OTTAWA, April 22, 2004 ( – In the Canadian Senate today a lengthy debate and unprecedented complex procedural tactics over homosexual hate crimes Bill C-250 managed to fend off determined efforts to pass a motion of closure to the debate.  Senator Lowell Murray’s apparently unprecedented Senate “Notice of Motion to Dispose of Bill C-250”, introduced on Wednesday, is as follows:  “That it be an Order of the Senate that on the first sitting day following the adoption of this motion, at 3:00 p.m., the Speaker shall interrupt any proceedings then underway; and all questions necessary to dispose of third reading of Bill C- 250, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda) shall be put forthwith without further adjournment, debate or amendment; and that any vote to dispose of Bill C-250 shall not be deferred; and That, if a standing vote is requested, the bells to call in the Senators be sounded for fifteen minutes, after which the Senate shall proceed to take each vote successively as required without the further ringing of the bells.”  So, had the Senate addressed and passed the motion, further debate would have immediately been halted and a Third Reading vote on C-250, without debate, would have been scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m., the next sitting day of the Senate. However, a motion by Senator Joyal, which would effectively prohibit any debate or amendments to Senator Lowell’s motion, did pass in the Senate at the end of the Thursday session. This type of motion was reported to have been used in the Senate only four times in the past 100 years.  Senator Lynch-Staunton stated Thursday evening, “…Senator Murray’s motion and Senator Joyal’s motion are brutal and unnecessary. If accepted, they would set a precedent. This place does not operate by having a senator stand up and say, ‘I have had enough of your debate, and the day after this motion passes, we will vote on it at three o’clock.”’

The Senate adjourned at approximately 9:40 pm after Thursday’s standoff which began at about 4 p.m. The small band of tenacious Senators opposing the bill are delighted to have won the day again and stopped what could have been the end of the C-250 struggle if Senator Murray’s motion of closure had been voted on.

As it stands now, the subamendment is scheduled to be voted on at 5:30 on Tuesday, immediately followed by a vote on the main amendment to change the phrase “sexual orientation” to “sex”. Immediately after that, the likely passage of the closure vote, since a large majority of the Senate supports C-250, will result in a Third Reading vote on C-250 on Wednesday at 3 p.m. But, as one political advisor cautioned, none of this is still 100% certain.  See the Hansard record of Thursday’s debate at:  Part 1 Part2