Why were these concessions on C-38
so hard to make, anyway? Why did it take Pat O'Brien leaving caucus to provoke serious negotiation?
The prime minister and MPs opposed to the same-sex marriage bill have reached a deal, possibly averting further internal dissent.
Prime Minister Paul Martin held a private meeting with more than 30 MPs was held last night, following a decision by Liberal MP Pat O'Brien to leave the party and sit as an Independent over the legislation.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife told Canada AM this morning that Martin and the MPs came to an agreement on four amendments with regard to Bill C-38.
* Stronger guarantees that Charter rights will not override religious freedoms
* Justices of the Peace who do not want to perform civil marriages of same-sex couples will not have to do so
* Churches are not required to rent out their halls for same-sex weddings
* Religious educational institutions will still be allowed to preach that homosexuality is against God's law, without being subject to hate crime laws
These are all eminently reasonable - and I say this, again, from a position of supporting SSM. My biggest problem with the original text was the flimsy nature of the protections for individual conscience; it seemed to be yet another Trudeaupian manifesto for Goodthink, with weak and insincere assurances given to dissenters that they wouldn't be treated as social pariahs or criminals. (The eagerness of many
in correspondence I've read to openly seek means of "punishing" the religious for failing to wholeheartedly embrace it Right Now made me even more uncomfortable, in that regard.) Hopefully these amendments will actually have some teeth in the final text; I could support the bill without (as many) reservations, if that were the case.
UPDATE: Of course, other sources suggest, quite believably, that no deal
is in the offing. (Or maybe Fife just read too much into the word "agreement.") Perhaps reasonable concessions are
too much to hope for, out of this government, no matter what the issue.