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Paul Dewar

Ottawa Centre MP comes very, very close, but won't say for sure

HE'S PROBABLY ON OUR SIDE. Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar is playing coy, along with fellow gay New Democrats Libby Davies and Bill Siksay, about how he'll vote on age-of-consent bill. Credit: Capital Xtra file photos

Listen to what NDP MP Paul Dewar has to say about bill C-22, legislation to raise the age of consent to 16 from 14:

“I wouldn’t support it presently.

“My own instinct is that there are problems with it.

“It would be very difficult for me to change my mind.

“Will I vote in favour of this bill, in any manifestation of it? Not likely.

“I think it would be preferable if they sent the bill back and just got rid of it, frankly.”

It’s close, but like NDP MPs Bill Siksay and Libby Davies, he hasn’t said for sure what he’ll to when it’s time to vote. Meanwhile, NDP justice critic Joe Comartin has been working on amendments, hoping to include enough changes to warm up people like Dewar.

Dewar calls C-22 “a decoy used by the Conservatives”; the Ottawa Centre MP, a former teacher, would prefer the government focus on other aspects of intimate relationships: “early education about healthy sexuality, gender relations, and media messages” directed at young people, as well as “HIV supports and education,” steps to combat violence against women, and poverty.

He says he doesn’t like the bill, its motives and what it ignores, but he won’t say he’ll vote against it.

“You don’t know what it’s going to look like when it comes out the other end. Every MP, every responsible legislator, says that they’ll [wait and] see,” says Dewar.