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Old November 29th, 2006, 10:58 AM  
Whisper
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Default Canadian Prime Minister delivers on pledge to revisit same-sex issue

The federal Conservatives plan to make good on an election campaign promise to re-open the discussion on same-sex marriage.

The debate is expected to get started as early as Wednesday, The Canadian Press reports.

On Tuesday, the federal government confirmed that the debate will be followed-up by a pre-Christmas House of Commons vote on the divisive issue.

The motion that will be brought to the House is unlikely to pose a direct challenge to the existing legislation -- which recognizes marriage between same-sex couples -- but would instead likely ask whether MPs are willing to repeal or amend the law as it currently stands.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised during the election campaign that he would hold a free vote on the issue and would abide by the Commons' decision on the issue.

Harper had signalled he would hold the vote this fall, but has faced accusations this month from a same-sex marriage advocacy group that he was intentionally delaying the issue.

Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year. While Liberal backbenchers had permission to vote freely, ministers were told to support the bill.

About three dozen Liberal backbenchers voted against the legislation. And Ontario Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi left his cabinet post to vote against the government.

In the end, with the support of the majority of Liberal, Bloc and New Democrat MPs, Bill C-38 passed in a 158 to 133 vote.

Most analysts have predicted that December's expected motion to revisit the debate will fail. The NDP officially supports same-sex marriage, along with the vast majority of Bloc MPs and at least half of all Liberals MPs.

However, the timing of the motion could pose the first major challenge to the newly elected Liberal leader. Political analysts have predicted the new leader will be faced with a decision on whether to allow individual MPs to vote with their conscience.

The leadership convention kicked off Wednesday in Montreal, and will wrap up by the end of the weekend.

With files from The Canadian Press
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