Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 12, 2006
Fall date set for same-sex vote
Debate may be re-opened on same-sex marriage
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Parliament will vote this fall on whether to reopen the same-sex "marriage" debate.
On June 2, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the vote will take place after the summer break during Parliament's fall session.
"We committed to that in our platform and the vote will be in the fall," Harper told journalists following a speech in Montreal. "I haven't set the date."
According to newspaper reports, his director of communications said the vote will be on whether to reopen the debate and not on the existing legislation.
Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes sees this vote as the last opportunity for defenders of marriage to reverse Bill C-38, otherwise the issue will lose its "shelf life."
"The reality is we can only keep people's feet to the fire for a certain period of time," he said in a phone interview. Hughes thinks that by the end of 2006, the issue will be over.
In 2007, he expects a new federal election and "a whole different ball game."
Vote Marriage Canada executive director Pat O'Brien, a former Liberal MP who left the party because of the way it handled the same-sex marriage issue, said he believes there is still a high level of concern.
"Now that the date has been set, it will help focus that concern," he said in an interview by phone from London, Ont.
Hughes said members of his organization will work hard to lobby their MPs over the summer.
Both Hughes and O'Brien stressed that visits, personal letters and phone calls are far superior to emails or mass mailings. They both said that every one of the 308 MPs need to have "a significant number of contacts," including those who voted for same-sex marriage.
We don't want any of them coming back and saying this was not an issue in their ridings, O'Brien said.
EGALE and other groups have advocated accepting that the issue is settled or having an early vote, which O'Brien said they would probably win if they held it now.
Rumours have circulated that one of the opposition parties might use one of their supply days to pre-empt the government's marriage vote.
"I don't know what dirty tricks they might pull," O'Brien said. "Every dirty trick in the book was used to ram Bill C-38 through."
Support for traditional marriage appears to be eroding as several MPs who originally voted against the bill have told journalists they do not want to see the debate reopened.
Both Trade Minister David Emerson, a former Liberal cabinet minister, and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay told The Canadian Press they hadn't heard much about the issue in their ridings.
Edmonton Conservative MP James Rajotte told CP many of his constituents consider it a "done debate." He said he was undecided about how to vote, considering how difficult it would be to reverse Bill C-38.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is watching the marriage issue carefully, said spokesman Sylvain Salvas, but a specific strategy has not been announced.
Catholic bishops were at the forefront of the battle to save traditional marriage last year. Salvas said he expects that leadership role will continue.