Alliance loses marriage motion but
vote fractures the Liberals
By Laura Katsirdakis
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."