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Gay Marriage Repeal Becoming Canadian Election Issue


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Gay Marriage Repeal Becoming Canadian Election Issue

by Ben Thompson, 365Gay.com Ottawa Bureau

Posted: November 22, 2005 9:00 pm ET

(Ottawa) By all appearances Canada's federal government will collapse next week and voters will head to polls in a Christmas election.

All three opposition parties are expected to support a non-confidence measure to be introduced later this week. With a minority in the House of Common's Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government will be badly outnumbered.

Already there are growing indications that same-sex marriage once again will be a key issue as Liberals and Conservatives duke it out for power.

Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage in July (story) following court rulings in a number of provinces that declared the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper has vowed to bring in legislation to repeal the marriage act.

Although he has said he would not use a rider in the Canadian Constitution allowing a government to opt out of any single provision most legal experts say that would be the only way to overturn the law.

The procedure has never been used by a federal government.

As election fever mounts Harper has been silent on same-sex marriage as an issue. He has refused to answer reporters' questions, preferring to pepper the Liberals over a financial scandal involving millions of taxpayer dollars going to party supporters in Quebec.

But that hasn't stopped other Tory supporters from picking up on the issue.

A former Liberal MP has started a group that will spend the coming election campaign taking on candidates who support same-sex marriage.

Ontario MP Pat O'Brien - who resigned as a Liberal this year because of the marriage issue - announced on Tuesday the founding of Defend Marriage Canada with a Conservative ally.

He and ex-Tory MP Grant Hill, who is a doctor, say the group will raise money, publish letters, and lobby voters to elect candidates who oppose same-sex marriage.

Officially the organization is not tied to the Conservative Party. Critics call it a Tory front.

The Liberals already are mounting their own pro-gay marriage assault.

In a harbinger of the mudslinging expected to shape the campaign, a senior Liberal cabinet minister attacked Harper as a socially conservative dinosaur opposed to minority rights.

Public Works Minister Scott Brison - the only only openly gay member of the Liberal caucus - warned that Harper would turn Canada's social clock back in time.

Brison accused Harper of being at odds with Canadian values on multiculturalism, bilingualism, publicly funded health care and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the last election, two years ago, Harper's opposition to same-sex marriage and Liberal fueled fears that helped keep Martin in power.

Going into the election the Liberals were trailing the Tories, but hammering Harper on the issue of equality left the Conservatives battered.

Nevertheless, voters ony gave Martin a minority government.

Public opinion polls suggest the result this time will be much the same with the Liberals hanging on with another minority.

©365Gay.com 2005


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