Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Canadian Express Rolls

As the Senate in Ottawa gets to bill C-38 formally legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, they heard from Justice Minister Irwin Cotler yesterday. He testified to the Senate committee considering the bill that it was moot.

If they reject the bill (extremely unlikely), it remains the law of the land for two reasons:
  1. the nation's highest court has declared discrimination by gender in marriage unconstitutional
  2. a large majority of provinces and territories have already legalized such marriages
The option would be for the legislature to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by using the nonwithstanding clause. Of course, Canadians are loath to go that route, with its implications for their other cherished rights. It would be similar to us putting in exceptions to our Bill of Rights for a narrow political purpose. The Canadian government has never used the nonwithstanding clause.

A full report of yesterday's action is in the Globe and Mail (free registration required) or the wires.

The Conservative Senators are still petulant about losing the C-38 vote in Commons. Yesterday:

"You seem to worship at the altar of the Charter. I do not," Tory Senator Anne Cools said.

The former Liberal described herself as an admirer of the Charter's founding figure, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau. But she added: "The Charter has gone places that Pierre Trudeau never would have intended."

The party's lack of grace in accepting defeat that they saw coming over six months ago is quaint and amusing. However, they still are making noises about somehow generating a majority or coalition and overturning the pending law.

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