The Liberals are screaming that Stephen Harper would roll back Charter rights by revisiting the same-sex marriage issue.
As many commentators have stated before, the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage; it merely ruled that redefining marriage did not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quite a significant difference between saying that SSM is permissible under the Charter and saying that it is mandatory.
And if we want to go down that road, why did the Liberals allow their backbenchers to vote against a so-called Charter right while not permitting their ministers the same freedom?
If legislation to repeal the redefinition of marriage were to come before Parliament, would the Liberals whip all of their members to vote against the repeal? Why not, if it is such a fundamental human right?
Worries that the revival of this issue will derail the Conservative campaign will likely prove exaggerated. Stephen Harper has defused it by stating the party policy in no uncertain terms, at the beginning of the campaign, to avoid it becoming one of the items of the "hidden agenda."
Harper's failure to address social policy questions upfront, and finding himself reacting to off-the-cuff statements by MPs by referring to the absence of a party policy on such matters, needlessly fuelled the "hidden agenda" rumours all throughout the last campaign.
Now that it's out there--a free and final vote, no hiding behind the courts, no whipping of the cabinet--after the initial media frenzy, people will say, "Was that what we were afraid of? How foolish!"
OBITER DICTA: There is a real need for a debate about judicial activism and its effects on government, and the effects of the Charter of Rights on our constitutional order, and whether the Charter in its current form actually is an effective protection of rights and freedoms. But we'll never get a proper debate during an election, certainly not in the media, and least of all in our law schools. Canadian legal scholarship follows a rigid orthodoxy that makes Islamic madrassas look like bastions of free inquiry in comparison.
ADDENDUM: The NDP is staying silent about the issue. They know where they stand, and so does everyone else. Unlike the Liberals, who have to hide their divisions under hysterical rhetoric.