Fredericton, Canada, Jan 26, 2005 / 22:00 pm
Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said yesterday the government will introduce the same-sex marriage bill as soon as Parliament returns from its winter break Monday. The minister made this announcement during a three-day Liberal retreat in Fredericton, N.B.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has said repeatedly in the last few weeks that he intends to legalize same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional rights.
During the election campaign last spring, Martin said the legislation would be put to a free vote in Parliament. While this still applies for Liberal backbenchers, Martin has required his 38-member cabinet to vote in favor. This, say analysts, will give the bill enough votes to pass.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper says that most Canadians support the Conservative view that maintains the traditional definition of marriage but creates civil unions for same-sex couples.