Senators of the 39th Canadian Parliament and same-sex marriage

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The Civil Marriage Act received royal assent on July 20, 2005. During the 2006 federal election campaign, Conservative leader Stephen Harper pledged to re-open the issue of same-sex marriage should his party form government. Following the Conservative victory in the election, Harper promised to bring the matter to the Canadian House of Commons "sooner than later" in the form of a resolution on whether parliament should consider a new law banning same-sex marriage. Should such a resolution pass, a new bill would have to pass both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate in order to become law. (See also Members of the 39th Canadian Parliament and same-sex marriage)

The composition of the Senate has changed little since the debate on the Civil Marriage Act. Eight new Senators have been appointed since July 19, 2005 when the Civil Marriage Act passed third reading in the upper house. These are Senators Larry Campbell, Andrée Champagne, Dennis Dawson, Francis Fox, Yoine Goldstein, Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, Hugh Segal and Rod Zimmer (all are Liberals except for Champagne and Segal who are Conservatives). Four Senators have died or retired since the Bill's passage: Shirley Maheu (Liberal), William Doody (Progressive Conservative), Landon Pearson (Liberal) and James Kelleher (Conservative). Maheu and Pearson voted for the Bill, Kellehrer opposed while Doody was absent.

On December 7, 2006, a motion calling on "the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages" was defeated in the House of Commons by a margin of 175 to 123 and Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared the issue settled pledging not to reopen it even if his party wins a majority government in the next election. Therefore, the issue will not be brought to the Senate in the foreseeable future.

The table below is a hypothetical projection of how Senators might vote on the issue of same-sex marriage based on the votes of those Senators who were present during the 2005 debate on the Civil Marriages Act and statements made since then by those Senators and Senators appointed subsequent to the vote.

Senate

(tally adjusted to remove former Senators and add new Senators)

  Group For Against Abstained Absent Total
     Liberals

44

5

2

13

64

     Conservatives

2

12

1

8

23

     Independents

3

0

0

2

5

     Progressive Conservatives

2

0

0

1

3

     Independent NDP

1

0

0

0

1

     Totals

52

17

3

24

96

  • For the purposes of this table, the Speaker of the Senate, who did not vote, is counted as an absentee since the official Senate tabulation does not list him as an abstainer.

Liberals[edit]

Name 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Province
Willie Adams Absent Absent Nunavut
ActWin.com lists Adams as voting positively on 2 previous gay-related bills. He received an A+ rating, which the site deems as: "extremely pro-gay".
Jack Austin Absent Yes British Columbia
ActWin.com lists Austin as voting positively on 2 previous gay-related bills. He received an A+ rating, which the site deems as: "extremely pro-gay". During the debate on second reading, Austin was the second Senator to speak in favour of the bill.
Lise Bacon Yes Yes Quebec
George Baker Yes Yes Newfoundland and Labrador
Voted against Bill C-33 (1996), however, voted in favour of Bill C-38 on second reading.
Tommy Banks No No Alberta
Voted against Bill C-250 (2003). Real Women of Canada stated on its website he was one of a few senators along with Anne Cools to stall the bill as much as possible so that it wouldn't enter committee.
Michel Biron Yes Yes Quebec
John G. Bryden Yes Yes New Brunswick
ActWin.com lists Bryden as voting positively on 2 previous gay-related bills. He received an A+ rating, which the site deems as: "extremely pro-gay". Therefore, his likely vote is "YES".
Catherine Callbeck Yes Yes Prince Edward Island
Larry Campbell N/A N/A British Columbia
New appointment
Sharon Carstairs Absent Absent Manitoba
ActWin.com lists Carstairs as voting positively on 2 previous gay-related bills. Carstairs is listed as seconder of the bill in the Senate.
July 5, 2005: She defended the Deputy Leader of the Government's time allocation motion to limit debate since the opposition could not reach an agreement how much time would be allotted to C-38 before entering committee.
July 6, 2005: "Let's try the same on the prohibited grounds of race, national or ethnic origin. ... Maybe we could say the following: `Notwithstanding the superiority of the white race as ordained by God and illustrated by his divine wisdom in separating the races into different continents, non-white persons for the purposes of civil law shall be considered equal to white persons." "I often wondered what I would do if one of my daughters had come to me and said: `Mom, I have chosen a partner and the partner I have chosen is of the same gender." "How can I, who have had the glorious pleasure of 39 years of that experience, deny it to any other person?"
Maria Chaput Yes Yes Manitoba
Says she will vote in favour of same-sex marriage
Ione Christensen Yes Yes Yukon
Joan Cook Yes Yes Newfoundland and Labrador
ActWin.com lists Cook as voting positively on 2 previous gay-related bills. She received an A+ rating, which the site deems as: "extremely pro-gay". Likely to vote in favour.
Eymard Corbin Abstained Abstained New Brunswick
Jane Cordy Yes Yes Nova Scotia
Jim Cowan Yes Absent Nova Scotia
Joseph A. Day Yes Absent New Brunswick
Roméo Dallaire Absent Yes Quebec
Indicated his support of SSM in Globe and Mail interview the day after his appointment.
July 5, 2005: Criticized Senator Anne C. Cools' speech. "We cannot use the terms "dictatorship" and "Parliament" in the same sentence. That cannot exist. It is impossible. We are in an institution that reflects the democratic history of a country. The Liberal Party was elected and the Liberal Party has a leader who becomes the Prime Minister. It is up to the Prime Minister to take decisions such as appointing Senators. It is an extension of the democratic process. I do not see the urgent need to call an election when valuable and pertinent work is being done
Dennis Dawson N/A N/A Quebec
New appointment
Pierre de Bané Absent Absent Quebec
Percy Downe Absent Yes Prince Edward Island
Art Eggleton Yes Yes Ontario
Joyce Fairbairn Absent Yes Alberta
D. Ross Fitzpatrick Yes Yes British Columbia
Francis Fox N/A N/A Quebec
New appointment
Joan Fraser Yes Absent Quebec
April 1, 2004: While debating C-250, Fraser made a speech: "I cannot possibly support an amendment that deletes the reference to sexual orientation — that is what this bill is all about. It is about coming to the public, official, formal, solemn defence of an extremely vulnerable minority. We have supported this bill at second reading and in committee. I personally support it strongly. I want it on the record that when — I hope before too long — this chamber, in a second bill, is asked to include sex as one of the grounds in this same portion of the Criminal Code, I will gladly support that."
July 5, 2005: "In my view, six hours of debate is a long debate. The motion now before us proposes six hours of debate. That length of time allows for 24 speakers, plus the five we have already heard, which makes 29. How many bills on second reading are addressed by 29 speakers in this chamber?"
George Furey Absent Yes Newfoundland and Labrador
Aurélien Gill Absent Absent Quebec
Yoine Goldstein N/A N/A Quebec
New appointment
Jerry Grafstein Yes Yes Ontario
Mac Harb Yes Yes Ontario
Harb Supported SSM as an MP, according to marriagevote.ca
Daniel Hays Did not vote Did not vote Alberta
Hays was speaker of the Senate at the time of the 2005 vote. Unlike the House speaker, he votes regardless of whether or not there was a tie, and is free to vote by his conscience rather than by convention. He is Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in the 39th parliament.
Céline Hervieux-Payette Abstained No Quebec
Elizabeth Hubley Yes Yes Prince Edward Island
Mobina Jaffer Absent Yes British Columbia
Serge Joyal Yes Yes Quebec
Wrote letter in support of C-38. Copy on his website.
July 4, 2005: Joyal opened the second reading debate arguing in favour of the bill and is listed as Bill C-38's mover in the Senate. Says that "Bill C-38 is about restoring full human dignity to a minority that has long been the object of persecution, marginalization and outrage. It is an issue of minority rights." Says that the Senate was in fact structured to provide for the protection of minorities.
Colin Kenny Absent Yes Ontario
Michael Kirby Absent Absent Nova Scotia
Jean Lapointe Yes Absent Quebec
July 5, 2005: Was one of a few senators that said "no" to allowing Conservative Senator Anne C. Cools an extension of time during 2nd reading debate. Also voted on the motion that passed, which limited debate to six hours in 2nd reading.
Rose-Marie Losier-Cool Absent Yes New Brunswick
Sandra Lovelace Nicholas N/A N/A
New appointment
Frank Mahovlich Yes Yes Ontario
July 5, 2005: "Mahovlich responded to Senator Tkachuk saying he misinterpreted Senator Joyal, when Joyal said the Minister of Justice could make comments and answer questions at the committee, via videoconferencing while in France before Friday due to his schedule in France. Tkachuk says it is a ploy to get the bill out of 2nd reading by that time.
Paul J. Massicotte Absent Yes Quebec
Terry M. Mercer Yes Yes Nova Scotia
Mentioned SSM in a list of measures he is proud of: Hansard, February 12, 2004.
April: Confirmed once again he will support.
Pana Merchant Absent No Saskatchewan
Voted against Bill C-250
Lorna Milne Yes Yes Ontario
Grant Mitchell Yes Yes Alberta
Wilfred P. Moore Absent Abstained Nova Scotia
Senator Moore indicated he would have voted against the bill had he not abstained due to pairing.
Jim Munson Absent Yes Ontario
Lucie Pépin Yes Yes Quebec
She was the sponsor of C-250 in the Senate.
Robert Peterson Yes Yes Saskatchewan
Gerard A. Phalen No No Nova Scotia
Marie-Paule Poulin Absent Yes Ontario
Vivienne Poy Yes Yes Ontario
Responded to a letter saying she will vote in favour of C-38.
Pierrette Ringuette Yes Yes New Brunswick
Fernand Robichaud Yes Yes New Brunswick
June 29: C-38 entered 1st reading in the Senate today. Senator Prud'homme wanted to accelerate debate to the next sitting of the Senate. While some senators disagreed, Robichaud stated "move it into committee".
Bill Rompkey Yes Yes Newfoundland and Labrador
Rompkey is Deputy Government House Leader in the Senate and thus is expected to vote in favour. On July 4, 2005 he tabled a notice of motion to restrict debate on second reading to six hours.
Nick Sibbeston Absent No Northwest Territories
Voted against Bill C-250
David P. Smith Absent Yes Ontario
Peter Stollery Yes Absent Ontario
Claudette Tardif Yes Yes Alberta
Marilyn Trenholme Counsell Yes Yes New Brunswick
July 6, 2005: While C-38 was in 2nd reading, she said ``As a Christian, I often ask myself: `What would Jesus do?'." "In this case, in this time, I believe he would say `Yes.'"
Charlie Watt Absent Absent Quebec
Rod Zimmer N/A N/A Manitoba
New appointment

44

5

(2 abstained, 13 absent)

Conservatives[edit]

Name 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Province
Raynell Andreychuk Abstained Saskatchewan
July 5, 2005: Made a speech criticizing time allocation of the bill in 2nd reading. However, he did say "this is an issue about human rights. Any violation of human rights commands urgency. This is not just about same sex. This is about the right to freedom of expression and religion. It is about how we balance those elements."
W. David Angus Absent No Quebec
Voted against Bill C-250
Pat Carney Absent Absent British Columbia
May 2, 1980: As an MP, Pat Carney introduced Bill C-242, an act to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, The bill, which would have inserted "sexual orientation" into the Canadian Human Rights Act, didn't pass.
Andrée Champagne N/A N/A Quebec
New appointment
Ethel M. Cochrane No No Newfoundland and Labrador
Voted against Bill C-250
Gerald J. Comeau No No Nova Scotia
Anne C. Cools No No Ontario
Voted against Bill C-250
Former Liberal senator. Says the Government of Canada has a moral obligation to go to the people of Canada.
Sept 17, 2003: Says her position is that of the majority of Canadians. "Because Children and procreation are the result of that unit—it is one of those mysteries and miracles of life."
April 9, 2005: Was one of several speakers at the "March 4 Marriage" rally in Ottawa.
April 25, 2005: Stated in the senate: "This Parliament votes in one direction one day and goes in the opposite direction the next day. I saw that on the question of marriage. The Attorney General of Canada argued on one side of the issue one day and on the other side the next."
Consiglio Di Nino No No Ontario
July 6, 2005: Responding to a Senator who said she was a Christian and believes if Jesus were asked to vote, He would say "yes", Di Nino said "I don't have the same relationship with Jesus, obviously, as [Senator] Trenholme Counsell."
John Trevor Eyton Absent No Ontario
Michael Fortier N/A N/A Quebec
Appointed by Harper
Leonard J. Gustafson Absent No Saskatchewan
Voted against Bill C-33 (1996)
Janis G. Johnson Absent Absent Manitoba
Wilbert Joseph Keon No No Ontario
Noël A. Kinsella No No New Brunswick
Kinsella, the opposition leader, said in the February 11 Moncton Times & Transcript, "I will approach the bill objectively. I am not going to prejudge anything."
July 4, 2005: C-38 speech in 2nd reading: "by introducing Bill C-38, the government is attempting to link Charter rights and human rights to the sacrament of marriage. Marriage has nothing to do with Charter rights or human rights, in the view of many of us. This debate is about a political and social policy decision made by the government." Says there alternative approaches instead of dividing Canadians by passing the bill and legalizing same-sex marriage. Voted No on second reading.
Marjory LeBreton Abstained Abstained Ontario
Michael A. Meighen Absent Yes Ontario
Pierre Claude Nolin Absent Absent Quebec
In January 2005, Nolin announced that the Quebec-wing of the CPC would be bringing forward a host of "moderate" principles to the March 2005 CPC Policy Convention in Montreal, including a motion to support the rights of married same-sex couples to equal status in the courts of law.
July 5, 2005: While in 2nd reading, he critiqued Senator Rompkey's adopted motion to limit debate to 6 hours due to what Rompkey sees as stalling tactics. "I agree with the government's bill. Just because the rest of the world or the country took part in a debate is no reason for us not to have one. Not to have one would be a disservice to our institution."
Donald H. Oliver Absent Absent Nova Scotia
Nancy Ruth Absent Yes Ontario
Ruth is openly gay. She is a prominent feminist and gay rights advocate. Was a Progressive Conservative in the last parliament but has crossed the floor and now sits as a Conservative.
Gerry St. Germain Absent No British Columbia
Voted against Bill C-250
September 16, 2003: "Common sense and a respect for the origins of life dictated the evolution of this tradition as embraced in both religious practice and secular conduct".
June 29, 2005: C-38 entered 1st reading today. When the Speaker asked when the bill shall be read a second time, Germain said "Never!".
July 4, 2005: When C-38 entered 2nd reading debate today, Germain said the Senate should sit through the fall on this very important issue.
"By introducing Bill C-38, the government is attempting to link Charter rights and human rights to the sacrament of marriage. Marriage has nothing to do with Charter rights or human rights, in the view of many of us. This debate is about a political and social policy decision made by the government." Says the Supreme Court of Canada didn't rule the traditional definition of marriage unconstitutional. Also believes same-sex marriage will arode the family.
Hugh Segal N/A N/A Ontario
New appointment
Terry Stratton No No Manitoba
Voted against Bill C-250, Bill C-33 (1996)
July 4, 2005: Moved a motion to adjourn the debate on C-38 in 2nd reading today.
David Tkachuk No No Saskatchewan
Voted against Bill C-250, Bill C-33 (1996)

2

12

(1 abstained, 8 absent)

Independents[edit]

Name 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Province
Raymond Lavigne Yes Absent Quebec
Expelled from Liberal caucus on June 8, 2006.
P. Michael Pitfield Absent Absent Ontario
Marcel Prud'homme Abstained Yes Quebec
Close Trudeau ally and known civil libertarian.
Feb 10, 2004: Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin (and others) comment on his 40th year as a parliamentarian, pointing out that he has stayed true to his father's word, "we must believe in the universality of the protection of human rights or else hold our peace."
June 29, 2005: Moved to try have C-38 read a 2nd time at the next sitting of the Senate as opposed to waiting 2 days.
July 5, 2005: Says he has yet to make up his mind on the issue, but is against limiting debate. "I will vote against the closure motion if I am in the Senate. If I am not here, just remember that I said I was against this motion. I want to thank Senator Nolin for inspiring my comments yet again."
Jean-Claude Rivest Absent Absent Quebec
Feb 02, 2005: Expressed support for C-38.
Mira Spivak Yes Yes Manitoba
Held a civil liberties meeting at her house decades ago for a gay couple looking to get married.

3

0

(2 absent)

Progressive Conservatives[edit]

(Although the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada has merged into the Conservative Party of Canada, these senators have refused to join the new Conservative Party and have chosen to sit in the Senate as "Progressive Conservatives".)

Name 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Province
Norman K. Atkins Absent Yes Ontario
Elaine McCoy Yes Absent Alberta
Lowell Murray Absent Absent Ontario
July 4, 2005: Critiqued the official opposition leader, Noel Kinsella: "Honourable senators, I wish to ask the Leader of the Opposition why, on several occasions in his speech, he persisted in blaming the drafters for the flaws that he identified in the bill. Surely the drafters were acting on political instructions of the appropriate ministers."

2

0

(1 absent)

Independent New Democrat[edit]

Name 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Province
Lillian Dyck Yes Yes Saskatchewan
Voted "Yes" on second reading

1

0

(0 abstained or absent)