Brent St. Denis (Algoma Manitoulin Kapuskasing, Lib.):
courts in eight of the provinces and territories have come to
the conclusion that to deny access to a civil marriage for same
sex couples is contrary to the intent and spirit of the Charter
of Rights. It is incumbent upon the Parliament of Canada to avoid
balkanization of laws with respect to the definition of marriage
and to act so from sea to sea to sea there is a consistency of
definition. The courts are not deciding for us. They have helped
us in this case and other cases in interpreting the Charter of
Rights. It is now for us to respond appropriately, and the government
through Bill C-38 is doing that."
Speaker, I rise today on a matter of great concern to me and,
I would say, to all members of the House. Flyers have been mailed
out across Canada to a variety of different members' ridings stating
that members are against families or are trying to destroy marriage.
Even though I think that position is intolerant, I do respect
the opinion. However, what I do not respect is tens of thousands
of dollars being spent anonymously with absolutely no way to contact
this organization. My office has been contacted by hundreds of
residents who are extremely upset. Maybe this is acceptable to
the opposition but I would like to know who is behind it. We do
not know who is behind it. Is there foreign money? Is there a
political party behind it? These are the questions we have to
ask. To have anonymous money being spent in this way from a post
office in a 7-Eleven in Toronto is absolutely unacceptable."
Mr. Mark Holland (Ajax—Pickering, Lib.), House of Commons, March
Legal - Canada - MPs
speak of courage, conscience and duty
April 3, 2005
speak of courage, conscience and duty
Members of Parliament ready for next milestone
debate over The Civil Marriage Act (Bill C-38) continued in Parliament's
House of Commons on March 24, with a final day of debate before
parliamentary recess. Members of Parliament are restricted to comments
lasting no longer than ten minutes. This debate marked the end of
the first reading of the bill.
will show its will on April 12 when it is expected to vote against
a Conservative Party amendment that would resurrect discrimination
against gays and lesbians.
Parliament will approve the bill in principle and send it to the
Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness. There could then be a report (from the committee)
stage vote in the Commons and then third reading debate and a vote
on the final version of the bill. The bill will then go to the Senate
for its consideration and approval.
on April 12
Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.):
Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Conversations have occurred
among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent
for the following motion. I move:
at any time, on or before April 11, when second reading of Bill
C-38 is under consideration, when no member rises to speak on the
amendment, or subamendment, all questions necessary to dispose of
the said amendment to second reading of Bill C-38 be deemed put,
a recorded division requested and deferred until the end of government
orders on Tuesday, April 12.
the House give unanimous consent for the whip to put the motion?
House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the
House to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to)
following extracts from the
March 24 debate demonstrate why the bill will be passed.
Catholic Church and conscience
some media stories, reporting my position on the bill, it has been stated
that I would be voting in favour despite my personal Roman Catholic beliefs.
I believe same sex marriage for civil society is a justice issue, but
I want it clarified that I believe this is so because of my personal Roman
Catholic convictions, not in spite of them.
have not dissociated myself from the church. I cannot because it is that
same church, whose leadership disagrees with me today, that inspires me
to say this. It is the right thing to do. It was the spirit of Vatican
II that challenged me to inform my conscience and that informed conscience
says that we must reach out to Bill, Scott, Libby and Réal and all members
of the gay and lesbian community and say that they are as whole and as
wholesome as all humanity and worthy of all the gifts life has to offer,
particularly the gift to love and to be loved and to be creators and co-creators
of life in all its forms. They know this already. Their communities know
this. It is time that the law proclaims this reality.
respect my church. I respect it and I love it enough to be able to tell
its leaders when I think they are wrong. I know there are other good and
faithful Catholics who think the same. I have done everything asked of
me by my faith in giving great weight to its teaching, reflected on my
lived experience, prayed and thus informed my conscience. I believe, as
my church expects, that I am being morally coherent and not separating
my spiritual life and my political life."
Tony Martin (Sault Ste. Marie, NDP)
proud moment in our history
we are here, a very proud moment in our history, taking one more
step of ensuring that we permit and encourage those in same sex
relationships, if they so choose, to express that in the institution
of marriage. How can we resist that cry, that call, that fundamental
issue of justice and equality? I am here today to simply say this
is something we must do from the point of view of recognition of
marriage as a union of two people committed to one another, wanting
to be in a loving relationship, to share their lives. That is what
they are saying. How can we say no to that?
are also here because we know that the overriding issue is equality.
It is not how we in our individual social traditions view marriage.
This is an important battle for everyone facing less than equal
status in our society today. It is an important battle for minorities
of whatever type. We are all in some respect in a minority position.
rock, the foundation of our justice system has been our legal right
to be treated equally. It has taken us a long time to approach that
ideal. This issue is yet one more step toward making that ideal
a reality. That national commitment to equality across all boundaries
and divisions in our society is the core of the tolerance and social
peace that makes Canada the envy of the world. It cannot be compromised."
Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP)
the old common law definition of marriage is not only about acknowledging
how our society has evolved over the last 139 years, but also reflects
the fundamental Canadian values of fairness, equality and non-discrimination.
As the Prime Minister has noted, this legislation is about the kind
of nation we are today and the kind of nation we want to be.
know and I believe, as the Prime Minister said, that there are times
when we as parliamentarians can feel the gaze of history upon us.
They felt it in the days of Pearson; they felt it in the days of
Trudeau. We, the 308 men and women elected to represent one of the
most inclusive, just and respectful countries on the face of the
earth, feel it today.
feel privileged to have the honour to be part of this momentous
period of Canadian history which confirms our charter and our values
as a Canadian society. I know that my decision to uphold the charter
and minority rights is the right decision."
Sarmite Bulte (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian
moves gays out from margins
if this House has heard some speeches, arguments and heartfelt personal
opinions, both for and against same sex marriage, we have very little
factual information on this subject, and there is a reason for that. Until
very recently, our society marginalized same sex partners to such an extent
that they often lived secret and almost invisible lives. That does not
mean that they did not exist in Canada and elsewhere.
and lesbians, and same sex couples are an integral party of our history,
but since they were not socially accepted, particularly from the Victorian
era on, an atmosphere was created that was so hostile as to force many
gays and lesbians to keep a very low profile. Fortunately, society's attitudes
toward gays and lesbians are changing, here in Canada especially. What
is more, many Canadian gays and lesbians are of such strong character
that they are prepared to acknowledge their sexual orientation publicly."
Marlene Jennings (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada—U.S.),
courage and political duty
bill calls upon us, deeply and forcefully, to remember that as legislators
we must promote and protect fundamental rights. As a result, whenever
some people are found to enjoy fewer rights than others because of prejudice
against their ethnic origins, social status, moral and religious convictions
or sexual orientation, then it is our duty to pass laws that guarantee
them access to the same rights as others. It is a duty laid upon this
Parliament to work to make our country's laws consistent. In this way,
our fellow citizens would be justified in doubting the relevance of our
role if they found that, while we espouse attachment to fundamental rights,
we retreat when it comes time to adopt legislation to formally guarantee
these same rights. Such inconsistency distances us from the sense of honour
and the moral and political courage that the voters expect of us, no matter
how diverse their opinions on this and other issues.
If, in Canada, we enjoy a level of freedom envied the world over, it is
because we have been able to reach a social consensus around the idea
that the guarantee of individual freedoms is based on respect for those
of others. Consequently, my freedoms and rights cannot be protected if
I use them to deny the freedoms and rights of others. Rights exist and
are extended to all or none. Consequently, we cannot allow one group of
individuals to be denied rights enjoyed by their fellow citizens. As soon
as we identify such a denial, we have the responsibility as legislators
to resolutely and courageously remedy it.
I want to speak in my capacity as a doctor. This profession has
taught me a great deal about human suffering and distress. I am
happy to say that it has taught me to be constantly aware of people's
general well-being, which enriches my political commitment. As a
result, I have been able to see that a number of the health problems
many experience arise from profound distress and suffering, often
the result of being rejected because of prejudices about their innermost
and inalienable identity. Too often in our society this is so hurtful
that it drives some, an alarming number of our young people in particular,
to suicide because they feel they are being held in contempt, ostracized
and harassed for the simple reason that they were born with a sexual
orientation that differs from that of the majority. Each such case
is another human tragedy, a tragedy that casts a shadow on our own
dignity, as it is a sign that we are still not capable of rising
to the level of human values that would allow every individual to
feel accepted and recognized just as they are. That is why I invite
each of us to examine his or her conscience.
Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC) and a cry for conformity:
male friend of mine whom I have known most of my life, a successful
businessman, a strong supporter of community activities, a husband,
a father, grandfather, and devout Christian, phoned to say he would
like to stop in at our home with some thoughts on how to stop the
Liberals from changing the traditional definition of marriage. He
came over and we discussed possible scenarios that could be used
to improve the legislation or defeat it.
his comments, he paused for a moment, a tear came to his eye, and
he started to relate how his family was being tormented by this
issue. One of his children had decided to support same sex marriage
and he was struggling to understand why. He broke down and was unable
to continue. He could not understand why the Prime Minister and
the Liberal government were doing this to his family.
along with most Canadians, feels very strongly that the definition
of marriage should be the union of one man and one woman, but he
holds no animosity toward same sex couples."
we allow such suffering to continue? Must we continue to tolerate people
being so wounded, fatally even, by hatred and prejudice? Is it fair for
some people to have rights, while others are denied those rights? Are
we doing everything in our power to make our society more welcoming of
those who suffer the consequences of exclusion? It is up to each and every
one of us to reflect on this very seriously, and to be aware of the consequences
of the important responsibility we have for one category of citizens of
our county, for their very lives even."
Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.)
for the trailblazers
want to use the last moment to express my appreciation for those who have
been the trailblazers in putting themselves on the front lines of this
battle at a time when it was not easy for people to declare publicly that
they were not only gay or lesbian but that they were going to participate
in the struggle to ensure that all gays and lesbians in Canada enjoyed
the same rights as all other people in Canada.
think we owe them a special vote of thanks. We owe our heartfelt appreciation.
However, we also understand that they fought the battle, not just for
their own benefit but because they know that gays and lesbians in our
society would enjoy the benefits of equal treatment and that the whole
of society would benefit from our being a more tolerant, more inclusive
society that can be proud of the fact that we have extended equal marriage
to all of our citizens."
Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)
language of minority rights
am a member of the franco-Ontarian linguistic minority. If we can successfully
make the argument to set aside the charter on the issue of civil marriage
because it is a moral rather than a legal question then, in the case of
minority language rights, we could suggest dropping official languages
policies in this country because they are too expensive. It is a question
of savings. That is the risk.
believe it is very important always to defend the charter since it is
there to defend everyone in our society. That is the issue.
of the reasons I ran for Parliament was that I could see the challenges
to the charter coming. During the vote on the opposition day motion in
1999, I was one of the 55 members of Parliament who voted against the
preservation of the traditional definition of marriage. I saw it then
and I see it now as an attack on the charter. For those reasons I am pleased
to say that I will be supporting Bill C-38."
Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.)
the nature of civil society
In my view, we are not just debating civil marriage. We are helping to
determine the nature of civil society, because how this issue is resolved
will have an important impact on the place of the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms in Canadian life. The charter is a reflection of the commitment
that all Canadians made to each other, a commitment built over many generations.
It is a clear statement of Canadian values shaped over this country's
history. Hopefully there are fewer and fewer opportunities in the life
of a nation when people must stand up for issues of basic human rights.
charter is there to ensure that minorities, the weakest in our society,
are protected. Extending rights to others in no way takes rights
away from anyone. When the majority can decide for the minority
without regard to the charter, it creates a dangerous situation.
If the decision is made to use the notwithstanding clause, which
is the only way to change the law in those eight jurisdictions,
it sets a dangerous precedent which allows for a slippery slope.
It could then be used by the majority whenever it wanted to suspend
what is right and just, whenever the majority decided it was expedient.
All minorities in our country would become vulnerable.
bill does not take anything away from anyone. Rights do not become
less precious when they are shared. The bill ensures that all Canadians
receive the rights they deserve from a nation that is respectful,
tolerant and compassionate. It ensures that we treat all Canadians
as we want to be treated, as we would want our children to be treated.
Perhaps that is the best way to look at it.
how we would react if it were one of our children seeking respect
for their rights. If one of my four children came home one day and
said to me, “Daddy, I am gay”, I would want to look him or her in
the eye and say, “I love you and support you without reservation
and will do everything I can to make sure that you are accepted
as an equal member of our society”. I would want my children to
know that I took the opportunity on the day that I could be counted,
in the highest institution of the land, to stand up for our Charter
of Rights and Freedoms.
is a group that nobody has talked very much about except to say
that marriage is about children. Indeed, marriage is about children.
I am here to tell the House that today we know that gays and lesbians
can have children because of artificial insemination. I have delivered
lesbian women who became pregnant, went to full term and delivered
a baby just like a heterosexual woman. We know that heterosexual
couples use the same technology to have children if they are unable
to have children otherwise.
am saying that by denying same sex couples with children access
to marriage, we are creating a second class of children in this
country. We have done away with the old days when we had illegal
children, bastard children who had no rights. What we are now creating
is another group of children. The children of a same sex couple
will not be equal under the law to the children of a heterosexual
couple because their parents cannot get married even though both
couples used the same reproductive technology in order to have those
children. I am just saying that it is about fairness and it is about
equality under the law."
Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship
and Immigration, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, that today you may be part of the majority, but one day you
too might be part of the minority. It is very important that we protect
all in our society. In voting for Bill C-38 I will be voting to ensure
the charter's place for all Canadians."
Tony Ianno (Minister of State (Families and Caregivers), Lib.)