Amended laws to recognize same-sex ruling
By JEFF HARDER, Sun Media Queen’s Park Bureau
TORONTO – Ontario’s Conservative government will introduce and pass gay rights legislation in the coming session of the house.
The legislation will amend dozens of existing laws that fail to recognize same-sex couples, Attorney General James Flaherty confirmed yesterday.
“Our intention is to go ahead and introduce a bill so we can comply by Nov. 20,” Flaherty said.
The bill will bring Ontario into line with a Supreme Court of Canada decision that extends spousal recognition to gay and lesbian couples.
The province will not dispute the ruling, despite some internal opposition to homosexual rights.
“There are at least 60 provincial statutes potentially affected,” Flaherty said.
“The important thing is that we try to be comprehensive in our approach. We will have to introduce the bill and have an opportunity for the members of the legislature to vote by Nov. 20.”
Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said his caucus will support the bill. The entire Tory caucus voted against a similar bill introduced by the NDP in 1994.
The Government house leader, Norm Sterling, didn’t want to talk about the possibility of an omnibus gay rights law.
“I’m not commenting on that at this time,” he said.
The speech from the throne, which will be delivered tomorrow by Lt.-Gov. Hilary Weston, will focus on squeegee kids and taxpayer protection, he said.
“Taxpayer protection and the balanced budget legislation is really important to us. It will show prominence again.”
The Conservatives pledged to outlaw aggressive panhandling and squeegee kids in the spring election campaign.
Debate can’t start until a new speaker is named to replace Chris Stockwell, now labour minister.