Adovcacy News - Cotler's reappointment disappointment
July 21, 2004
"As for Cotler, his was the kind of acrobatic feat that was almost too painful to watch ... By adding a question to the three the justice department had originally asked, the minister has ensured that the case that had been slated to be heard in April — potentially in the middle of an election campaign — will now be pushed off to the fall, with no ruling until sometime in 2005." Toronto Star, Jan. 29, 2004
The reappointment of Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to Prime Minister Paul Martin's new cabinet is a disappointment for same-sex marriage activists seeking a compassionate voice for human rights equality.
"In his short term as Minister, and despite his claims to be a human rights lawyer, Cotler has continued to fight to deny pension survivor benefits to same-sex partners and has yet to express a passionate statement in support of equal marriage rights. His predecessor, Martin Cauchon often said that "less than equal is less than adequate," while Cotler remains in the closet delaying, denying and dithering," says gay rights activist Ian Taylor.
"Cotler has been an abject failure in advancing human rights in this country," Taylor says. "He should show some real leadership by calling upon all of his provincial counterparts to follow the lead of the Yukon and provide same-sex marriage equally across Canada. Right now, some Canadians are more equal than others and that's wrong," says Taylor, a Toronto author and activist who was married earlier this year to his same-sex partner of 19 years.
"There is good news for defenders of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the new cabinet however. The appointments of anti-gay MP's like Joe Volpe, Joe Fontana and Tony Valeri mean these members must now vote with the government on any upcoming legislation - if they allow it onto the order paper," says Taylor, who is urging the Prime Minister to deal with the issue as soon as the Canadian Supreme Court brings down its October decision on same-sex marriage legislation [the Prime Minister doesn't even have to wait for the Supreme Court].
"There are also strong proponents of same sex marriage in the cabinet, including MP Scott Brison, Canada's first openly gay Cabinet Minister, although he's certainly not the first gay Minister. For the first time, Canada's Cabinet must deal with this issue with an open gay Minister at the table - hopefully with more respect than some Liberals have shown in the past."
"Yet, even the Conservatives would do well to urge speedy resolution on the marriage issue this year. I bet they don't want to go into the next election with this issue hanging over their heads and branding them for their intolerance and discrimination," Taylor says.