Friday, June 17, 2005

Not to delay or be misled

I think I called this pretty accurately: OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Paul Martin is indicating that the same-sex-marriage bill will be put off until the fall and says Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is to blame for the delay. Mr. Martin and his senior ministers would not commit yesterday to keeping MPs in their seats until C-38, the same-sex bill, is passed. "It very much is a priority," Mr. Martin said as he emerged from a cabinet meeting. "How long it takes us to get it through is really up to Mr. Harper. . . . Mr. Harper has said the judiciary should not decide these things, it should be Parliament. Well, he has his chance. And let Parliament decide." [...] When asked about his government's previous pledges to pass the bill before the summer recess, Mr. Martin said there are no guarantees in a minority Parliament. This wasn't an overly complex act of political kung-fu. It seems that the PM is perfectly willing to let it die or be dragged out, as long as he can credibly blame it on the Conservatives - and very credibly, at that, given the desperation and motivations it implies. There's no official deal, true: The Conservatives suggested this week that they had a deal with the Liberals to allow the Liberal-NDP budget bill, C-48, to pass in exchange for a pledge that the gay-marriage bill be put off until fall. But Tory House Leader Jay Hill said that negotiations fell apart because he refused a Liberal demand that the same-sex bill advance to the final stage in the House. But why bother with a deal, when the same counterattacks on Tory reasons for one can be made regardless? I am in favour of same-sex marriage. I don't think C-38 has been a particularly good way to go about implementing it, whether in the rush to legislation, or the weak guarantees of freedom of conscience for those who disagree. That said, while I'd rather not see it pass in this form, better it does sooner rather than later; we're now at the point where the CPC can seem to the disinterested middle to be overtly homophobic, trading away substantial opposition to any number of more important issues for the sake of temporary delay on SSM. I know that's not an accurate assessment of most of the party, but it's a believable one, and I think they just cemented that perception by walking into Martin's trap.


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