Same Sex Marriage

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): – Mr. Speaker, today the justice minister is saying that Bill C-38 will not make it through. I would like to ask a question of the government House leader. This debate on equal marriage has been going on now for almost three years. Last June the Prime Minister promised, “Your fundamental rights don’t belong to a political party. They belong to Canada and we’re going to protect them”.

Why is the government selling out on human rights? Where is the commitment to pass Bill C-38?

Hon. Tony Valeri (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the hon. Member begins to play politics with such an important piece of legislation. Our approach on this bill has been consistent right from the beginning. Our commitment is to get the budget bills passed and pass as many other pieces of legislation as possible, like Bill C-38. We have demonstrated our commitment by extending the sitting hours to midnight so that we can have more legislation debated in the House. It is the Conservatives who do not want to allow Bill C-38 to come to this House and who will not allow for the democratic process to proceed.

Ms. Libby Davies: Mr. Speaker, the government House leader cannot hide behind politics. A majority of MPs support equality. A majority of citizens support equality. Eight courts have ruled. The Prime Minister does not have to duck and hide on this one. His responsibility is not to Liberal MPs who want to act like the Conservatives. His responsibility is to human rights.

I ask again, where is the leadership and the commitment to get this bill through? It has been around long enough. Where is the commitment?

Hon. Tony Valeri (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I need not take any lessons from the hon. Member. Our commitment and responsibility are to Canadians. That is why we are in the House. That is why we put forward legislation. That is why we debate legislation.

The real question is why the Leader of the Opposition continues to delay the debate on Bill C-38, and why the Leader of the Opposition continues to put forward procedural motions instead of debating budget bills and debating other issues that are important to Canadians.

Same Sex Marriage

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the historic B.C. Appeal Court decision yesterday on same sex marriage is a victory for equality in Canada. It’s also further evidence that the waffling and denial of equality for gays and lesbians by the government is unconscionable and unacceptable.

Based on the three Appeal Court decisions, will the Minister make three things clear today? No more delays! No more studies! No more government appeals!

Will the government do the right thing and stand on the side of equality and change the law to allow same sex marriage? How long will the Minister take on this issue?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the Member is raising a very important social issue for all Canadians.

We said last summer that we wanted to have parliamentarians involved in the debate. We have asked the Justice Committee to proceed with the consultation process. I was told that consultation is finished now. We expect to have the report soon.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are facing three decisions, one in Quebec, the other one in Ontario and yesterday the decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal, which is a very interesting and important decision.

We will wait for the recommendations from the Committee and after that the government will come forward with a position.