16 June 2005

Kiwi Carnival

If the New Zealnd blogosphere can manage a Philosophy, et cetera: Kiwi Carnival, we should mount one as well.

Does Nicola Roxon believe divorce is the disunion of one man and one woman?

B.C.'s first gay divorce granted
Two women who got married in Parksville two years ago have been granted a divorce by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Nanaimo.

Gay and lesbians in B.C. won the legal right to marry in 2003, sparking a wedding boom.

Among the gays and lesbians who decided to get married was a woman who can only be identified — by court order — by her initials, J.S.

But the marriage didn't work out. And J.S. filed for divorce last year.

But she says she was shocked to discover that while her same-sex marriage was legal, she wasn't allowed to divorce — because the Divorce Act only allowed a man and a woman to part. That's what led her to the Nanaimo courthouse on Wednesday to change the law.

Madame Justice Laura Gerow agreed the divorce law discriminated against gays and lesbians.

And with the stroke of a pen, she granted the divorce — and changed the law to define a married couple as any two persons.

'I just floated out of the courthouse,' says J.S. 'I'm ecstatic.'

Well, the Martin government survived its confidence votes so the Canadian marriage thing will roll on for a while longer. More British Columbians in same sex marriages will get divorced. At some point it will become part of the landscape and most of us will be asking ourselves what the fuss was about.

15 June 2005

Canada headed for general election?

MP O'Brien throws wrench into night of confidence votes
London-Fanshawe MP Pat O'Brien has issued an ultimatum, saying he and an unnamed Liberal MP will vote against the minority Liberal government in a series of confidence votes Tuesday night unless the same-sex marriage bill is delayed.

If they carry out the threat, Paul Martin's government could fall, pushing the country into a summer election campaign.
O'Brien, who left the Liberal caucus this month to sit as an Independent over the gay-marriage issue, told CBC News that he will continue negotiating with Liberal officials in the hours before the voting begins at 10 p.m. EDT.

He wants a promise, in writing, that the passage of the same-sex marriage bill will not happen until after Parliament resumes in the fall.

Canada's Martin Probably Will Survive Votes Tonight
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who is relying on the support of political opponents to govern, probably will survive a series of votes tonight aimed at letting Parliament adjourn on time for summer recess.

Balloting on 18 measures, including amendments to this year's budget, will begin about 10 p.m. Ottawa time and last for two hours, said Al Toulin, a spokesman for Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri. Martin can count on enough backing to keep power, said Michael Behiels, an expert on Canadian politics at the University of Ottawa.

``We can all rest for the summer,'' Behiels said in a telephone interview. ``If the government falls it's going to be by accident.''

Martin's Liberal Party has had the support since April of the socialist New Democratic Party on budget bills, helping to stave off efforts by other opposition parties to topple his minority government. The two parties combine for 151 seats in the 308-seat parliament. There are four independent members of parliament, three of whom are former Liberal Party members.

Most of the votes today are deemed matters ``of confidence,'' meaning a loss in any of them could trigger the collapse of the government.

Last month, Martin overcame by one vote an attempt by the opposition Conservatives and the separatist Bloc Quebecois to topple his government. Support for the Conservatives has since waned, lessening the likelihood they'll press for elections, said Peter McCormick, a political science professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

Gay marriage may seem, to sober what's-in-it-for-me Australians, a weird issue on which to fight a general election. The Martin government's readiness to do just that speaks volumes about the importance the two nations give human rights.

14 June 2005

the secret way to predeployment

The Secret Way to War
In the United States, on the other hand, the Downing Street memorandum has attracted little attention. As I write, no American newspaper has published it and few writers have bothered to comment on it. The war continues, and Americans have grown weary of it; few seem much interested now in discussing how it began, and why their country came to fight a war in the cause of destroying weapons that turned out not to exist. For those who want answers, the Bush administration has followed a simple and heretofore largely successful policy: blame the intelligence agencies. Since 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' as early as July 2002 (as 'C,' the head of British intelligence, reported upon his return from Washington), it seems a matter of remarkable hubris, even for this administration, that its officials now explain their misjudgments in going to war by blaming them on 'intelligence failures' — that is, on the intelligence that they themselves politicized. Still, for the most part, Congress has cooperated. Though the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the failures of the CIA and other agencies before the war, a promised second report that was to take up the administration's political use of intelligence — which is, after all, the critical issue — was postponed until after the 2004 elections, then quietly abandoned.

Meanwhile, the Downng Street memo has led in Australia to zero, zip, nada questions to the prime minister about the point at which Australia joined this charade or was made aware that the intelligence had been fixed. The Man of Steel did go to all the trouble of inventing the word predeploy to explain why Australian forces were all placed in Iraq ready to go as soon as London and Washington declared that the inspections we now know they hadn't wanted and wouldn't accept had failed.