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Equality Bill Slices and Dices
House blend of party colours, marriage, and conviction puts C-23 on surreal ride
Ed.'s Note (April 6):  Liberal MP Tom Wappel, quoted below, has since reversed his position on the bill. He states he will not be voting in favour of it.

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AFTER finishing up its Committee stage on March 24th Canada's equality bill arrived in the House of Commons yesterday to a fanfare welcome of no less than 172 proposed amendments from Members of Parliament.

Now in its Report stage - back in the House proper - the bill is being subjected to debates on those 172 amendments, with a vote to follow, before moving on to third and final reading, more debate, another vote, and then off to the Senate to be subjected to more intimate relations with the Upper Chamber.

If it's capable of surviving all this scrutiny, conflict, misunderstanding, and third party discussion, well ... it would have to be gay.

True to form as gay issues go with never being able to leave a house undivided, this gay issue among Canada's Parliamentarians has blurred party lines and caused MPs to reverse conventional stances.

New Democrat Svend Robinson was reported by the National Post today as no longer supporting the bill because it's 'about marriage.'  Backbench Liberal Tom Wappel, who has opposed it all along, now supports it because the insertion at Committee stage of the marriage definition makes the bill 'no longer about marriage.'  Bloc Quebecois Member Real Menard stated that the bill was never about marriage, still isn't, and supports it.  Justice Minister Anne McLellan agrees but inserted the Committee stage amendment 'in the interest of certainty,' which apparently hasn't worked.  Garry Breitkreuz of the (new) Canadian Alliance told the press the bill is about the 'death of marriage' except when it's about 'buggery'.  And his party's Eric Lowther is still stuck on two men or women having 'conjugal relations.'

Most of the proposed amendments are from the (then) Reform Party's Eric Lowther and the BQ's Pierrete Venne.  They want the definition of marriage inserted into every federal Act the bill proposes to change, or at least into every section of the bill itself.  Mr. Robinson himself proposed two amendments to try to either remove or modify the definition of marriage inserted at the Committee stage.

The bill is still expected to pass; the only questions are what will be left of it and who exactly will be voting in favour of it.  But using party colours or gay sentiment is apparently no longer a predictor.

Gay issues can't seem to go anywhere without controversy, even within the Community itself at times.  But then again, it's about sex, or at least 'gay' is about sex in the eyes of many, and as the Governor of Vermont, whose state legislature is in the middle of the same process, stated simply:  "Sex sells."

Voting on the amendments is expected later in the week.