September 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 12  

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Alliance loses marriage motion but vote fractures the Liberals

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

A motion by the Canadian Alliance to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as that between a man and a woman was narrowly defeated by a vote of 137-132 in Parliament this Tuesday.

"This is a historic step forward in the Liberal Party, as well as for the government and the Canadian people," said Mike Murphy, director of communication for the Liberal minister of justice. "[It also] means that [the Alliance's] narrow view of things will continue."

"[It] is about equality and the protection of freedom of religion," Murphy stated. He explained the bill confirms the right of religious groups not to celebrate same-sex marriage if it goes against their faith.

"The Canadian Alliance is not in favour of equality or the protection of freedom of religion," Murphy said of the Alliance's opposition to the proposed redefinition of marriage.

"The Liberals cannot be trusted on issues that they themselves deem fundamental," said Vic Toews, justice critic for the Alliance. "They are a party that shouldn't be in power.

"In 1999 the House of Commons overwhelmingly supported a motion upholding the traditional definition of marriage," Toews said. "[The Alliance] felt that it was hypocritical of the Liberals to run [in the last election] on that platform and then simply change their minds."

Murphy said the Liberals explain this change of mind by saying a lot has changed since the 1999 motion. As well, this change is in response to recent court decisions, Murphy said.

In 1995 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on this issue and decided it was not necessary to change the definition of marriage, Toews said. The Liberal explanation is responding to subsequent rulings by lower courts, he added.

"Nothing has changed since 1995. Recent polling indicates stronger concern against changing the traditional definition of marriage," Toews added.

"The Alliance is trying to cement its position for the next election," said Laura Stephenson, a political science lecturer at Western. "They put up this motion to try and embarrass the Liberals."



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