Legal - Canada - Rights, dignity, liberty and choice
February 22, 2005
dignity, liberty and choice
"I listened to the minister of defence and the questions and comments that came later and I must say that to me this bill is not about some notion of tolerance. I actually do not even like that word; that we somehow tolerate other people who we see as different from ourselves. There is a sense of judgment in that, in saying that we will tolerate someone on the basis of their beliefs. To me, this bill and this debate are about rights. This is about dignity. This is about individual liberties and individual choice ...
"In terms of my own position, I do want to say that I do not see this as a debate about tolerance, as I said, or about destroying tradition or undermining other people's rights. In fact, what I believe is that one can actually be against same sex marriage and vote for the bill. I believe that is possible, because to me what this bill is about is our duty and responsibility as members of Parliament to uphold people's rights and choices.
"I do not believe it is up to me as a member of Parliament to say to another couple that they have no right to get married. I think it is very possible that one can be opposed to same sex marriage for religious reasons, cultural reasons or personal reasons, whatever they might be, it does not matter. That choice is not taken away from those members, but I see a distinction between that and what our roles and responsibilities are as members of Parliament.
No Free Vote
"Mr. Speaker, I feel very comfortable with the decision our leader has made, that this is not “a free vote” for the NDP. We have a party policy. The highest order of our party is a party convention. It was at a convention that our members democratically voted on a resolution overwhelmingly supporting same sex marriage. Therefore, when we run for the NDP, we do so on the basis of supporting our party policy and party platform. That is number one.
"Second, we do not see this as a matter of conscience. We see it as a matter of being a member in this place, being willing and accepting our responsibility to uphold the rights of people. That is why I say we can be opposed to same sex marriage but still vote for the bill. I do not see that as a contradiction at all. I feel proud of the fact that our [NDP] leader has had the courage to stand up and say, because this is an issue of rights, we will not vote against those rights. He said to every one of us that we would be [expected to] vote for the bill. That message also came from the membership of our party, so he has done the right thing.
"The Conservative Party did it differently. I happen to disagree with that. I think it is a cop-out. I particularly feel that way with the Liberals. The Prime Minister said to Canadian to vote for him on the basis of equality, then he said to his own members that they would have a free vote. I do not like that and I do not think it is a good situation."
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP), House of Commons, Feb. 21, 2005