But will they use the notwithstanding clause to protect the amendments?
Section 15 and the commenters on this post make some interesting observations on the amendments being considered for Bill C-38, in an effort to keep the Liberal backbench happy.
As a number of people are observing, many of these amendments will likely crumble before a court challenge, particularly the one about justices of the peace being allowed to refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. This seems to echo some of the reasons underlying the fall of Canada's abortion legislation. As far as I know, Canadian law has to provide for procedural equity in terms of access to the law. If there is only one JP in a remote district of Canada and he/she refuses to marry a gay couple, then the law is not being implemented equitably. The courts will probably strike this section down, and I'm surprised that MPs don't recognize this - perhaps they will try to protect this section with the notwithstanding clause!
Likewise, issues of renting out church halls are probably going to fail to pass legal muster as well. I feel somewhat conflicted about this particular issue. In principle, I do believe that any service or good being sold to the public should be done so without distinction as to the purchaser's race, sexual orientation, gender, etc., I do question the motives of a couple who would try to get married in a property owned by a group that disapproves of your marriage. It smacks of political grandstanding, and I would hope that this particular section, if adopted as an amendment, is not challenged, at least for a few years. To a certain extent, a bit of live and let live is needed if a society is to function. Religious institutions and groups are unlikely to change their views on gay marriage if a confrontational/legalistic approach is taken. A bit of breathing room on this issue might allow for some "sober second thought", rather than knee-jerk defensive behaviour. And while the argument might be made that in a small community, the church/legion hall is the only game in town, I think it is more likely that the first legal challenge would come from a big city, as it recently was in Vancouver, over a Knights of Columbus Hall.
Like Section 15, I can live with these amendments in the interests of getting C-38 passed. They can always be struck down by the courts later. Perhaps I'm biased though, as my currently legal same-sex marriage is still not recognized in New Brunswick, where I will likely be living next year. Recommend this Post