Friday, June 5, 2009

Vic Toews anti-Gay Muster Bluster and Filubuster

There is an old proverb that states: 'Where there is no vision, the people perish', and I believe that a lot of the problems with the Conservative Party today, is the result of a lack of vision. They allow ideology to cloud their judgement, and fight tooth and nail to halt natural progress.

Perhaps one of their hardest fought battles has been over same-sex or equal marriage. They claim it to be a moral issue, but given the militant reactions of the Religious Right, it's something much deeper.

Promise Keepers, one of the faith based groups that prop up the Tories, make it very clear about their views, on this issue and abortion.

Their founder Bill McCarthy, states: "Homosexuals are a group of people that don't reproduce. Yet they want to be compared to groups that do reproduce." This is homophobia based on demography, since it would appear that the white race is being bred out. Of course the fact that we have been killing each other for centuries, is probably the biggest factor, but you'd never get them to admit to that.

Many gay couples are raising children, and not just those they adopt. Through artificial insemination, a lesbian is able to become a mother and surrogates often provide gay male couples with paternal biological offspring.

Also a number of heterosexual couples are opting not to have children at all, so is their marriage less valid?

All members of the old Reform Party who currently sit in the Tory caucus, object to equal marriage, but in 2005, Vic Toews took it to a different level.

You might wonder why this is pertinent today, but after watching some of the attack ads against Michael Ignatieff, based on old lectures and books he has written, I think it's a good time to remind Canadians of the nefarious past of our current Prime Minster and his team.

When Stephen Harper's 1997 speech to a an American neo-conservative group surfaced, in which he regaled against Canadians; his spokesperson claimed that he said those things as a private citizen, and no longer feels that way. Obviously a double standard here, because when Michael Ignatieff wrote and lectured on a variety of subjects now being cherry picked by the Conservatives, he too was a private citizen.

But in not so distant history, and while members of the government, the Reform-Conservatives exploited their position to try to halt this important piece of legislation. It didn't work, but not for lack of trying.


Latest on Conservative Leadership’s OBSTRUCTION OF BILL C-38

The Conservative leadership has done everything in their power to delay passage of the government’s equal marriage bill, Bill C-38. Following their defeat on April 12 on the vote on Stephen Harper’s amendment, they shed any pretense of allowing Parliament to act.

Now at the Legislative Committee, Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews is openly filibustering in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to run out the clock.

Here is a history of the Conservative leadership’s obstruction:

SECOND READING DEBATE- When the second reading debate began on February 16, 2005, Stephen Harper moved an amendment to the Prime Minister’s motion, which called for the House to decline to read the Bill a second time. This procedural delay tactic is known as a “Hoist”.

- Conservative leadership advised the other parties they were content to follow the usual procedure and have the vote on second reading take place on the same day as the vote on Mr. Harper’s amendment. This was borne out by the fact that during debate Conservative MPs spoke to the Bill itself, not the amendment.

- On March 22, after 47 MPs had spoken, the Conservative leadership advised the other parties that the Conservative leadership was insisting on an additional debate after the vote on the amendment. They said that 10 – 12 Conservative MPs would speak in the additional debate.

- Conservative leadership agreed debate was to end on April 4 or 5. On April 4, Conservative MP Steven Fletcher moved a Motion for Concurrence which consumed 3 hours that had been allocated for debate on C-38.

- On April 5, Conservative MP Bob Mills moved another Motion for concurrence which consumed 3 hours that had been allocated for debate on Bill C-38. As a result, the C-38 debate did not end as had been agreed. It finally ended on April 6, after the government allocated more time for it.

- Also on April 5, the Conservative leadership told the other parties the Conservatives planned to have up to 20 MPs speak on the additional debate.- On April 11, the Hill Times reported “Tories poised to filibuster” Bill C-38.

- On April 12, following the vote that defeated Mr. Harper’s amendment, Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews told reporters that the Conservatives would insist on as full a debate as possible before the second reading vote, and would introduce further motions and take additional measures to delay the vote. Earlier in the day, Conservative leadership had made clear to the other parties their intention was to do everything in their power to obstruct and delay Bill C-38. The total number of MPs who spoke during the second debate was 98, including 49 Conservatives.

- Conservative MPs used motions for concurrence over and over again during the second round of debate on C-38. As a result, the second reading vote did not take place until May 4. Once again, the equal marriage bill easily passed this vote.- During the second debate, 45 Conservative MPs opposed to the Bill spoke, including 21 who had already spoken during the first debate. The total number of MPs who spoke during the second debate was 62.


- The Legislative Committee on Bill C-38 met on May 5. Since second reading means approval in principle, the purpose of the Legislative Committee is to hear from technical witnesses on how best to implement equal marriage.

- A Subcommittee was created to decide such things are which witnesses the Committee will hear from. The Subcommittee includes a representative of each party. The Subcommittee agreed to a balanced list of 41 groups and individuals.

- Witness hearings began on May 11, and four hearings were scheduled for the week of May 16.

- On May 16, when the Committee was asked to formally approve this list, Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews objected. He demanded that 15 additional witnesses, all opposed, be added. He began his filibuster, which forced the Committee to cancel witness hearings on May 17 and 18.

- On May 17, Mr. Toews presented his list of additional witnesses, which had grown from 15 to 20. The Committee was willing to add these witnesses provided a timeframe could be established for the Committee’s work. Mr. Toews said he could not respond immediately as he needed direction from his House Leader.

- On May 18, Mr. Toews increased his demand to 22 additional witnesses and refused to establish a timeframe for the Committee’s work. He threatened to hold up the Committee’s work until he got his way. When the Committee did not accept his demands, his filibuster continued in earnest. He stopped it only long enough to hear from 4 groups opposed to equal marriage.

- The Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 30 at 3:30 pm in room 237C of Centre Block. No witnesses are scheduled. It is unclear whether Mr. Toews will continue his filibuster, now that the Conservatives say they are willing to let Parliament get back to work.

All for nothing.

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