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Canadians for Equal Marriage
Hansard – Civil Marriage Act (C-38) debate – Nina Grewal (CPC)
March 24, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-38, the civil marriage act.
First, allow me to say that I am proud to be a member of a party that allows a member to vote how his or her conscience dictates, not how his or her party leader or whip orders him or her to vote. My party will have a free vote on this very important bill.
I think it is unacceptable in a parliamentary democracy for a Prime Minister to force members of his cabinet to vote for a measure they might not approve of. All MPs must be allowed to vote according to the dictates of their own conscience or the wishes of their constituents on this very important issue. I call on the right hon. gentleman to remove the whip, unmuzzle his cabinet members and allow them the dignity of voting as they believe.
Personally, I will vote against Bill C-38, the so-called same sex marriage bill. The Prime Minister has had an eleventh hour conversion to the cause of same sex marriage. Many Canadians will remember that in 1999 the government supported a Reform Party motion that stated marriage would remain the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. That motion easily passed by a vote of 216 to 55. The overwhelming majority of Liberal MPs, including Jean Chrétien and the current Prime Minister, voted in favour. So did today’s Deputy Prime Minister, who assured Canadians that the government had no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriage. How quickly they forget their promises.
Instead of taking a stand for or against same sex marriage from the start and dealing with it in Parliament, where it should have been decided after a broad public debate, the Liberals have ducked at every turn and thus handed the issue by default back to the courts. That of course is the Liberal way.
The courts have provided a convenient refuge for Liberals to avoid controversial issues. They delay and delay considering issues until the courts have resolved them. The Liberals then turn around and blame judges for forcing them to pass controversial legislative changes.
In a genuine democracy, the courts do not legislate. Enacting laws is a legislative function that is properly exercised only by elected representatives of the people.
The Liberals claim the courts have left them with no other choice than to introduce same sex marriage legislation. This is nonsense. On this issue the Supreme Court refused to be used as a political tool and to play the Liberal game. It left the decision of whether to legalize gay marriage up to Parliament. The court validated what the Conservative Party has been saying all along. It is Parliament that should be making the decisions on such fundamental matters of social policy.
Extending legal recognition to same sex marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the Charter of Rights. It has everything to do with debasing or diluting the traditional values of a sacred religious sacrament or covenant.
The debate is about family values, religious institutions, family units and procreation. Marriage is a voluntary union between one man and one woman. It has as its foundation, love, mutual satisfaction and procreation. The union of one man and one woman is mankind’s most enduring institution.
I will not stand in the way of two adults of the same sex who choose to live together as partners. I do vigorously oppose calling this union a marriage. It is not a marriage. It is a union, legal or otherwise, of two consenting adults, no more, no less.
The Liberal government has decided to make it a priority to change the traditional definition of marriage. To attempt to alter the meaning of marriage is to undermine the family, which is already under great pressure in our society.
Marriage has four basic prohibitions which are pretty much universal and timeless. We can only marry one person at a time, only someone of the opposite sex, never someone beneath a certain age, and not a close blood relative. These prohibitions have been grounded in morality and law. We need this stabilization in an ever changing world, but the Liberals want to take it away from us.
The government wants Canadians to believe that there are two different types of marriages, civil marriage and religious marriage. They are being intellectually dishonest. Marriage is marriage, regardless of the adjective one places in front of it. Whether someone gets married by a priest or by a judge, it does not change what we mean by marriage.
The government is now trying to change marriage for everyone. No longer will it symbolize the basic procreative relationship between one man and one woman. It will now merely be the recognition of a loving and committed relationship between two people. This begs the question, why not just keep marriage the same as it has always been and create another institution for relationships that have nothing to do with procreation?
This would be the Canadian way, the middle road between two extremes. It is also a solution that has been embraced by other countries in the world, including by France’s socialist government.
The Conservative Party believes that an alternative to marriage is an appropriate solution. Civil unions would allow the state to recognize relationships between two partners, be they homosexual or heterosexual, while at the same time maintaining marriage as it has been for hundreds of years the world over. This is also a solution that is agreeable to a majority of Canadians.
I hold little faith in Liberal claims that this legislation will in no way affect religious freedoms, and not just because the Supreme Court has already said the federal government has no control over the matter. It is, after all, the same government that five years ago promised to uphold traditional marriage. The government is obviously swayed by the flavour of the month, putting little stock in traditional beliefs and values.
The Liberals have shown little interest in protecting religious rights. In 2003 they refused to support amendments to hate crime legislation designed to protect religious expression. Last spring the Liberals tested how effective religious bigotry would play as an election strategy, polling Canadians on whether they would be more or less likely to vote for the Conservatives if they knew they had been taken over by evangelical Christians.
Recently the foreign affairs minister said that churches should butt out of the same sex marriage debate. Consider the Prime Minister’s arguments and his accusations against those who support traditional marriage. He claims we are intolerant and bigoted. If he is being sincere and not simply playing dirty politics, he must therefore see religious institutions as enclaves of intolerance.
How long will it take for the courts and the Liberals to attempt to force change upon these institutions? It does not take a big leap to imagine churches in the near future being prosecuted for being anti-homosexual and being forced to marry gays.
We may see tremendous pressure to take away the tax exempt status of churches and denominations and organizations that refuse to fully affirm and accept the homosexual lifestyle. Already a lesbian couple has a case before the B.C. Human Rights Commission claiming discrimination because a Catholic Knights of Columbus hall cancelled their wedding reception.
The ball is rolling and we must put a stop to it now before it becomes unstoppable. That is why Parliament must immediately take steps to protect and affirm freedom of religion in Canada.
My constituents in Fleetwood—Port Kells have made it clear how they want me to vote on Bill C-38. One Monday morning I logged on to my office computer and there were more than 1,400 e-mail messages regarding same sex marriage. Only three or four e-mails were in support. All the rest opposed the legislation. This was on just one day.
I have also held town hall meetings to discuss this issue, conducted surveys and made it clear where I stood on marriage during the 2004 election campaign. I believe that the unique character and institution of marriage should be strongly respected and legally recognized.
I will therefore be voting to retain the traditional definition of marriage because it is our party’s policy. It is what my constituents want and I believe it is the right thing to do.
Egale Canada ©2011