Thursday, December 7, 2006
The Canadian House of Commons has voted 175 to 123 to defeat a motion by the Conservative minority government to re-open the same-sex marriage debate. If the motion had passed the government would have proposed a bill to restore the traditional definition of marriage as being exclusively a union between a man and a woman. The Conservative and Liberal parties did not whip the vote allowing their MPs a free vote.
The motion voted on read as follows: "That this House call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 47, made holding the vote a key promise in the 2006 federal election campaign.
About a dozen Conservative MPs, including several cabinet ministers voted against the motion in the free vote while about a dozen Liberal opposition MPs voted for the motion. No MPs for the opposition Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party voted in favour the motion although two members of the BQ did not vote because they were paired and a third was absent from the vote.
"We made a promise to have a free vote on this issue; we kept that promise, and obviously the vote was decisive and obviously we'll accept the democratic result of the people's representatives," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday at a news conference in Ottawa following the vote. "I don't see reopening this question in the future."
The Liberals said that even if a new law banning same-sex marriage was passed it would be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. Constitutional lawyers say that the Tories would have to change the law by invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which Harper opposes doing.
"It was the wrong move to question the rights of the people and to try to override the Charter of rights...He must not be very proud of that," said Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion.
High profile Tory cabinet ministers Peter MacKay, David Emerson, John Baird, Jim Prentice, Lawrence Cannon, and Josée Verne voted against the motion. House Speaker Peter Milliken, who is a Liberal, did not vote as the Speaker only votes to break a tie.
Harper declared the matter closed, following the vote, ruling out the possibility of revisiting the issue. "I don't see reopening this question in the future," the prime minister told reporters when asked if his government would reintroduce the motion after the next election should the Conservatives win a majority government.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005 by the former Liberal government lead by Paul Martin after a series of court rulings legalized same-sex marriage across most of the country. The 2005 legislation made Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage. Over 12,000 gay couples have married in Canada since Bill C-38 passed.
Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Canada are currently the only countries that allow gay marriage.
== How MPs voted ==
Abbott, Ablonczy, Albrecht, Allen, Allison, Ambrose, Anders, Anderson, Batters, Benoit, Bernier, Bezan, Blackburn, Blaney, Bonin, Boucher, Breitkreuz, Brown (Barrie), Brown (Leeds-Grenville), Bruinooge, Byrne, Calkins, Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country), Carrie, Casson, Clement, Cullen (Etobicoke North), Cummins, Davidson, Day, Del Mastro, Devolin, Doyle, Dykstra, Epp, Fast, Finley, Fitzpatrick, Flaherty, Fletcher, Gallant, Goldring, Goodyear, Gourde, Grewal, Guergis, Hanger, Harper, Harris, Harvey, Hawn, Hearn, Hiebert, Hill, Hinton, Jaffer, Jean, Kamp (Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission), Karygiannis, Kenney (Calgary Southeast), Khan, Komarnicki, Kramp (Prince Edward-Hastings), Lake, Lauzon, Lee, Lemieux, Lukiwski, Lunn, Lunney, MacKenzie, Malhi, Mark, Mayes, McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), McTeague, Menzies, Merrifield, Miller, Mills, Moore (Fundy Royal), Nicholson, Norlock, Obhrai, O'Connor, Oda, Pallister, Petit, Poilievre, Preston, Rajotte, Reid, Ritz, Scarpaleggia, Scheer, Schellenberger, Shipley, Skelton, Smith, Solberg, Sorenson, Stanton, Steckle, Storseth, Strahl, Sweet, Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest), Thompson (Wild Rose), Tilson, Toews, Tonks, Trost, Tweed, Van Kesteren, Van Loan, Vellacott, Wallace, Wappel, Warawa, Warkentin, Watson, Williams, Yelich.
Alghabra, Andre, Angus, Asselin, Atamanenko, Bachand, Bagnell, Bains, Baird, Barbot, Beaumier, Belanger, Bell (North Vancouver), Bell (Vancouver Island North), Bellavance, Bennett, Bevilacqua, Bevington, Bigras, Black, Blaikie, Blais, Bonsant, Boshcoff, Bouchard, Bourgeois, Brison, Brown (Oakville), Brunelle, Cannon (Pontiac), Carrier, Casey, Chamberlain, Chan, Charlton, Chong, Chow, Christopherson, Coderre, Comartin, Comuzzi, Cotler, Crete, Crowder, Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley), Cuzner, D'Amours, Davies, DeBellefeuille, Demers, Deschamps, Dewar, Dhaliwal, Dhalla, Dion, Dosanjh, Dryden, Duceppe, Easter, Emerson, Eyking, Faille, Freeman, Fry, Gagnon, Gaudet, Gauthier, Godfrey, Godin, Goodale, Graham, Guarnieri, Guay, Guimond, Holland, Hubbard, Ignatieff, Jennings, Julian, Kadis, Karetak-Lindell, Keddy (South Shore-St. Margaret's), Keeper, Kotto, Laforest, Laframboise, Lalonde, Lapierre, Lavallee, Layton, LeBlanc, Lemay, Lessard, Levesque, Lussier, MacAulay, MacKay (Central Nova), Malo, Maloney, Manning, Marleau, Marston, Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), Martin (LaSalle-Emard), Martin (Sault Ste. Marie), Martin (Winnipeg Centre), Masse, Mathyssen, Matthews, McCallum, McDonough, McGuinty, McGuire, Menard (Hochelaga), Menard (Marc-Aurele-Fortin), Merasty, Minna, Moore (Port Moody-WestwooduPort Coquitlam), Mourani, Murphy (Charlottetown), Murphy (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe), Nadeau, Nash, Neville, Ouellet, Owen, Pacetti, Paquette, Paradis, Patry, Pearson, Perron, Peterson, Picard, Plamondon, Prentice, Priddy, Proulx, Ratansi, Redman, Regan, Richardson, Robillard, Rodriguez, Rota, Roy, Russell, Savage, Savoie, Scott, Sgro, Siksay, Silva, Simard, Simms, St. Amand, St. Denis, St-Cyr, St-Hilaire, Stoffer, Stronach, Szabo, Telegdi, Temelkovski, Thibault (West Nova), Turner, Valley, Verner, Vincent, Volpe, Wasylycia-Leis, Wilfert, Wilson, Wrzesnewskyj, Zed.
== Related news ==
"Canada to revisit same-sex marriage issue next week" — Wikinews, November 29, 2006
"Canada to have free vote on reopening gay marriage debate" — Wikinews, November 22, 2006
== Sources ==
"175-123 against reopening same-sex debate" — Toronto Star, December 7, 2006
Tenille Bonoguore. "House votes not to reopen same-sex marriage issue" — Globe and Mail, December 7, 2006
"MPs defeat bid to reopen same-sex marriage debate" — CBC News, December 7, 2006
Greg Quinn. "Canada Lawmakers Reject Motion to Reopen Gay Marriage (Update1)" — Bloomberg L.P., December 7, 2006
Gloria Galloway. "Same-sex marriage file closed for good, PM says" — Globe and Mail, December 8, 2006
"Canada upholds gay marriage law" — BBC News Online, December 8, 2006
"Canada won't reopen same-sex marriage debate" — CNN, December 8, 2006
Jennifer Ditchburn, Canadian Press. "Harper declares same-sex issue closed after Commons defeats motion" — CBC News, December 8, 2006