Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Eight

Yesterday and today are the last days for discussion of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Today there will be a vote to complete second reading and send the bill to committee. The vote is expected to pass: while it's a free vote, Conservatives and about 20 to 30 Liberals will vote against it, the Bloc will be overwhelmingly in favor, the NDP will vote in favor, and the Liberal cabinet along with the majority of backbenchers will support it. (Not everyone who votes has spoken out on this bill.)

I'm listing MP's statements from Tuesday, and I'm omitting the comments of MPs who have already spoken on the topic unless they've changed their minds. I'm also linking to their parliamentary web page so that people can e-mail their sentiments directly to them. (You can find previous postings on this topic here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)


Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.): Con. He thinks it's unfair that some MPs are being called homophobic just because they defend the traditional definition of marriage. He quotes two gay people who were witnesses in committee in 2003, both of whom opposed changing the definition of marriage. 92% of his constituents feel the same way, but 66% feel they can live with civil unions.

Mr. Ted Menzies (Macleod, CPC): Con. He's heard from his constituents and they don't like the bill in its present form. He considers the question of rights to be already settled, but that Parliament needs to recognize that most Canadians don't want the traditional definition to be changed.

Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Con. He quotes from former Canadian Bar Association president Eugene Meehan, who analyzed the gay marriage question and found that while Parliament had the right to define marriage, it isn't required to do so. He also casts doubt on the potency of the bill's religious protection clause.

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC): Con. He's a strong believer in the traditional definition of marriage, but he makes his arguments with the same Conservative talking points that David Tilson and Jeremy Harrison used yesterday.

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, CPC): Con. He's against changing the definition of marriage, which is what this bill is about. He's critical of the NDP and the Liberals for not allowing all of their members to have a free vote. He also has concerns about the religious protections clause of the bill.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC): Con. The former leader of the Canadian Alliance looks at the legal implications of the bill, and finds them wanting. Quoting from legal opinions of the law firm Lang Michener, he argues that the Supreme Court would not rule defining traditional marriage to be unconstitutional, and that the religious protections clause of the bill has no force.

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, CPC): Con. He's already presented nine petitions to the House denouncing this bill, and he has eight more to submit. He names one Liberal cabinet minister (Joe Comuzzi, the minister of state for the FedNor agency) who is opposed to the bill but must vote for it or else lose his ministry, and one New Democrat (Bev Desjarlais, the Manitoba MP for Churchill) who had made noises opposing the bill but was ordered to support it.

Ms. Helena Guergis (Simcoe—Grey, CPC): Con. The Raging Kraut's favorite MP thinks recognizing civil unions, rather than redefining marriage, is a reasonable compromise. She doesn't feel Canada has to be more radical than Britain, France or Vermont.

Mr. Jim Gouk (British Columbia Southern Interior, CPC): Con. He quotes from one of his constituents, who says that if you're going to come up with a new type of legal union, then you should come up with a new term to describe it. He ironically thanks the Liberal government for making this an issue that will enable him to keep his seat in the next election.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC): Con. He notes the flip-flopping of several cabinet ministers, comparing their positions to their votes in 1999 and 2003, and chides the Minister of Foreign Affairs for showing an intolerant attitude towards the churches who spoke out on this bill.


The score today: all 9 Con.
The tally so far: Con 75, Pro 31.

The second reading vote on C-38 takes place at 5:30 pm this afternoon.