Canada puts gay marriage back on the table

Anthony Cuesta | December 01, 2006

Rob Nicholson
TORONTO — Canada‚Äôs Parliament is bringing the divisive issue of same-sex marriage back to the floor of the Commons, a member of the government told Reuters Canada on Wednesday.

The ruling Conservatives promised the vote as part of their campaign in the run-up to the January 23 election, which they won with a minority of seats.

"I hope to have it into the House next week, and I think we can probably do this as early as Wednesday," said Rob Nicholson, the Tory House leader, to the Canadian Press.

He also signaled the time for MPs to speak on the issue could be as short as one day, with a vote to follow immediately.

"People's positions on it are pretty clear and they've had an opportunity to think about it for some time," said Nicholson. "I don't think it has to be a long debate."

According to Reuters Canada, some insiders suspect that the government, which is sliding in opinion polls, wants the vote to fail so the matter can be put to rest once and for all before the next election, which is widely expected to be held early next year.

Pro gay-marriage activists said to Reuters Canada that they are confident that a majority of legislators will vote against reopening the issue.

The legislation, passed under the previous Liberal government, made Canada the fourth country after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain to legalize gay marriage.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised during the last election to hold a free vote that would give MPs a chance to revisit the question of gay and lesbian marriage.

But CP reports that the timing – at the tail end of the fall session of Parliament, with minimal debate – suggests the Tories may be tacitly admitting they don't have enough support among other parties to restore the traditional definition of marriage as a union of man and woman. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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