it comes to people who wish to live together, whether they are women or men, why
do they have to be out here in the public always wanting to call it marriage?
Why are they in parades?"
"Why are men dressed up as women on floats?" Elsie Wayne asked. "... We do not do that." Yet here she is, dressed in a tuxedo on the cover of her 1998 autobiography.
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is screaming intolerance. It's a complete failure to understand why we have Gay
think most Canadians feel we should not have to tolerate bigotry in Canada. Elsie's
statements are an embarrassment to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
and an embarrassment to the Parliament of Canada. She should not be deputy leader
of our party. She has brought great shame to the party."
the kind of language I think we have to be careful not to use in the House of
wasn't just a personal conviction that was espoused. The language was incredibly
excessive, it was intolerant, it was way over the top. Speaking your mind doesn't
necessarily mean saying the first thing that comes into your head."
is a ridiculous hatemonger who has long overstayed her welcome in federal politics."
was startling in her statement, however, was not what she said but how she said
it. Her angry, aggressive and irrational rant betrays something larger: a deep
hatred of gay people. That is what we should condemn."
is the same mentality that lurks among the book-banning crowd."
May 9, 2003 (Updated June 2)
Wayne, the deputy leader of the Progressive Conservatives, said yesterday that
homosexuals should "shut up" about their lifestyle and complained that Canadians
should not have to tolerate gay pride parades, drag queens and same-sex marriages.
"I was almost
sickened, and I felt really sad for her by the end of her statement, because of
the venom and prejudice just dripping from her voice."
by her outrage, I can only assume that Wayne has found the whole human rights
movement confusing and irksome. Why couldn't Rosa Parks have just shut up and
given up her seat on that bus to the nice white folks? Why couldn't the Jews in
Nazi Germany just shut up about losing their homes, their loved ones and their
lives? Why couldn't Nellie McClung have just shut up about wanting women to have
the right to vote?"
Yesterday's session in the Canada's Parliament began predictably enough. Like many times in recent years, during the opening Routine Proceedings, petitions were brought forward by two members of the Alliance party, calling on Parliament to pass legislation with variations on a theme stating that marriage should be declared "a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."
Currently the definition of marriage is common-law, which is a judge-made rule. Marriage is not defined in statute, nor is it "life-long". Divorce is legal in this country.
Then the House of Commons moved on to Government Orders and it began to emerge that marriage was going to be the main subject of the day. Vic Toews, another member of the Alliance party, and a member of the infamous Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (the group that has been holding hearings on same-sex marriage - a committee that has since been defanged by the now unanimous agreement from the courts that same-sex marriage must be enacted to adhere to Charter rights) stood to sponsor a motion:
"That this House call upon the government to bring in measures to protect and reassert the will of Parliament against certain court decisions that: (a) threaten the traditional definition of marriage as decided by the House as, “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”; (b) grant house arrest to child sexual predators and make it easier for child sexual predators to produce and possess child pornography; and (c) grant prisoners the right to vote."
The linkage of loving same-sex partners to sexual predators and prisoners was consistent with the testimony this member has welcomed in the marriage committee.
Mr. Toews' position is highly hypocritical considering he did not complain when Justice Pitfield, of B.C.'s lower court, ruled that our constitution was frozen and the justice denied the federal government the ability to recognize same-sex marriage in the absence of a constitutional amendment.
"This is the worst kind of judicial activism," wrote Douglas Elliott in the U.B.C. Law Review (Vol. 36:1). "It is an activism, which not only restricts rights, but places a retroactive and unwritten constitutional straightjacket on a vulnerable minority seeking equality ... Social conservatives have persistently hammered away at our judiciary for its Charter rulings, demanding that matters be left with Parliament. It has been suggested that this has less to do with their love of Parliament than with their unhappiness with the Canadian judiciary's admirable role in protecting gays and lesbians from unjust discrimination. It is more than a little ironic that, in the greatest legal victory for social conservatives to date, these putative advocates for the supremacy of Parliament have sought and obtained an order from a judge which forbids Parliament from making a decision on a contentious policy question."
Fortunately, the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned Justice Pitfield's ruling this month, aligning the court with similar decisions in Ontario and Quebec, a fact that has inflamed the rhetoric from homophobes and bigots.
Mr. Toews, in his fury over the advancement of rights for gays and lesbians, seems confused by his outrage. In the same speech, just after he demanded that Parliament settle the issue of same-sex marriage, rather than the courts, he contradicted himself and expressed disappointment that the Liberal government may not request further direction from the courts after all.
"Last week," Toews said, "when the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that prohibiting same sex marriage was discriminatory, it joined two other recent lower court rulings in Ontario and Quebec. I was surprised, perhaps I should not have been, but I was certainly disappointed to hear the justice minister suggesting the possibility that he may choose not to appeal the British Columbia decision ..."
In fact, Toews just wants to ensure marriage discrimination continues, and he doesn't really care how that is done, in the courts or in parliament, but in the alternative, he will lament the lack of leadership, no matter what the Liberals do. Such is the logic of bigotry.
Liberal Don Boudria responded, " I must say that, having heard my hon. colleague's speech, it is my impression that we should instead be having a motion to protect society against speeches such as the one we have just heard. Some members of the House have suggested that the courts are assuming a role that is not contemplated in the Constitution. That is close to ridiculous. Such comments may cause people to question the legitimacy of the courts. In a society where we value the law, comments like this coming from parliamentarians run totally contrary to the principles we are called upon to defend in this Chamber, collectively and individually ... I believe that we have a duty to dispel the notion that judicial review is anti-democratic. It is not. It is a protection of democracy. This is a notion that is often preferred when individual or minority rights have been protected against majority excesses."
"Frankly, my constitutents do not come to my office or call to complain about judges," New Democratic Party (NDP) M.P. (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) Wendy Lill agreed. She went on to describe the true aims of the Alliance party. "They have decided that their political future depends on retreating into a campaign of divisiveness, of playing on misunderstanding of and bigotry against gays and lesbians ...This shows that the Alliance believes in the Animal Farm approach to equality. It says that all Canadians are equal, but some should be more equal than others. The motion says that if someone is gay or lesbian, that person should not be equal and the law should sanction bigotry against those Canadians. The only problem with this narrow-minded concept of heterosexual superiority is that as soon as we say some Canadians can be legally allowed to have fewer rights, then in reality all Canadians have fewer rights. "
The Alliance Party's attack on the Supreme Court of Canada, and the checks and balances in a democracy, was shocking to many in the house, especially when the Alliance party is the official opposition in Parliament.
NDP M.P. (Halifax) Alexa McDonough spoke about such fascist tendencies in the Alliance party: " ... it scares the wits out of me to think that an official opposition party, that could become the government, would have that much disrespect not just for the current Supreme Court of Canada but for the whole system of checks and balances that is at the very heart of a healthy, dynamic democracy that is responsive to the needs, rights and freedoms of our citizens."
Elsie Wayne, Member of Parliament for Saint John stood to add to the attacks against the Supreme Court's adherence to Charter law. She began by impugning the judges. "If they are going to be honourable members, then they had better define marriage as a union between a man and woman and then I will call them honourable, but I will not if they do not."
Then Wayne went on to attack her true targets: the gays and lesbians who have been protected by the courts when politicians like Wayne would not.
"When it comes to people who wish to live together, whether they are women or men, why do they have to be out here in the public always wanting to call it marriage? Why are they in parades? Why are men dressed up as women on floats? They do not see us getting up on floats to say we are husband and wife. We do not do that. Why do they have to go around trying to get a whole lot of publicity? If they are going to live together, they can go live together and shut up about it. There is no need for this nonsense whatsoever and we should not have to tolerate it in Canada ... As I have stated before, if people wish to live together they can go live together, but do not expect us to endorse it as marriage because they live together. "
"We will continue to fight for the traditional marriage," Wayne vowed. "We will not stop and we want the Supreme Court of Canada to know it ... I thought we made the rules. I thought we were the ones who brought in how our country was going to grow and how our people were going to live..."
Alexa McDonough (NDP) stood to query Wayne, "I have a particular question for the member for Saint John. When she said go and live together if you want but just shut up about it and do not ask for equal rights that neighbours and other family members have, is that-- "
"A mother and a daughter live together and they don't ask for equal rights," Wayne said. "A father and a son live together and they don't ask for equal rights-- "
Today, Wayne expressed "regret" for her comments in a notice posted on the Conservative party's website, but as Canadian Press pointed out today, it did not amount to an apology.
"It was never my intention to offend anyone; rather my only goal was to reiterate my support for the historic definition of marriage. I regret that some have been offended by my remarks, because this was certainly not my intention.”
However her expression of regret does not necessarily indicate a change of heart.
"I have to say that I got re-elected in nine consecutive elections because of what I stood for," Wayne said in the House yesterday. "Everyone knows what I stand for. I will not change and they know that."
On June 2, 2003, The Halifax Herald reported, "Several MPs said that Saint John MP Elsie Wayne will be replaced as deputy House leader by Quebec MP Andre Bachand later in the week. "
The Petrified Forest - The Gag Reflex
Liberal John McKay, (representing Scarborough East) seemed to be regressing to the discredited view that Canada has remained static, locked into a constitution framed in an 1867 perspective.
"If the framers of our Constitution knew that the courts were about to open up this constitutional word called marriage and eliminate its gender requirements, I am sure they may well have thought that we had all taken leave of our senses and probably would have retired to the parliamentary restaurant over a few drinks and a couple of laughs," McKay said.
In fact, Canada's Constitution has always been "a living tree", rather than McKay's petrified forest. The principle was set out in the famous Persons Case, when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council found that the word "persons" in the British North America Act was intended to include female persons, thus making it possible for women to be appointed to the Canadian Senate, despite the views of people who shared Mr. McKay's view of the Constitution.
Canada has moved on, and with it our rights and freedoms have evolved to. So must church and state if they are to be relevant.
"The religious communities are having a collective gag reaction," McKay said, as "decision after decision goes against them".
But nothing is being forced on religious communities. Instead, the courts are protecting Canadians from having the dogma of these communities forced on citizens. The courts are protecting the separation of church and state, and the church doesn't like this. They wish to have private beliefs become public policy, through compliant agents like Mr. McKay.
"Is Parliament still supreme?" McKay asks.
No, not when it violates the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Thank God we have a Charter to protect us from such excesses and abuse, unless Parliament chooses to declare gays and lesbians ineligible for these protections using the notwithstanding clause - something the Liberal party will not do, to the dismay of those who live in the petrified forest, presumably gagging on wood.