[JURIST] Canadian Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] said Friday that he will ask MPs to vote this fall on a federal law permitting same-sex marriage [text]. The Liberal Party of former prime minister Paul Martin, which now controls only 103 of 308 seats in the House of Commons, passed the bill [JURIST report] last summer, making Canada one of four national governments, along with South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, that recognize same-sex marriage. A free vote allowing members to vote according to their conscience rather than along party lines was promised during the January federal election campaign and reiterated [JURIST report] earlier this spring; MPs are likely to be asked whether the issue should be revisited, not whether they support same-sex marriage, which current projections suggest most do [tracking website].
Critics claim that the issue is not a priority for Canadians, citing a January poll [PDF text] by Environics Research Group revealing that 66 percent of those surveyed did not want the matter of same-sex marriages brought back to Parliament. Reuters has more. The Globe and Mail has local coverage.