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Religious Tolerance logo


2005-FEB-19 to MAR-29

Parliamentary debate of Bill C-38 "Civil Marriage Act" continues

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Sponsored link.

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Earlier developments are described in another essay

In this essay, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage." "MP" means Member of Parliament.

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As of 2005-FEB-22, 87% of Canadians lived in a province or territory which has already made SSM available to same-sex couples as a result of court rulings. Another court challenge is expected in Alberta. If this authorizes SSM in that province, then only 3% of the Canadian population will be without access to SSM in their province or territory.

On 2005-FEB-16, debate on the C-38 bill began in Parliament. If passed, then the remaining 13% or 3% of the Canadian population will gain direct access to same-sex marriage

The government will hold a second reading vote in May. If it passes, the bill then goes to a committee for study. The government hopes that the bill will become law by the end of 2005-JUN. However the Liberal party is only holding onto control by a thread and a new election may be called at any time. If that happens, then all progress to date on C-38 will be nullified.

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bullet2005-FEB-18: Tom Wappell speaks against SSM in Parliament: Tom Wappell (Liberal-Scarborough Southwest) is a well-known opponent of SSM. He debated SSM in parliament, concluding that Bill C-38 is "...discriminatory, a sham, and a hoax on parliamentarians and Canadians." Some of his points:
bulletMarriage has always been a discriminatory institution. The government will not issue marriage licenses to certain persons, discriminating on the basis of:
bulletAge: a couple has to be above a certain age to marry.
bulletDisability: Those who are severely mentally disabled cannot marry.
bulletConsanguinity: Those who are too closely related cannot marry.
bulletReligion: The law prohibits a man to have more than one wife at a time -- an arrangement that is promoted by some Mormon denominations.
bulletSex: Couples of the same sex cannot marry.

He finds these criteria to be quite reasonable. He asked: "...why is it acceptable to remove discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but continue to permit and perpetuate in legislation and common law other forms of discrimination? Either we eliminate all forms of discrimination or we leave the current definition alone. It has worked for millennia. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

bulletIf marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, then polygamy is inevitable. He said: "Some say that raising polygamy is a red herring and has nothing whatsoever to do with this bill. That is utter legal nonsense." He referred to two instances where illegal sexual practices had become legal: court decisions which legalized SSM, and which declared laws against anal intercourse illegal.
bulletClause 3 of bill C-38 states: "It is recognized that officials of religious groups are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs." He suggests that this a hoax because the federal government has no jurisdiction in this area. 1
bullet2005-MAR-02: Membership of the Parliamentary SSM committee determined: According to Focus on the Family, Canada, the committee to study C-38 has been selected. It will consist of:
bulletFive Liberals: Franoise Boivin, Don Boudria, Paul Macklin, Anita Neville, and Michael Savage;
bulletFour Conservatives: Rona Ambrose, Gord Brown, Rob Moore, and Vic Toews);
bulletTwo Bloc Quebecois: Richard Marceau and Ral Mnard;
bulletOne New Democrat: Bill Siksay).

It will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Marcel Proulx, a Liberal MP. Vic Toews is the justice critic for the Conservative Party and has been outspoken in his opposition to SSM. Ral Mnard and Bill Siksay are both openly homosexual. 2

bullet2005-MAR-05: SSM given overwhelming support at Liberal convention: The Liberal Party of Canada held a convention in Ottawa, ON. One of the topics discussed by the delegates was SSM. According to the Toronto Star, "Over the weekend, the delegates overwhelmingly endorsed the Liberal's current legislation before Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage. Those who spoke against it in the debate on the convention floor were sometimes booed and heckled." A vote was taken on the delegate's confidence in the Prime Minister. He passed with an 88% approval rating. Demonstrators marched on MAR-06 on Parliament Hill, carrying signs like: "Defend Marriage," "Protect Marriage," "Natural Marriage: 1 man 1 woman," and "Children Churches Culture Canada! www.defendMARRIAGE.ca" 3
bullet 2005-MAR-05: Young Liberals of Canada continue their "It's the Charter, stupid" campaign: Unlike other North American political parties, the Liberal Party of Canada reserves about 30% of its delegate positions for youths at its conventions. More than 385 Young Liberals attended the convention on the weekend of 2005-MAR-05. They continued their campaign in support of SSM, called: "It's the Charter, stupid."  Their group has been supporting SSM for over a decade. When interviewed on a TV news program, Prime Minister Paul Martin said that he loved the first first three words "It's the Charter." But he was not happy with the last word: "Stupid." He refused to wear a button himself. 4

The "defendMARRIAGE" website, is a project of Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC). Both oppose SSM. They were not impressed by the buttons either. They identify "Martin loyalists in the Liberal Party," or "the Martin team" and not the Young Liberals of Canada, as being responsible for the campaign. They released a statement saying, in part:

"We are very surprised and saddened that Mr. Martin's supporters would choose to take the low road in this debate, labelling those who disagree with them as 'stupid'. We are especially troubled that they would do so with such pride."

"We acknowledge and respect the fact that some of our fellow Canadians, Mr. Martin included, don't share our view that marriage should not be redefined, however 66 per cent of Canadians do. Disagreeing with Mr. Martin does not make us stupid' and it is adolescent to say it does. Where is this country headed when the Prime Minister's team marginalizes and demonizes citizens who disagree with him?"

Apparently they are actually aware that it is the Young Liberals and not some nebulous "Martin team" who are responsible for the campaign and buttons. They provide a hyperlink at the end of their statement to the Young Liberal website, with the warning notice "beware of content." 5

bullet2005-MAR-07: Problems at Conservative Party policy convention: The Conservative Party of Canada will hold its policy convention on MAR-17 to 19. On MAR-07, they released a preliminary list of approved resolutions to be debated and voted upon. The split between moderates and conservatives within the party surfaced over resolutions P-90 to P-95. P-90 says that MPs will be able to vote freely on bills before Parliament. But the party leader Stephen Harper allegedly insisted that it have an attachment stating: "If resolution P-90 is passed at the plenary, the plenary will not consider resolutions P-91 through P-95." The latter are resolutions concerning:
bulletWeighting the will of the constituents over the MP's personal views.
bulletDefining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
bulletRefusal of the party to support legislation to regulate abortion.
bulletBan all partial birth abortions during the third trimester no matter what the circumstances.
bulletCreation of a Royal Commission to study euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

Thus, if P-90 were approved, there would be no resolutions, debate or established party stand on these social issues. The former Canadian Alliance supporters were angered by the move. The former Progressive Conservatives were pleased. Reaction from ordinary party members, pro-life and anti-SSM groups was strong. P-90 was rejected. The remaining resolutions will be debated at the party convention.

bullet2005-MAR-10: Estimated support for C-38 bill: The web site "Free Vote on Same-Sex Marriage" attempts to track support and opposition for bill C-38. Predictions were:
bulletFor 164
bulletAgainst 134
bulletUnknown 9
bullet2005-MAR-11: Committee members chosen to study bill C-38: Six Liberal MPs, four Conservative MPs, two Block Quebecois MPs, and one NDP member have been chosen to make up the committee which will review the bill, hold public presentations, etc. The four Conservatives all oppose SSM; all of the rest. LifeSiteNews, a conservative Protestant group which is opposed to SSM, recommends that other Canadians who oppose equal rights for same-sex couples ask that the Committee be permitted to travel across the country to hear witnesses. They also suggest that Canadians complain to their MPs about they regard as stacking of the committee in favor of SSM. 6
bullet2005-MAR-17: SSM debate has died down: There has been little coverage of SSM during the month of March. There have been only two letters to the editor in the Toronto Star newspaper on the topic: both favored SSM on human rights grounds. Several anti-SSM "marriage rally" are being conducted across Canada every week, largely in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
bullet2005-MAR-21: SSM debated in Parliament: Many Conservatives and a few LiIberals debated SSM in Parliament. A few speakers were:
bulletLiberal MP John McKay, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance, expressed concern about inadequate "so-called protection for religious officials." He said that freedom guarantees in the bill are "worthless....There is not a scintilla of doubt that religious institutions and their officials would be the next line of attack....Were I a religious official or a religious institution, I would be bracing for an onslaught of legal battering."
bulletLiberal MP Dan McTeague, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: "It became very clear to me that despite the guarantees that are given on paper and by this House as to what the next level of protection is going to be, frankly, it is not worth the paper it is written on."
bulletMrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Liberal-Lambton, Kent, Middlesex) conducted a survey among her constituents and found that the vast majority favor depriving same-sex couples of the right to marry. She feels that the Supreme Court has erred in granting rights to same-sex couples in conflict with the beliefs of many religious groups who believe that same-sex couples should be discriminated against.  She said: "In my opinion we cannot tinker with the fundamentals of an institution like marriage without expecting significant consequences. Marriage is not improved by becoming all things to all people. Changing the public meaning of an institution changes the social reality. It transforms the understandings and practices supported by that institution."
bulletGarry Breitkreuz (Conservative - Yorktown, Melville) read into the record a number of statements by previous Liberal governments in opposition to SSM.
bulletLiberal MP John McCallum who is the Minister of National Revenue, supports SSM. He asserted that gay marriage does not reduce the rights of other Canadians; it does not in any way devalue his own marriage. Churches or other religious institutions not be forced to perform gay marriages against their will. He concluded "...that the civil marriage act extends the rights of gay Canadians without diminishing the rights of other Canadians. Accordingly I am pleased to support this bill and I would do so whether or not I was a member of cabinet....To light a candle from another that is already burning does not diminish the light of that first candle, but rather serves to brighten the room. It is fundamental to our society that we offer basic rights to all. It is fundamental that we strive to extend our interpretation of equality as far as possible.... One cannot pick and choose between minorities whose rights one wants to defend and minorities whose rights one chooses to oppose. If we do not protect the rights of one group, in this case gay Canadians, we set a precedent that would make it easier to abuse the rights of other Canadians down the road. We do not want to embark on that path." 7
bullet2005-MAR-27: Sikh MPs ordered to oppose SSM bill: Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the world's highest Sikh authority, has warned Sikh-Canadian MPs that they must try to block the SSM bill or suffer ostracism by their community for flouting their religious duty. He told reporters that he had reminded six Sikh-Canadian MPs in January of their duty when they visited the Golden Temple in India. He said: "The basic duty of Sikh MPs in Canada should be to support laws that stop this kind of practice [homosexuality] because there are thousands of Sikhs living in Canada -- to ensure that Sikhs do not fall prey to this practice....I told them about Sikh teachings and how Sikhs should come forward to protect these Sikh tenets. The Sikh religion would never accept such MP's. Nobody would support such a person having such dirty thoughts in their mind because it is against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature"

Manjit Singh Kalkatta, a member of the governing body of the Golden Temple -- the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee -- said: "We expect from every practicing Sikh, whether he is a member of a legislative assembly or Parliament, that he would abide by his faith." Referring to Liberal MP Navdeep Bains, Kalkatta said: "I was successful in putting a message to him that he should not espouse this cause publicly, as the Sikh people would reject that and he would lose his own people's support. He is a baptized Sikh and must adhere to the principles of his religion." 8

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Later developments

Possible paths forward to legalize same-sex marriage

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References used:

  1. Tom Wappel, Bill C-38, Hansard, 2005-FEB-18, at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/
  2. "Today's Family News," Focus on the Family Canada, 2003-MAR-02.
  3. Les Whittington & Susan Delacourt, "PM wins 88% approval rating," The Toronto Star, 2005-MAR-07, Page A5.
  4. "Join us, and support same-sex rights!," Young Liberals of Canada, 2005-FEB-22, at: http://www.defendmarriage.ca/site/
  5. "NEW Martin Liberal Campaign - 'It's the Charter, Stupid'," defendMARRIAGE, 2005-FEB-27, at: http://www.defendmarriage.ca/
  6. LifeSiteNews.com, 2005-MAR-11.
  7. "Hansard," 2005-MAR-21, at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/
  8. Martin Cohn, "Reject gay bill, Sikh MPs told," The Toronto Star, 2005-MAR-28, Page A1 and A10.

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Copyright 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-APR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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