A leading gay and lesbian media group in Canada has published a 16-page expose of the Conservative party alleging that they “pandered to antigay, faith-based groups to win a minority government in 2006.”

The advert-free supplement, Stephen Harper and the Rising Clout of Canada’s Religious Right, is available online at Xtra.ca and 90,000 copies were inserted into Xtra, Xtra West and Capital Xtra publications.

“Candidates in this federal election are not talking about issues specifically affecting gay and lesbian people,” said Matt Mills, Xtra’s associate publisher and managing editor.

“This Conservative government was elected partly because the Harper campaign promised anti-gay, faith-based groups that it would actively marginalise gay and lesbian Canadians.

“We are running it in the Xtra publications because I believe every Canadian ought to read it before the October 14th vote.

“This could be the most important election for gay and lesbian Canadians in decades.

“We’ve got to vote and we’ve got to avoid a Conservative majority.”

Parliament was dissolved earlier this month by the Governor General at the request of Prime Minister Harper, who is hoping to increase its parliamentary representation at the 40th Canadian federal election.

In July 2005, under the previous Liberal administration, Canada became the fourth country to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married.

During the 2006 election campaign, the Conservatives had pledged to re-open the debate about the issue, despite the fact that eight provinces had decided that excluding gay and lesbians from marriage was a human rights violation.

Having won the election, but without an overall majority, Prime Minister Harper carried out his promise, but his motion in defence of ‘traditional’ marriage was defeated in the House of Commons by 175 to 123.

Harper then assured Canadians that he thinks the matter is closed and he will not bring it before Parliament again, even if his party gain an overall majority.

However, he may face challenges this election about his views on abortion.

Click here to read Stephen Harper and the Rising Clout of Canada’s Religious Right on Xtra.ca.