Indeed, the reason SSM worked for the Liberals in places such as Vancouver had very little to do with what the Liberals were saying and much more to with what the Conservatives were saying, Reform party stereotypes, and ideological similarities between the Bush administration and Conservatives. In terms of likely voters the numbers may have been with the Conservatives, but the debate hurt the Conservatives more than issue helped. The arguments the Conservatives offered up were pathetic and worse some were down right silly. Paul Forseth’s flyer warning not only of ‘moral decay’ but economic decay as well was laughed at by the media. The same fate greeted Rob Anders ‘homosexual sex marriage’ flyer. If that was not enough, the SSM debate enabled Conservative opponents to draw a straight line from Harper to Rove and Bush.
By switching the debate from one about ‘homosexual sex marriage’, volumes of homophobic comments by Reform MPs, pictures of Stephen Harper dressed up to look like one of the Village People and prideful talk about Americans fleeing “Jesus Land” to something that was utterly abstract, the Liberals allowed the Conservatives to at once save themselves from themselves and to distance themselves from Bush.