news from the north

You may have read today that Canada passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. The ‘final bill’ passed by a margin of 158 to 133. The stories I read about the process seemed to consider the bill’s final approval a done deal, but an aside at the end of the CBC news clip mentioned needing both approval from the Canadian Senate and “Royal Assent”.

Thus follows an interesting foray into the Wikipedia. It turns out that the Canadian Senate, the upper house of the Canadian parliament, is an appointed body of 105 members. I guess it rarely fails to approve lower-house legislation, deferring to the more democratic body. It’s been since 1991 that they failed to approve a lower-house bill. Apparently, the thing is regarded as something of a boondoggle, and indeed, two of the major political parties up there are calling for its abolition.

I’m generally a fan of upper houses, and their strange customs. The “sober second thought” function of an upper house is great, when properly exercised in a manner I agree with at the time.

When I heard the words “Royal Assent” I got all excited, because I thought that part of the job of the United Kingdom’s Queen was signing bills from Canada. It’s disappointing to learn, instead, that Canada’s got a Governor General who does the bill-signings. Right now, it’s a woman, and guess what her spouse is called? The Canadian Vice Regal Consort, which is possibly the most awesome title you could get by marrying someone appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister.

So not only do Canadian gays get to have a governmental system that’s way more interesting than ours, they also will get to marry each other, assuming the rubber-stamp Senate and the rubber-stamp Governor General rubber-stamp the bill. Way to go, Canada!

One Response to “news from the north”

  1. thatbob says:

    I actually learned most of what I needed to know about Canada’s upper house from a description of Senator Lance Prevert on this “You Can’t Do That on Television!” FAQ:

    Sadly, this website’s “Where are they now?” page for cute, cute Alasdair Gillis doesn’t seem to be up any longer, but you can see him here on this page from Slimecon 2002:

    Hope this helps!

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