It seems that Burke has changed his mind - I wonder if he started to actually think about the laws of the land a bit further.
I really must be more careful about mentioning certain people in my blog - it seems as if within days of the somewhat snarky mention of Ted Morton, we find out that he's being channeled by other legislators - this time in New Brunswick.
It seems that Conservative MLA David Alward is proposing legislation that would "grant rights to commissioners who are opposed to same-sex "marriage" on religious grounds. ".
New Brunswick Attorney General T.J. Burke spoke out in support of the amendment, saying he saw no conflicts with the Charter of Rights an Freedoms regarding same-sex equality issues.
"We're not going to oppose the bill. The bill provides preference in choice for individuals who wish to perform same-sex marriages and who wish to decline. There's nothing really that's going to change with respect to the amendment," Burke said.
Ummm...let me put this in one word - BullSh!t.
As soon as you put a bill like this into law, you create a situation where someone acting as an agent of the secular government (and thus, the government itself) is able to discriminate against someone on religious grounds. Although less sweeping than Ted Morton's Bill 208, this amendment to the marriage law in New Brunswick still ultimately enacts legalized discrimination by the state.
Now, last I checked, Section 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads:
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Last I checked, there was a considerable body of case law established since 1983 that severely curtails the government's right to act in a discriminatory fashion. Remember that Marriage Commissioners are performing Civil Marriages, not religious marriages, and thus are acting not as agents of a church, but as agents of the State. I don't know how much law background Attorney General Burke has, but I suspect his understanding of the interpretation of the Charter in the courts is somewhat weak. (Or either that, like Ralph Klein, the man is fundamentally hostile to the equal treatment of GLBT citizens under the law)