"Our side is bubbling over by now because we know that, for us it is over, Goldwater and Dube have laid out a solid argument with enough proof ..."
-Michael Hendricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parliament does this kind of social engineering, not the courts. Besides there are elections and if you do not like what the members of Parliament to you can change them!"
-Attorney General of Canada (AGC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not discrimination, it is a reflection of something elsewhere.
-Attorney General of Quebec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldwater says we impose our beliefs on others. No, her clients are doing that!
-Lawyer for Evangelical Protestants and Catholics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe the Jews will leave but the real problem is freedom of religion.
-Lawyer for Evangelical Protestants and Catholics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"At this point, I am reeling in my chair. Me. Goldwater passes me a note asking what is Noel up to? I respond, 'Playing the loose cannon, I think."
-Michael Hendricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, society and the community have evolved to change its view on this question.
-Lawyer for Coalition for recognition of gays and lesbians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I felt like I had been hit by a bolt of lightening. So that was it!"
-Michael Hendricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In their own words / Dans leurs propres mots

Quebec Day Seven - November 16, 2001

Completely fried, dragging our feet, René and I arrive at the Courthouse at 9h05 for last day of hearings. With luck, the final session will be over by noon. Surprise, Me Goldwater is already in the courtroom, bubbling over with energy, ready to go.

The last session is not very well attended, only 4 people. Claude #1, who has been here everyday (the other person who made 6 out of 7 days is also named Claude, Claude #2), comes up to me and says: "Bette Midler (Me Goldwater) nailed them with her document on the meaning of civil marriage. I laughed all night." Reassuring as it is that others are announcing our victory, René and I are not the kind to be sure of anything.

The day starts with Bobbsie Twin #1 going up to the bar and saying his presentation will be short (like "finally" this word seems to mean nothing to lawyers). Our side is bubbling over by now because we know that, for us it is over, Goldwater and Dubé have laid out a solid argument with enough proof and we have the basis for an appeal. Our joviality is met with frozen stares from the Drones.

We settle down as Bobbsie tell us that he and Me Goldwater have "agreed to disagree". The AGC's thesis is that there are values to be protected here. Me G asks what values. The institution of marriage represents something for certain. This court is not an Inquisition (strange choice of word, I think) and no one has to declare how he/she feels on this issue. But there are at least four Supreme Court judges who agree with us. And the others respect values. Me Saint-Pierre explained it well: to believe in marriage is not homophobia (not exactly what Noël said, but . . .). Times have changed and the Supreme Court has separated the "saftey net" from marriage and offered it to others but it still recognises the institution. The federal government has acted on the decisions of the SC and even went further; law C-23 goes beyond the ruling in M vs H. Except for the bankruptcy act and immigration, same sex couples are recognised, the "saftey net" for married couples has been modified to include them (lists them off: some of this is not true!)

Parliament has balanced divergent interests and there are many ways of doing this. Parliament does this kind of "social engineering", not the courts. Besides, there are elections and if you do not like what the members of Parliament do, you can change them!

Judge: Not judges! (laughter from all sides, the judge is laughing too)

Bobbsie: C-23 was presented originally without section 1,1. The debates convinced the government to add section 1,1 as a reminder of what their intention was, their motivation. It was a compromise.

Judge: Section 1,1 appears to be a guide for interpretation but how does it effect the law? As far as I can see, if effects nothing.

Bobbsie: There is no other reason than a reminder, a way to interpret the whole text, an answer to those who thought C-23 could be misinterpreted. Lots of people, including judges, thought marriage and its effects could not be separated but C-23 is the proof that they can be.

Bobbsie then began to read to the judge the Parliamentary debate around C-23. Stopping the reading, he said there was also much consultation and a registry for same-sex couples was suggested. However, the Coalition objected on the grounds that they wanted to preserve confidentiality. In fact, Me Saint-Pierre represents this pole of thought.

Judge: Section 1,1 is strange. To what does it apply?

Bobbsie: It proves that the majority wanted to be clear about marriage when making this change. In Québec, the same thing was accomplished with the Harmonisation Act, section 5.

Judge: We received a text on the Harmonisation Act that tells us that section 5 supports clause 365.

Bobbsie: The importance is the context, the debate. The burden is to recognise values and conciliation.

Bobbsie: I would like to comment on the Canadian Bar Review article that you mentioned. I question the author in his use of sources: Ann Robinson and Wintamute were banned from this trial and here he talks about these "proofs". Moreover, our point of view is not there. It is this a coincidence? Drôle! We do not need those affidavits, it is all there in values. I give the author a low mark for his analysis.

In ending, I would like to thank you for your patience.

Judge: It was easy. You are good lawyers and the subject is interesting.

Bellow (AGQ) then stepped up for his 90 minutes.

Bellow starts by saying he does not have much to say. (Thank god)

The Harmonisation Act means integration of civil law with Canadian law. The norm for marriage is federal and we see the reflection of clause 365 in section 5. This is not discrimination, it is a reflection of something elsewhere. If there are questions about the validity of separation of effects of marriage from marriage, see M vs H. It is all there.

As for your decision: in M vs H, the decision was suspended for 6 months. In this case, 1 year would be better.

Bobbsie #1 jumps in and agrees that a year is needed.

Also, a copy of the "avant projet de loi" (Québec's civil union proposal) will be sent to the media soon and you will see it. It will be pertinent for your decision.

Noël stands up: If it goes to the judge, the parties should have a copy for written comments.

Bellow: The object is not to debate this here. We can not modify clause 365, marriage is not our jurisdiction. We do not have to create a debate.

Me Goldwater: The judge said it was important not to get information by other sources. If it is not here before us, it is not pertinent. If it is, then we should be able to criticise it. Is this your "solution de rechange"? If so, let's see it. All that said, you can not leave it nebulous like that.

Judge: I understand your pre-occupation. I have a specific question before me. If you say that clause 365 is not to be changed, this is to be challenged. This (projet de loi) will not respond to the motion before me. That is the question is asked. So what if another form is proposed?

Bobbsie (trying to regain control): It could be another possible solution.

Judge: I should be able to answer the question of discrimination. So what if someone builds another golf course?

Noël (joking): We will have to re-do this trial once again in 6 months or a year!

The Wrapper steps up to the bar. (Wrap has been keeping low all morning and this is the first time I see him well. There was a surfer film in the 60s called "The Perfect Wave" where a handsome boy with a board went from beach to beach looking for the perfect surf. Today, the Wrapper's "cover up" for his bald spot has managed to configure itself into a small model of the dream wave, with the cusp and the tunnel---impeccable.)

Wrapper then repeats everything he said Wednesday but in a shorter version. There is little new here but I will note what was new.

Marriage is a beneficial institution that has served society well (blah, blah). What is proposed here could be heavy with consequences (blah, blah). There is a difference in dimension between abortion and marriage (Me G had brought up the similarity for right wing religious people and the judge also had mentioned this). Abortion was decriminalisation while here we are trying to impose on society, and on believers, a new institution that is fundamentally contrary to faith.

Me. G says over and over that we are in a secular society. No, we live in a society that is open, that guarantees faith. Goldwater says we impose our beliefs on others. No, her clients are doing that! They say the basis of marriage is love (or sex) but this is opposed to the basis of marriage. If this court says yes to them, that will be an attack on the freedom of religion (Wrapper just guaranteed himself a spot in the Appeal).

Yesterday, Goldwater read to us about the solemnisation of civil marriage. I read that text last night and there are not two marriages in Québec! Civil marriage is an enlargement of the true institution, not a new institution. There is only 1 marriage in Québec. If you give them what they want, then there will be 1 marriage but it will be fundamentally different.

Me G's clients are imposing not their homosexuality on others but their ideology.

Me Saint-Pierre says his clients want choice. If you grant it, then you take away a choice from my clients.

(Judge is not looking too happy at this point.)

Wrapper: Read Rabbi Novak. Maybe the Jews will leave but the real problem is freedom of religion. When Saint-Pierre says there were no riots after the laïcisation of the school, that is because it was not an attack on freedom of religion and "no riots" is not an acceptable answer.

Wrapper goes on to present himself as the saviour of a society that is on its way to hell if homos get to marry, etc. Then he attacks Noël's evidence on the laicisation of schools and what not. With that, Rapper wrapped up.

Judge: I did not like the testimony you presented concerning Jews moving away because of a change in marriage. We would need proof from demographers, not conjecture or opinion. Certain accusations in your affidavits distance themselves from tolerance and this does not help the intelligence of your argument.

Noël went to the bar to finish the trial.

Starting off, Noël presented the judge and the other lawyers with an article by a Professor from Queen's University, Nick Bala and then reads from Bala's testimony somewhere (at Parliament, I think). Bala says that C-23 addresses the legal challenge of M vs H but does not recognise the need for a kind of marriage for same-sex couples, like Vermont's civil union.

Noël goes on about how this is a lame solution, not in federal jurisdiction, if not marriage, what then? He explains the difference between registered domestic partnerships (RDPs) and marriage and then says that there is maybe another possibility, maybe a register for couples with no children or a PACS (the French RDP) which is open to heterosexuals. The point that Bala is making, says Noël, is that Parliament has to take its responsibilities.

NB: At this point, I have to go to the toilette, so a part of the discussion is missing. Sorry!)

When I get to my seat, Noël is saying that C-23 had nothing to do with marriage, section 1,1 was simply added to assure certain deputies.

Then Noël is off again: In 1993, at the Human Rights Commission's hearings, I was against marriage as it was not the need at the time (there were more pressing needs). I proposed a register to resolve this problem at that time, as a way of responding to the people calling for same-sex marriage (mostly Ann Robinson in 1993).

Since then, my work with women immigrants has taught me about the importance of marriage. Today, society and the community have evolved to change its view on this question. Essentially, there is an institution that exists, the effects are clear. The best way to resolve our problems is that one. PACS do not work for homosexuals, etc, etc., etc.

In terminating, Noël says:

What is the proof that was made showing that section 1,1 balances values? Everyone says that C-23 has nothing to do with marriage, so what is section 1,1 doing there? That is to say that the rights of gays and lesbians are as weighty as something that was never proven.

Judge: Thank you all, the debate between the parties was very sincere.

Me G jumps up and says that she has marked pertinent parts of the Parliamentary debate over C-23 and would her Ladyship like to have those now?

Judge: You just want to have the last word? (she laughs). Me G laughs, nods her head, and says she will send them by letter, with copies to the others.

There were four journalists waiting for us as we left the courtroom and so we "gave head" for the last time. Me Dubé was full of energy and spoke willingly and at length with Le Devoir (rare for Me Dubé) while Me Goldwater did the student papers.

As we were entering the elevator, Me Dubé said to me: "What was the point of the federal government's year long delay so they could do research and gather affidavits and proofs from "experts" except to have time to pass the Harmonisation Act?" I felt like I had been hit by a bolt of lightening. So that was it! What kind of people are we dealing with ?

As we stood in the parking lot, having packed Goldwater, Dubé's 4 suitcases full of documents into the car, I suddenly realised what a racing greyhound feels like when the mechanical rabbit disappears at the end of the race. We said our good-byes, gave lots of cheek kisses, and René and I trudged off home to a bowl of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.

"Soyons réalistes, exigeons l'impossible." /
" Be reasonable, demand the impossible "
Che Guevara

M. H and R L in Montréal.


Read Michael and René's account of day 6