TORONTO, February 24, 2005 ( – At Approximately 5 p.m. today the Ontario Legislature passed, by voice vote only, Bill 171, which further enshrines same-sex marriage in Ontario law. Premier Dalton McGuinty proposed the move to change 73 provincial statutes, to introduce gender-neutral language that otherwise refers to wives and husbands. 

Progressive Conservative MPPs Bill Murdoch and Frank Klees spoke against the bill and made strong appeals to other members of the Legislature to join them in standing immediately after the voice vote to request a recorded vote. Legislature rules are that only five members need stand for a recorded vote to be taken.

The voice vote appeared to indicate a significant number of Members opposed the bill. However, only PC MPP Jerry Oellette had the courage to stand with Klees and Murdoch to request that Ontario citizens be allowed to know how their MPP’s voted on the historic bill. Many citizens had called their MPPs insisting that a recorded vote be taken. 

No two other members from any of the parties dared to defy the pre-arranged all-party collusion to withhold the individual members’ vote on the bill from the public. The bill was rammed through from introduction to final passage in only three days, with no significant debate and no opportunity for public input. 

NDP MPP Peter Kormos and the NDP caucus had been expected to also stand on principle in favour of the recorded vote. Kormos was mysteriously absent at the crucial time. 

PC MPP Jim Flaherty had given notice before the crucial vote that he could not be present because of a previously arranged appointment. Flaherty stood up with Klees and Ouelette the previous day to call for a recorded vote on the second reading vote. 

Of special note, Frank Klees made an admission that his party’s actions, when he was party whip during the similarly undemocratic October, 1999 passage of his party’s Bill C-5, were wrong. In response to Legislature comments that his party followed the same process in ramming through C-5 (omnibus bill which gave homosexuals the same rights as common-law spouses) Klees responded, with a candor highly unusual in today’s political culture, “it was wrong then and it is wrong now”. 

Only 27 of the 71 Members of the governing Liberal Party were present for the vote.

See also Ontario Bill to Enshrine Same-Sex Marriage in Province; Offers Limited Religious Protection

Urgent Ontario Action Item – Call MPPs Today Urging Vote Against Same-Sex Marriage Bill  

Ontario Government Trashes Democracy