Yesterday, NDP MP Bill Siksay got a motion which commended the government on its action on Uganda passed by the entire House of Commons. I caught up with Siksay after Question Period today.
Q: Your Uganda motion yesterday – tell me how that came about.
A: I drafted it, ran it by Wayne Marston, our human rights critic, and Paul Dewar, our foreign affairs critic. They thought it was a good idea, and we shopped it around with the other parties. With Francine Lalonde, from the Bloc, who took it to her group, Rob Oliphant and Bob Rae took it the Liberals, and John Baird worked with the Conservative caucus. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we got agreement on it, and that’s how we got unanimous consent.
Q: I thought it was a little unusual – you were actually commending the government, which is unusual for an opposition party to do.
A: But I think in this case, they deserved commendation. They were very clear when I asked the government the question back in November – John Baird answered and was unequivocal in his position on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and also the Prime Minister raised it directly with the President of Uganda. I do think they should be commended, and I think that was an important part of the motion.
Q: What’s next on the Uganda file?
A: I think this is an important statement by the Canadian Parliament – a unanimous statement that will have some weight in the discussion in Uganda. I think we were clear in our motion that tinkering with the bill, which seems to be happening in Uganda, isn’t good enough – that decriminalisation is the goal, and respect for the rights of [queer] Ugandans is crucial, so hopefully that will have some influence in that discussion, and hopefully it’ll spur on other parliaments to take a similar stand and pass similar motions.