Thursday, February 10, 2005

Yankee Go Home Gay Canadians Tell Same-Sex Marriage Foes


Parliament Hill (Ottawa) Supporters of same-sex marriage legislation in Canada are telling conservative Christians from south of the border to keep their noses out of Canadian affairs.

Focus on the Family has reportedly sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to its Canadian affiliate to wage an anti-gay campaign and the Roman Catholic Knights Of Columbus in the US recently spent nearly $100,000 to print two million postcards now being distributed in Catholic churches across Canada for people to send to Members of Parliament.

Right-wing Christian groups have been urging their members to call long distance to Canada to tell MPs to vote against the Civil Marriage Act. One Ontario MP has said she has received 30 calls from Americans in the last 10 days.

American Christian broadcasters have also been targeting Canadians. Two weeks ago 365Gay.com reported that James Dobson, chairman of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, in a broadcast heard on 130 radio stations across Canada denounced the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin which brought in the same-sex marriage bill.

In addition, the opposition Conservative Party has been getting help from Republicans. Several GOP advisers have been working with the Conservatives to formulate attacks on the legislation and use it as a wedge issue in the next Canadian election.

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has said he will look at changing Canadian laws to prevent foreign interests from using their money to sway Canadian political debates. But he has conceded there may be little the government can do.

Nevertheless, Revenue Canada is examining the books of right-wing Canadian groups to see how the money pouring in from the US is being reported.

"There's a lot of money coming in from the United States to Canada,'' said Claude Cote, a Quebec spokesperson for gay-rights lobby group Egale Canada. "There's hundreds of thousands of dollars being sent from the U.S. by the Republican right to convince MPs to vote against the bill."

Evangeline Caldwell, coordinator of the Quebec Coalition for Same-Sex Civil Marriage said Canadians should resist foreign influence.

"It's not that people from other nations can't say something but arriving with the cavalry is little bit unnecessary,'' she said. "We can take care of our own debate and we are doing so."

A vote on the marriage bill is expected this spring.

*by Ben Thompson 365Gay.com Ottawa Bureau

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