Gay marriages (SSM) in Canada
Part 5: 2016: The Conservative
of Canada modifies
with same-sex marriage:
The following essay is a continuation from Part 4
2016-JAN-26: The Conservative Party of Alberta proposed the removal of two anti-gay marriage clauses in the National party platform: 1
Marriage equality came to Canada in mid-2005 when a federal marriage bill was passed by Parliament and signed into law.
About ten and a half years later, during the week of 2016-JAN-17, a conservative pro-equality group called LGBTory wrote to interim Conservative party leader, Rona Ambrose. They asked for help in modifying the Conservative Party of Canada's existing policy on gay marriage. They said that the policy is offensive and risks alienating voters.
During the weekend of JAN-23, at a meeting of Conservative Party members from Alberta, electoral district associations from Edmonton and Fort McMurray, AB, also proposed to seek changes in the existing marriage policy. The current policy states that:
- Marriage should be defined by Parliament, and not by the courts.
- Marriage should be restricted to a union of one woman and one man.
The Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Association introduced a resolution asking that two lines in the party platform be deleted. They noted that, on matters related to marriage:
"Individual members of Parliament should be empowered to vote with their conscience in consultation with their constituents without having them biased one way or the other by their party policy declaration."
Thus, they suggest that it makes no sense for the Party to have a specific policy on marriage.
Michelle Rempel, the Member of Parliament (MP) from Calgary - Nose Hill, AB said:
"It’s a very positive thing and something that’s been very positively accepted. ... There is a quite a bit of interest in this particular resolution and I’d anticipate other riding associations across the country will try to submit similar resolutions or support one single one going to the floor." 1
The next opportunity to change the party platform will be at the Canada-wide meeting of the party in May.
2016-MAY-28: Conservative Party removes anti-LGBT marriage policy from their party platform:
Delegates from across Canada came to the Conservative Party of Canada's policy convention in Vancouver, BC.
In a lopsided vote, 1036 to 462, delegates from all provinces except Saskatchewan decided to delete the two statements on marriage policy from their platform.
MP Michelle Rempel said:
"I think our party got a little more Canadian today. It's a milestone and it's not just a milestone for our party, it's a milestone for all Canadians.
Yes, it took us 10 years to get to this point, but I think this is something that is a beacon for people around the world who are looking at equality rights. Canada is a place where we celebrate equality." 2
Eric Lorenzen, a delegate from an Eastern Ontario riding, is openly gay. He was troubled by his Party's earlier stance that his partnership with another man was not valued. He said:
"What other group does our party have a negative policy towards? A policy of restricting civil rights and restricting full participation in society?"
In the future, the Party will take a neutral position towards gay marriages and marriage equality. 2
Maxime Bernier, a Quebec MP and former cabinet minister, said:
"It's all about freedom and respect. It's about us and it's about telling Canadians that you can love who you want and that you can be loved... and having fair policies at the federal level for that. ... I'm proud of you to have this debate here with you."
Goldie Ghamari is seeking a nomination from Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in an Ottawa riding. She said that marriage:
"... is a fundamental human right and government does not have a place in your bedroom."
Manitoba MP Ted Falk defended the existing platform. He said:
"This resolution is not about inclusiveness or the value of individuals. This motion is an attack on our values and principles."
Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs voted in favor of abandoning the anti-LGBT statements in the platform. She concluded that many people were ready to move on.
Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost was disappointed at the vote. He said:
"It was a line in the sand. With that line, other things wouldn't be crossed. I don't see the need to change."
"I didn't get into politics just to vote for the lowest common denominator. I believe in things."
Ontario MP Erin O'Toole expected the resolution to pass. He said:
"We're tackling tough issues — whether it's euthanasia, same-sex marriage — and doing it quite respectfully. We're having passionate debate and then at the end of the day we're having a beer together. ... [The Conservative Party is a] 'brokerage party,' [where no member expects to have all of his or her positions reflected.] I don't anticipate anyone leaving."
Former cabinet minister, Steven Blaney, apparently relying on polling data, said that Canadians have spoken and it was time to move on.
Jason Kenney, who may be a candidate for the leadership of the national party, said:
"I haven't met anybody who is passionate about keeping an obsolete policy on the books that no longer reflects law or social custom."
Still, some disaffected Conservatives may leave the party and vote for the Christian Heritage Party. They are a minority party formed in 1988 that has not been able to elect a Member of Parliament in any election to date. They are composed largely of Dutch Reformed Christians who take a very conservative approach to the LGBT community.
Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, poked fun at the Conservative Party. He said:
"Better late than never. Who knows … 10 years from now, they might finally be willing to admit that climate change is real. Or that tax cuts for rich people don't help the middle class. Or that government shouldn't legislate what women can wear on their heads." 2
Responses from the public:
2,856 readers of the article on the CBC web site posted comments! 2 A few examples are:
- Kevin Graves posted:
"This is a wedge issue that conservatives love. The fact that they even have to debate this, is a glaring example of why this party will not be ready to govern for at least a decade."
- "bigmouthfrog" posted:
"Well, at least they've finally realized that it's the 21st century."
- "Snowy Owl" posted:
"Religion in politics is the 'Conservative' fundamentalists aim to make citizens conform to religious dogma regardless of Constitutional rights that insist on a secular government that enshrines the rights of the individual as long as they do NOT INFRINGE ON OTHER CITIZENS."
There were no positive comments towards the Conservative Party in the first five pages of postings, so I gave up trying to find one to show here.
"SSM" means "same-sex marriage"
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Stephanie Levitz, "Alberta Tories back removal of same-sex ban from party platform," The Toronto Star, 2016-JAN-26, at: https://www.thestar.com/
- Janyce McGregor, " 'Freedom and respect': Conservatives strike marriage definition from party policy," CBC News, 2016-MAY-28
Copyright 2016 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2016-JUL-20.
Author: B.A. Robinson.