Paul Martin's Ottawa office:
Phone: 613.992.4284
Fax: 613.992.4291

Paul Martin's Montreal Constituency office:
Phone: 514.363-0954
Fax: 514.367.5533


A reference for same-sex marriage: legislation review by the Supreme Court of Canada





Waffling on marriage - Martin's Muddle


Un communiqué de presse par le Bloc Québécois (le 19 aout 2003)


As a result of Martin's waffling, he has left an impression that Parliament has viable options, other than equal marriage for same-sex couples. It does not.



SELECT to Listen to "Liberal Leadership & Same-Sex Marriages" from CBC Radio One's  The Current (host Jim Brown)
Listen to a recording of this program



"Why get rid of marriage solely to make sure gays and lesbians can't take part?"
Editorial, Globe and Mail, Aug. 19, 2003



Irwin Cotler: Canada's new Minister of Justice.  Friend or foe of same-sex marriage?



"This is clearly an issue where compromise is impossible."
Editorial, Fort McMurray Today, Aug. 19, 2003



Please join us in a letter writing campaign to demand our rights from politicians - Click here to learn more



Liberals for Layton - Dennis Mills betrays Liberal values by not supporting same-sex marriage.



Gay marriage - remove nasty bigots.  Gets Liberals clean!



"As a society, we believe in equality - equal despite differences in race, language or sexual orientation ... Gays and lesbians in Canada have long-term relationships. They belong to our families, and, in some cases, raise children. They contribute to our communities and pay taxes. This Government believes that they should also have access to marriage. Anything less is discrimination ... I believe that supporters of equality must also speak out ... It is simply a question of equality, human dignity and respect for all."
Martin Cauchon, Justice Minister, address to the Canadian Bar Association, Aug. 18, 2003



Equality Scorecard - tracking the Parliamentary vote for same-sex marriage



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Advocacy News

December 11, 2003

Prodding Paul Martin

Paul Martin (Liberal Party) will become Canada's next Prime Minister on Dec. 12. The peek-a-boo politician has been coy regarding how his leadership will impact the roll-out of equal marriage across the rest of Canada.

On June 17, Martin's predecessor, Jean Chretien (Liberal Party), told the nation that the government intended to introduce legislation that would open marriage to gays and lesbians in the remaining half of the country where discrimination still exists (only Ontario and British Columbia currently honour the right of marriage for all couples). The government sent the proposed legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure alignment with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But Martin, facing an upcoming election, has been hiding from this issue. He seems unable to muster the courage to say that his new government will do the right thing.

Martin is on record as saying that he supports the government's decision not to appeal the historic court decision allowing same-sex couples to marry. However, news reports (citing anonymous Liberal Members of Parliament) speculate that Paul Martin is considering expanding a Supreme Court Reference to ask the Court if he can choose an option other than giving same-sex couples access to marriage itself.

If a "civil union" question is added to the Reference, it would amount to an appeal of the Ontario, B.C. and Quebec decisions. It would signal that the government is prepared to reverse its decision by assigning second-class status to same-sex couples.

Paul Martin is on the record as saying that "separate but equal" is not an option. Our new prime minister should not begin his tenure by flip-flopping on basic equality for all Canadians. Nor should he continue the politicization of this human rights issue.

Please act now to let Paul Martin and your Liberal MP (if you have one) know that expanding the Reference is a bad idea. If you have contacted Paul Martin or your MP before, please do so again. We need to make sure that they hear us.

August 21, 2003

Waffling on marriage - Martin's Muddle

"How do we deal with the evolution of society's attitudes? How do we deal with the very legitimate views that are held on both sides of the issue? If you're going to build consensus, if you're going to find answers to these things, you don't do it by imposition."
Paul Martin, Montreal Gazette, Aug. 20, 2003

"It's one thing to be imprecise. It's another to be confusing, frankly, when you have a lot of MPs looking to you for direction."
Patrick Gossage, former press secretary to Pierre Trudeau, Canadian Press, Aug. 21, 2003

"Even if the bill is defeated, the law stands. That's the reality ... We don't act with elections in mind. We react to the problems we have."
Prime Minister Chrétien, Canadian Press, Aug. 21, 2003

SELECT to read "Martinizing Marriage - Canada's next PM wants the Supreme Court to do his job." (Illustration courtesy of Max Licht)For the longest time, Paul Martin, Canada's future prime minister, hid behind the Supreme Court of Canada, claiming that the decision regarding same-sex marriage belonged there. He is still unwilling to make a personal statement on the matter, one way or another.

"Paul Martin prefers to deflect and defer," Industry Minister Allan Rock has said, quoted today in Canadian Press.

As a result of Martin's waffling, he has left an impression that Parliament has viable options, other than equal marriage for same-sex couples. It does not.

Canadians have watched the sorry sight of Liberals squirming in an effort to wiggle out of compliance with the Canadian Charter. Anything, but deliver full equality to gays and lesbians, and this from the party that gave Canada its new constitution.

"This is a rather straightforward matter," said a lonely principled Mauril Bélanger, MP for Ottawa-Vanier. "It's a matter of human rights."

The country has been discussing this issue since our marriage sparked national debate in January 2001. Millions and millions of words have been printed, and endless headlines splashed across the front-pages of the country's newspapers far and wide. White papers have been produced and testimony heard across the country. Eventually leaders have to lead, as Prime Minister Chrétien and Justice Minister Cauchon have been doing, to their great credit, since June 17.

"This is not about weakening Parliament," Chrétien told his caucus on August 19. "It is not about weakening traditional religion. It is not about weakening the Canadian social fabric. In fact, it is about giving Parliament its rightful voice. It's about protecting religious traditions and rites. It is about giving force and effect to Canadian values; values of mutual respect, justice and equality ... I would rather see interpretations that guarantee rights than take away rights."

Doesn't that sound like a leader?

Paul Martin, however, continues to politicize the issue, refraining from actually doing anything. In the process of dithering, he prolongs the divisions and causes pain to those who are still waiting for their full rights, and gives false-hope to those who wish us to stay home and "shut-up".


One of the options Martin's people have been tossing around is the absurd idea of having a referendum to decide the issue. Yes, if Martin can't lead, why not let the majority of Canadians decide the rights for a minority group?

"To have a referendum to decide the fate of a minority, it's a problem. It's why we have constitutions to protect the minority, that's why we have charters of rights. If it is always the majority vote, who will defend the minorities?" Prime Minister Chrétien asked.

Civil Unions - Equality with a vengeance

The most odious "alternative" that Martin seems willing to entertain is the possibility that the Canadian government would abandon marriage completely, leaving the word's usage to churches where it would have no legal standing or recognition. The government would force all couples, gay or straight, to enter registered domestic partnerships instead. Civil marriage would no longer be possible.

"The reality is the Constitution," Prime Minister Chrétien reminded people yesterday, "and you have to change the Constitution to achieve that, to transfer the responsibility that is federal to the provincial governments in the Constitution will not be easy."

Damn near impossible, most would agree. And that's only if they think Canadians would let them get away with it, which we highly doubt. Civil marriage is very popular in Quebec, where there has been a huge move away from religious marriage, due to the population's anger with the abuses of the Catholic Church in that province.

This action would lead to gays and lesbians being blamed for destroying access to civil marriage. Martin claims he would consider closing the pool, rather than letting same-sex couples swim with everyone else. One can imagine the backlash.

Martin knows better

Paul Martin is playing politics. He knows, like most others, that there is only one solution. But he is waiting for the laggards to catch up with the reality of situation. The solution has been forced upon those that wish for a different reality, and Martin doesn't want to be the one to bring the news to the anti-gay Liberals that support him: a group of Alliance Party-like backbenchers that Liberal insiders call "The God Squad".

Then there are all the people in the general public who have been encouraged in the fight against marriage, people who have been solicited for funds by religious groups anxious to swell their coffers at the expense of gays and lesbians. Those people expect results for their money. Petitions have been signed, letters sent, phone calls made. How do you tell those people that their leaders have been selling snake oil?

"Some MPs said privately that engaging in the debate over civil unions will at least help the Liberals to shift public opinion," the Globe and Mail wrote on August 20. "Some said it is not the move to legalize same-sex marriage but the fact that it was done precipitously that annoyed them."

The perception of the imposition of rights would not be there in the first place if politicians acted more like Chrétien and less like Martin. If some Members of Parliament don't get it, no wonder some of the public still don't.

"I have learned over 40 years in public life that society evolves and that the concept of human rights evolves more quickly than some of us might have predicted," Prime Minister Chrétien said, "and sometimes even in ways that make some people uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, we have to live up to our responsibilities."

"The dissidents are therefore checkmated," wrote Jeffrey Simpson in his Globe and Mail column this week, "whatever they say in North Bay [site of the Liberal caucus meeting] or however they vote in Parliament. And when that sense of their predicament fully sinks in, as it apparently has not, their frustration at their helplessness will grow."

Martin ought to speak out strongly and quit pretending that he has any other choice. As leaders go, he has already shown a propensity to waffle when Canada needs someone with more backbone.

"I am not going to tell MPs what to do," Martin says, apparently still not wanting to step up to the responsibilities of leadership.

Same-sex marriage has proven to be a litmus test for the Liberal Party. It is revealing much more than a politician's respect for human rights. It's disappointing to find so many failing so broadly. Respect for politicians can only continue to suffer as a result, thanks to Martin's muddle.

We know we'll win, but in the process, there doesn't have to be so many losers, Martin among them.

Read a selection of comments from our mail.Link to our media coverage of related issues.