Toronto
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Bill leaked to gay group?

Talk about connections. Canada’s gay and lesbian lobby group, EGALE, stands accused of sending out its analysis of Bill C-23 more than hour before it was introduced in the House Of Commons.



Reform member of Parliament Eric Lowther is not impressed.



“In an e-mail that was sent from John Fisher, egale@sympatico.ca, the author outlined in detail his analysis of Bill C-23. It was sent at 10:56am on Friday, one hour and four minutes before Bill C-23 was tabled in the House Of Commons,” said Lowther (Calgary Centre), on a point of order on Feb 15.



“As you can appreciate, Mr Speaker, in order to do an analysis of a omnibus bill such as Bill C-23, the author would have had to be in possession of the bill many hours before his e-mail transmission.”



Lowther leveled the accusation again during a Standing Committee On Justice And Human Rights hearing on the proposed legislation.



“I think, Mr Lowther, that you are on a wild goose chase,” responded Justice Minister Anne McLellan.



The executive director of Equality For Gays And Lesbians confessed to sending the e-mail – on Pacific Standard Time. “I did send out an e-mail the afternoon that the bill was introduced,” John Fisher testified to the committee.



“I posted a – I won’t say detailed – an overview analysis of the bill two hours later at about 2pm Eastern Standard Time. “When I send an e-mail to that list, it goes to our listserver which is based in BC, and is then distributed to our members all across the country.”



EGALE’s analysis of the bill was uniformly positive.



Bill C-23 was introduced Feb 11, then went directly to second reading and passed by a vote of 161 to 61.



That vote, sending the bill to the Standing Committee On Justice And Human Rights, was not a free vote for Liberal members of Parliament. It was whipped, or also known as a government vote.



No Reform Party members supported the bill. MP Ian McClelland, whose son is gay, was absent for the vote.



The Bloc Québécois (28 for, 10 against) and Progressive Conservatives (10 for, five against) voted freely.



Fourteen Grits voted against. They are:

• Raymond Bonin (Simcoe-Grey)

• Murray Calder (Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey)

• Charles Hubbard (Miramichi)

• David Ifrody (Provencher, Manitoba)

• Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt)

• Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis)

• Dan McTeague (Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge)

• Pat O’Brien (London-Fanshawe)

• John O’Reilly (Victoria-Haliburton)

• Janko Peric (Cambridge)

• Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce)

• Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex)

• Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest)

• Byron Wilfert (Oak Ridges).



After an adjournment, the House resumes sitting Mon, Mar 13, and hearings into C-23 could continue with the appearance of witnesses. On Mon, Mar 20, the committee is expected to do a clause by clause examination.



The omnibus legislation would change some 68 statutes and allows for the recognition of same-sex relationships.