Youth accused of hijacking meeting
OTTAWA - The legalization of same-sex marriage was adopted yesterday as a
"priority resolution" for debate by the Liberal Party of Canada, after one
hundred or so youth delegates flooded into the justice issues workshop at
the party's policy convention and voted in favour of the measure.
The workshop was debating a resolution supporting the principles of the
government's Bill C-23, which extends to same-sex couples the benefits and
obligations of common-law partners.
The youth delegates used their numbers to force an amendment on same-sex
marriage into the resolution, a move that sparked fears by some present that
the government would be seen to be pushing toward the formal recognition of
Within moments of its passage, Brenda Chamberlain, Liberal MP and chair of
the party's Ontario caucus, publicly berated Anne McLellan, the Justice
Minister, for allowing youth delegates "to hijack" and "ambush" the vote.
"I can't support it. I really can't," a visibly angry Ms. Chamberlain told
Ms. McLellan. "My constituents do not support this.
"We get ambushed every time," she said, referring to the youth delegates'
ability to shuffle large numbers of voters in and out of workshops to
support their preferred resolutions.
"I wish we could do the preamble," she implored Ms. McLellan, referring to
the demand from several backbenchers and Reform MPs to add a preamble to the
bill affirming traditional marriage.
"We're looking at it," replied Ms. McLellan, who has staunchly insisted that
Bill C-23 does not change the definition of marriage.
Later the minister told reporters that a preamble was unlikely because the
law "doesn't affect marriage." But she said, "I'm willing to look at ways of
accommodating [the MPs] concerns."
If the resolution is adopted, Ms. McLellan said the preamble would be taken
under advisement, but "we have no intention of changing the definition of
The amendment states, "Be it further resolved that the Liberal Party of
Canada urge the federal government to extend the right for same-sex couples
to be legally married."
The amended resolution will be voted on by all party delegates this evening.
Ms. Chamberlain predicted the resolution could hamper the passage of Bill
C-23. "I think this is harmful to Bill C-23. It has gone beyond the bill and
is a redefinition of marriage," she said.
Jascha Jabes, a Queen's University student and the Liberal Youth policy
representative who proposed the amendment, made no apologies for his group's
tactics, which prevented other resolutions, such as those about aboriginal
justice and elder abuse, from reaching the voting floor. "It's a matter of
principle," he said. "We are going to push this as far as we can."
A similar resolution was passed through the justice workshop by youth
delegates two years ago but was defeated when it reached the full assembly