Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the Canadian Alliance motion reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage. I will try to be very brief so that my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan can share the time with me.
In June 1999, I rose in this very chamber to debate the same motion, quite aware of the future court challenges to the definition of marriage. On that day, parliamentarians sent a powerful message to the judiciary, making it clear where we stood on this issue. An overwhelming majority of members, 216 to 55, on both sides of the House rose to support our motion reaffirming the definition of marriage. By the way, only 11 Liberal members opposed the motion that day.
As it turns out, however, the courts did not care what legislators had to say on the issue. When the Ontario Court of Appeal challenged Parliament by arbitrarily redefining marriage, the Liberals' true agenda came out. The government refused to appeal the Ontario ruling, deliberately undermining Parliament's clear position. After campaigning on their promise, one by one the member for LaSalle—Émard and others are abandoning the public vote they cast in 1999 in favour of marriage and in favour of Parliament's democratic authority on this issue.
The justice minister has referred an amended definition of marriage to the Supreme Court of Canada as a result of three provincial court decisions striking down the definition of marriage as unconstitutional. Once these judges, most appointed by the Prime Minister, have ruled on the issue, the Liberals will demand that a democratically elected Parliament simply rubber stamp the bill.
It is bad enough in this era of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the judiciary has not only assumed the power to strike down laws but also to read into laws things that are simply not there. It is a wrong precedent and absolutely a slap in the face of democracy.
The government's actions will draw the Supreme Court even further into politics and take away even more power from Parliament. The anointed Liberal leader and next prime minister will have a larger democratic deficit on his hands.
I have attended about 20 wedding ceremonies during the break where people have asked me to keep the traditional definition of marriage. Canadians, irrespective of religion or ethnic background, are disappointed by the Liberal government for their flip flopping in the last four years and for being proactive in changing the definition of marriage, which is the core of family values.
During the summer break, I held very successful town hall meetings on family values in Cloverdale, Fleetwood, and Newton in Surrey Central. My constituents have had a free and fair opportunity to express their views. My office has received a tremendous amount of correspondence on this issue and on religious freedom and family values.
The issue of marriage is at the core of family values. My constituents have told me that family values are important because they value our families. Families are the building blocks and foundation of society. The stronger the families the stronger the communities, and the stronger the communities the stronger our nation will be.
The family is a fact of life. It is not an option but a need of our society. The family is the reason that society exists. The family provides the loving, caring and supportive relationships. Because of families, we are able to nurture, develop and protect our children.
Therefore, federal laws should uphold our family and social values. The Liberals have offered a bundle of anti-family values since 1993. The Liberals have refused to protect the institution of family by not standing up to the challenges to marriage, spouses, family status and structure. Issues like divorce, shared parenting, custody and access and adoption are issues where they have shown weakness, and they refuse to protect children from sexual predators and child pornography, prostitution and abuse.
We know about the sex books for the kindergarten students in Surrey and the films and Internet to which children are being exposed.
The Liberals have refused to raise the age of consent from 14 to at least 16 for an adult to have sex with a child.
The Liberals have refused to crack down on sexual abusers and to put in place an effective sex offender registry. They have also failed to make tougher laws against violent crime and to put in place minimum sentences or other deterrents and prevention. We know the criminal justice system works for criminals, not for the victims.
The Liberals have failed to respect life in assisted human reproductive technology.
We all know about religious freedom in this place. We know about Bill C-250, which is the other side of the coin that is causing serious disturbance in society for religious freedom.
The Liberals have failed to offer equal opportunities to all citizens. They have failed to uphold social safety nets and benefit programs for families: security, CPP, retirement savings and medicare. They have failed to produce a family friendly income tax system that would not discriminate against stay at home parents. Two families in the same circumstances with the same total family income should not have different tax structures or tax bills.
I believe that Canadian law should be pro-family. Families are constituted by marriage, blood relation or by adoption. Marriage is a social institution. Marriage is not an option. It is a precondition for social survival. Threats to marriage and family poses counterfeit moral standards. Redefining marriage will no longer be a carrier of the message that children need mothers and fathers.
Where would the line be drawn on what would constitute a marriage. How about polygamy, age, blood relations? There would be no end to the litigation if this were opened.
Marriage is not only under attack by the courts but also by the ruling Liberal government. The federal government is making a grave error in judgment by not appealing the lower court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada and correcting the lower courts for overstepping their jurisdictions and then leave the decision to Parliament.
It is the role of Parliament, not the courts, to debate balancing conflicting rights in developing public policy and the laws of the land. Judges have the responsibility of finding the law as it exists, as it is made in this place.
Parliament has already given homosexual couples the same social and tax benefits as heterosexual couples in common law relationships. The definition of marriage and spouse were untouched but the definition of common law relationship was expanded to include same sex couples.
Some people say that this is an issue of equality. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. How can it be equal to a union of two men or two women? I see something wrong with this equation. Moreover, some people say that it is an issue of human rights. I believe that it is an issue of moral values. I believe that the unique character and institution of marriage should be strongly respected and legally recognized.
I will therefore be voting to retain the traditional definition of marriage because it is what I believe in, what my constituents have told me, it is our party policy and I believe it is the right thing to do.
We will continue to defend democracy and the traditional definition of marriage, and the overall package of family values which the Liberals have polluted and not offered in a real sense to the Canadian people.