Paul Tuns
The Interim

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has announced that he will introduce the Liberal government bill to change the definition of marriage to one that would include same-sex couples in early February and that he hopes it will pass before the House rises in June.

Cotler had indicated in early December that he wanted the House of Commons to pass the government’s proposed legislation quickly, perhaps even within a month of it being introduced. He said that there has already been much debate and that the courts have already made same-sex “marriage” a legal reality in most of Canada. Over the past 18 months, activist judges in seven provinces and one territory have already foisted same-sex “marriage” on their jurisdictions. Cotler said that whether Parliament passed the legislation, one way or another, Canada would have this new definition of marriage. “If the bill does not pass, the likelihood is that the constitutional development will continue in the other provinces and we will likely see this issue being arrived at one by one in the courts,” the justice minister said.

One Liberal MP told The Interim that Prime Minister Paul Martin always expected the “inevitability” of redefining marriage in law and the supposed requirement to abide by the Charter as directed by the courts. The MP predicted that perhaps a dozen or more Liberal members of Parliament, who had previously supported marriage as the union of one man and one woman, could end up switching sides and support the government’s attack on marriage.

Another MP told The Interim Cotler can be confident thatthe courts will bring about the government’s desired change to the definition of marriage as the “union of two people,” because for years, prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin had litmus tests and would only appoint socially liberal individuals to the bench. He pointed to the elevation to the Supreme Court last August of two Ontario judges: Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron – well-known pro-homosexualist jurists – while the federal government’s reference questions on same-sex “marriage” were before the court.

Meanwhile, pro-family groups are happy to have the extra time to lobby MPs and get their supporters behind grassroots efforts to fight redefinition. That said, Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes told The Interim they will be careful not to be fooled by the government, which has been known to fiddle with timetables as a political tactic. Still, Hughes said the fact that the government has extended its own deadline to get the bill passed should be construed as a sign it is far from certain it has enough votes.

As The Interim notes in an editorial this month, the June deadline is significant, because that is when taxpayer funding for political parties kicks in – 12 months after the previous election. The Liberal government might be preparing for a scenario in which the bill is defeated and Paul Martin is forced to face the voters again. If the bill is defeated prior to June and a federal election is held earlier, the parties would not have access to federal funding.