A policy resolution was passed at the Conservative Party policy convention, held in Ottawa over the second weekend of June, that tones down the language slightly in the party’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Previously, Conservative Party policy said, “A Conservative Government will support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” The new language reads, “The Conservative Party supports legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
The wording of the resolution removes the onus from the government to introduce such a bill but keeps the door open for a private member’s bill on the issue, which would be a free vote in the House of Commons – something the policy resolution was specific about.
“This is not an issue the Conservative Party wishes to discuss,” says Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth, an out lesbian. “Same-sex marriage is safe with the Conservative government.”
Media was not allowed to observe during the policy session that advanced the resolution, which came from the Edmonton–Millwoods–Beaumont riding association, to the main policy plenary session on June 11. There, the resolution passed by a large majority with no debate on the floor.
During the recent election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the subject of same-sex marriage was “not a priority” for his government and that it would not introduce legislation about it.
The membership also debated a resolution on the rules for future leadership contests within the Conservative Party, opting in the end to retain the current weighted system of votes per riding. Delegates from smaller ridings, particularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and those with more Progressive Conservatives, feared that the alternative one member/one vote system could have allowed Conservatives from Western Canada, largely composed of former Reform Party members, to swamp their wishes.
Other defeated resolutions include a “high treason” policy that would have allowed government to strip citizenship rights from any Canadian convicted of high treason. The policy was an apparent reference to Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen currently serving time in Guantanamo Bay.