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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Strategizing" equal rights? 

If Dion lets the Conservatives win any vote on same-sex marriage, no matter how harmless the motion appears to be, just because he is trying to pander to his caucus -- well, then, he might as well quit right now.
For the Liberals to throw gay rights under the first bus to pass them by would mean either that the Liberal caucus members are gutless when faced with any kind of organized lobby group, or that Dion himself is too gutless to lead the caucus in a controversial question. Either way, they're toast.
The Liberals are running the "free vote" idea up the flagpole as a "strategic" question. This is fine, I guess, as long as gay marriage itself doesn't lose in the process:
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is poised to allow his MPs to vote freely on the question of reopening the same-sex marriage debate, musing that imposing party discipline would only hand the Conservative government more leverage on the issue . . . if the question was strictly on striking down the right of gays to marry [Dion]would in fact insist on voting the party line.
But Dion said for now it's important to think strategically.
"If we have a party vote, he'll say that I muzzled my MPs and that if I had let them vote freely the motion would have passed," Dion said of Harper.
"Maybe from a strategic point of view, it would be better to have a free vote."
Dion is doubtless also trying to avoid conflict on his first week on the job. A handful of Liberal MPs are in favour of revisiting the same-sex issue, and would have to be disciplined if they acted out of step with a whipped vote . . .
. . . there seems almost no chance the vote will pass in the Commons, with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP both imposing party discipline, and the vast majority of Liberals against reopening the debate.
A number of Conservatives, including cabinet ministers John Baird, Jim Prentice, Loyola Hearn and David Emerson are also expected to vote against the motion, along with a number of other Tory MPs.
But how much "leverage" would Dion and the Liberals have if a majority in the Commons actually did vote to re-open the gay marriage issue -- just because everyone was too busy strategizing and pandering and triangulating and all that, and didn't get an accurate count?

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