White Christmas: A Conservative MP's gift

 

 

 

 

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There is no need for Parliament to even wait for the Supreme Court Reference in October. Martin should do now, with the support of the NDP and the BQ, what should have been done when the Liberals had a majority: bring same-sex marriage to the rest of Canada.The courts have spoken. The voters have responded. It is time.

 

 

Stephen Harper's marriage strategy reduces the Charter to empty words

 

 

"Well the heck with the courts, eh," White responds. "You know, one of these days we in this country are gong to stand up and say, the politicians make the laws and the courts do not. The courts interpret that law. And if we don’t like that interpretation there’s the Notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the Liberal Government has never invoked and said they will not use. I believe we’ll see that with us in the House of Commons because enough is enough of this stuff."
Randy White, Let No One Put Asunder, Vox Veritas Pictures Ltd., 2004

 

 

"The Conservative party would make impulsive and wide-spread use of the notwithstanding clause to recind the fundamental rights of Canadians," Martin said June 25 in a press conference televised live across the country. "The conservatives would arbitarily take those rights away: take away: rights that contradict their political ideology. Rights that belong not to any political party, but rights that belong to all Canadians."

 

 

Paul Martin uses same-sex marriage for votes.

 

 

"I never thought that I would see such a graphic admission of the Conservative Party's intentions, but we have. It can't be ignored by me, not by Mr. Harper, and not be Canadians. Canadians feel deeply about the protection of individual and minority rights. I believe that a true national leader recognizes that the use of the notwithstanding cluase will take us down a slippery slope toward the erosion of individual and minority rights and freedoms. It is a step that we should not take. It is a step that we must not take."
Paul Martin, June 25, 2004

 

 

Commitment to Charter means no free vote on same-sex marriage.

 

 

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Adovcacy News - White Christmas: Conservative MP's gift

June 29, 2004

White Christmas: a Conservative MP's gift
Election is a victory for same-sex marriage


The Canadian federal election began with the issue of same-sex marriage, and other Charter rights, in the shadows of the campaign. The Liberal Party's Paul Martin intended to keep gay marriage off the agenda. Martin put the breaks on Prime Minister Chretien's progress towards equal marriage and, with the complicity of Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, he delayed the delivery of marriage equality to the rest of Canada in an attempt to downplay the issue during an election campaign.

But as June 28 and election day neared and Paul Martin was fighting for political survival, the situation became much different. Martin increasingly used same-sex marriage and Charter rights as a way to differentiate himself from Stephen Harper's Conservative Party.

"The Conservative party would make impulsive and wide-spread use of the notwithstanding clause to rescind the fundamental rights of Canadians," Martin said June 25 in a press conference televised live across the country. "The conservatives would arbitrarily take those rights away: take away rights that contradict their political ideology, rights that belong not to any political party, but rights that belong to all Canadians."

To prove his point, Martin used a film featuring Randy White, a former justice critic and MPExternal link to OutPersonals with the Conservative Party. White begins his appearance in the clip from Let No One Put Asunder (Vox Veritas Pictures Ltd.) by assuring us that his "position and the Conservative Party's position are identical." He than launches into an attack of Canada's rights and freedoms and the courts that uphold them.

"I'm an outspoken advocate for the traditional definition [of marriage], says the Langley-Abbotsford Bible-belt representative. "And you know what? I'm sick and tired of apologizing to some people who think we should change it. And I don't apologize for it. I was raised in a family that believes in the definition of one man and one woman at the exclusion of all others. And you know, when we were raised in this country, when I was raised in a family, we didn't talk about the definition of marriage. It wasn't a definition. It was a personal feeling, a personal part of your integrity, a personal part of your growing up and your value system. That's what it is today. I don't have to explain to anybody about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether or not the courts are right or wrong. I have my value system. I believe in my value system. It's an extension of my mother and father, my children, my aunts and uncles, and the people I knew and grew up with. That's the way it's going to stay in my mind."

This former justice critic is most willing to discard the law when it suits him. The decisions in favour of same-sex marriage, from five consecutive courts in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, are just as easily discounted by White (who suggests that gays find a different name for marriage: "hobunkia").

"The lower courts have made the decision that this whole idea of marriage to heterosexual individuals is an affront to the Charter of Rights. These are lower courts. You are going to get these odd decisions from them ... which the greater of society disagree with. I'm not sure of the section of the act you're talking about there [a reference to the equality guarantees in Section 15 of the Charter]. All I can say is that the courts ought not to be involved in this issue. We have already defined what marriage is."

It's hard to know what is most disturbing: a justice critic's ignorance of the Charter or his willingness to attack it. The irrational The Best Deals on News Magazinesand emotional response in a position of authority showed voters that the brown-shirt agenda of the Harper Conservatives took precedence over any actual grasp of the details of a particular portfolio.

White was all too eager to show how little he knew when he spoke about the arrival of marriage equality in Canada. His ill-informed diatribe attempted to portray the Ontario marriage decision as a result of a judge seeking to make a name for himself (Ontario's Chief Justice Roy McMurtry is one of the "fathers" of Canada's Constitution).

What about the rule of law? What about the role the courts have in delivering blind justice for the people?

"Well the heck with the courts, eh," White responds. "You know, one of these days we in this country are gong to stand up and say, the politicians make the laws and the courts do not. The courts interpret that law. And if we don’t like that interpretation there’s the Not Withstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the Liberal Government has never invoked and said they will not use. I believe we’ll see that with us in the House of Commons because enough is enough of this stuff. We are not going to be legislated by judges in the country, nor should we be. Judges are appointed individuals, not elected, not responsible to anybody but themselves. And …um…I think most people are getting sick and tired of judges writing the law to suit themselves and to suit the current Liberal Government, in fact. And again I’ll say it: I wish governments and judges would respect out society and the people within it for what we are and not for what they want us to be. It’s got to stop."

And as Harper said, the Conservatives would begin by hacking away rights by using the Not Withstanding Clause to maintain marriage discrimination, but as White points out, there are plenty more targets than lesbians and gays.

"Well the Not Withstanding Clause has not been used by any of the governments and it’s time that we started to exert our responsibility as politicians in the country," says White. "If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there’s got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there. So the Not Withstanding Clause, which that was meant for when it was originally designed, should be used and I would think that not just the definition of marriage but I think you’ll see more uses for the Not Withstanding Clause in the future. And I sincerely hope it is because the charter of rights and freedoms, I think you’ll even see that redefined as the charter of rights and freedoms and responsibilities which is really needed for an amendment.”

"I never thought that I would see such a graphic admission of the Conservative Party's intentions, but we have," Paul Martin responded. "It can't be ignored by me, not by Mr. Harper, and not be Canadians. Canadians feel deeply about the protection of individual and minority rights. I believe that a true national leader recognizes that the use of the Not Withstanding clause will take us down a slippery slope toward the erosion of individual and minority rights and freedoms. It is a step that we should not take. It is a step that we must not take."

Last night Canadian voters agreed, giving Paul Martin's Liberal Party a minority government and keeping the Conservatives from power. In fact, with the NDP and B.Q. influence on a Liberal minority government, the Conservative Party has been effectively shut out of influence on social issues.

Liberal
Con
NDP
B.Q.
Oth.
135
99
19
54
1

Gay marriage was targeted by Catholic Bishops and Conservatives alike during this election but it withstood the efforts of those who oppose equality and became one of the flash points (thanks to Mr. White) that rallied Canadians around the Liberal Party at the 11th hour, befuddling the predictions of polls and punsters.

We were grateful to see our Liberal MP Dennis Mills defeated last night, but many other anti-gay Liberal MPs remain. Still, with the continued strong support from the BQ and the NDP, we are most confident that marriage equality will be delivered, by Parliament, to the remaining provinces and territories of Canada.

There is no need for Parliament to even wait for the Supreme Court Reference in October. Martin should do now, with the support of the NDP and the BQ, what should have been done when the Liberals had a majority: bring same-sex marriage to the rest of Canada.

The courts have spoken. The voters have responded. It is past time.


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