The Manitoba NDP had some fightin’ words for the province’s Tories on Tuesday after they delayed debate on a resolution to mark the ten year anniversary of gay marriage in Manitoba. Verbal shots were fired as the NDP accused the Tories of being “out of touch” and “ducking” an issue that makes them uncomfortable. This accusation is somewhat credible:
In the early 2000’s the Manitoba Tories voted against same-sex adoption, and in 2005, one year after the legalization of same-sex marriage, a majority of Manitoba MLAs were opposed to it, which is unsurprising given the stance of Manitoba MLAs on fun in general. We’re pretty sure they’re opposed to everything.
Manitoba was Canada’s fourth province to legalize gay marriage, but its significance as a pioneer of LGBT rights runs deeper (no innuendo implied). In 1974, Winnipeg’s Chris Vogel and Rich North were the first gay couple to ask for and be refused a marriage license in all of Canada. Thirty years later, Vogel and North were one of three couples that brought lawsuits against the provincial government leading to the legalization of gay marriage by the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench (the fancy name for their supreme court). A couple managing to stay together for thirty-plus years in this day and age is the real treasure of this case.
Ten years after the landmark decision, the dust hasn’t yet settled (though it’s always dusty in Manitoba), and one could speculate that the Tories are still prissy about the legalization. That being said, it was well within the rights of Manitoba’s PC to block debate. Although the NDP have a majority in the legislature, Jim Rondeau, the NDP MLA who was slated to present the resolution, didn’t show up for work that day. If a representative of a private resolution isn’t present for their own legislation’s debate, it is up to the other parties of the House to decide if debate will go forward without that MLA, which brings us to our next point:
Who doesn’t show up to work the day they have a presentation? (other than Liberal MPs). Rondeau’s reason: “out of town at a convention,” the nature of which we can only speculate.
Essentially, the Tories were completely entitled to block the debate; if you don’t have the time to present your own resolution, why should everyone else take the time to debate it? And probably the stupidest thing about this whole affair is that although the 10 year anniversary of Manitoban gay marriage doesn’t fall until September 16, it is likely that the Manitoba Legislature will not get a chance to debate the resolution before then. Summer break for the legislators is scheduled to begin next week, and isn’t expected to end until November. Yeah. November. That’s six months of summer break for a profession that pays up to six figures! What?!
Apparently, there is so little going on in Manitoba that the province tells its politicans, “eh don’t worry about it bud, you might as well just stay at home and watch the crops.”
Between ducking debate and missing work, these people only work half the year. Well, despite their differences, it seems that Manitoba politicians can all agree on one thing: taking ‘er easy.
Update (6/06/2014): This article incorrectly referred to Manitoba Members of the Legislative Assembly as MPPs and not MLAs. The article has been corrected to better reflect reality.