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Canadian Benefits Bill In Trouble
 
ONLINE:  SATURDAY MARCH 11, 11:46 AM EST (GMT-5).

From 365gay.com

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AS hearings continue on Canada's same sex partner legislation, there are concerns it may be in trouble, and questions have arisen over who will be allowed to speak before the committee examining the legislation.

The government is committed to passing the legislation, following a successful challenge in the Supreme Court of Ontario laws defining a married couple as being a man and woman.

But, opposition from the Reform Party and from within the government's own ranks indicate it could have a rough ride on third and final reading.

A parliamentary committee is hearing from interested parties.  But, while it heard from the right wing group Real Women, it refused to hear a submission from the Committee for the Status of Women.

"The absurdity of this matter is beyond comprehension", said Joan Grant-Cummings, President of NAC.  "At least 50% of our membership are Lesbians and there are no Lesbian groups appearing before the Committee."

"It gets worse when 'REAL' Women is invited and NAC is not!" Grant-Cummings continued.  "Equality-seeking women deserve a chance to express their opinions and concerns on this important question of human rights, and instead, Canadian women will be grossly misrepresented."

While the legislation passed first and second reading easily a sizable number of M.P.s are demanding the inclusion of a clause defining marriage in traditional heterosexual terms.  The government is opposed to this, but the pressure is mounting.

National gay rights group EGALE is urging all Canadian gays and lesbians to write their member of parliament to demand the legislation be passed in its present form.  You can fax your MP through the Internet, using the link at: http://www.egale.ca/politics/politics.htm or go to the top:

The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien,
Prime Minister of Canada
Ph: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900
pm@pm.gc.ca

The Hon. Anne McLellan,
Minister of Justice
Ph: (613) 992-4621
Fax: (613) 943-0044
McLellan.A@parl.gc.ca

The Bill deals only with federal legislation, not with regulations, such as those which prescribe who may immigrate to Canada under the family class.  The requirement of cohabitation contained in the omnibus legislation is not appropriate in the immigration context where couples are often unable to live together because they are separated by distance.  The Immigration Minister has, however, committed to including same-sex couples within the family class and plans to introduce legislation to that effect later this year.

EGALE is urging people to contact the Minister of Immigration and call upon her to commit to a clear timetable for bringing the law for which she is responsible into conformity with the Charter.

The Hon. Elinor Caplan,
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Ph: (613) 954-1064
Fax: (613) 992-0887
Caplan.E@parl.gc.ca