Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-33 to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act.
This legislation will add the undefined term sexual orientation to the list of categories which offer special protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act. This contravenes the concept of equality, the idea that all people are equal and should be treated as equals under the law.
This bill sets aside one more category under the Canadian Human Rights Act to include people who will get special treatment under the law. This is a break away from equality. I believe the intentions of the government is presenting this legislation are good and are honourable, but the results of this legislation, should it pass, and we know it will because closure has been invoked and the government whip will make sure it passes, will be one more category enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The argument used by some members opposite of how could anyone oppose adding protection based on sexual orientation under the Canadian Human Rights Act is not a valid argument. What should happen is that all categories set aside for special treatment should be eliminated. We should, pure and simple, view Canadians as equal, and under the law we should treat all people in this country as equal.
I cannot support a bill which breaks away from this important basic principle of equality.
I would like to read the very first principle written in the Reform blue book. It is the most important principle that guides Reform policy.
It says: "We affirm commitment to Canada as a balanced federation of equal provinces and citizens". The most important principle of Reform is the principle of equality. I will support no legislation that goes against this principle. It is a basic principle that I think Canadians support without reservation. For that reason, I will vote against this bill.
I would like to comment on what my constituents say about this legislation. I did a survey about a year ago in anticipation of this legislation coming forward. The survey went out to all eligible voters in the constituency through a householder. I would like to read some results of this survey.
I will read the question so members know what was asked. It was a fair, unbiased question: Should sexual orientation, undefined, be included as a protected category under the Canadian Human Rights Act? That is quite a simple, straight forward question.
What response did I get from my constituents? The message was very clear. There is no doubt how my constituents feel on this issue. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said they are against having sexual orientation, undefined, included as a protected category under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Only 6 per cent were in favour. The rest were undecided or did not respond to that question. Those results are pretty clear. They certainly guide my vote.
When going to constituents to determine their view on an issue, it is important to do the background work. This issue has been well debated in my constituency. The media have played their role on this issue. They reported what has gone on at public meetings. They reported what different people are saying on this issue. They have my point of view on it. They have the point of view of many others from the constituency who have an interest in this issue. The debate has taken place at public meetings. There has been media involvement. This has taken place over some time.
Finally, the formal mechanism, a key part of the process, which is a householder survey that went out to all constituents, indicated that 89 per cent are against having sexual orientation, undefined, included as a protected category under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
I also asked in the householder some other questions about related issues. These related issues, although the government argues otherwise, are pertinent. When this change passes-we know it will-it will lead to more changes down the road.
Many members in this House and people outside who support this legislation say that this is only a first step. I firmly believe that.
The other related questions that I asked in this survey were these. I will read them and give the results: Do you agree with the definition of the family as those individuals related by the ties of blood, marriage or adoption and that marriage is the union between a man and a woman as recognized by the state? The response to this question: 96.5 or 97 per cent were in favour, only 2 per cent were against and about 1 per cent were undecided.
I asked two other two related questions. One question was: Should spousal benefits for any program funded or administered by the federal government be extended to same sex couples? In response 94 per cent said no, only 4 per cent said yes and about 1 per cent were undecided. Those results are quite clear.
I believe that not only do the results reflect the position and the beliefs of the people in my constituency but they reflect a much larger view. I have heard this certainly in Ontario, Atlantic Canada and across the prairies as I have gone around the country over the past couple of years.
The fourth question that I put to the people in my constituency was: Should a new category called households be established for the purposes of identifying dependent relationships that are not currently included in the definition of a family? In response 88 per cent said no, 7 per cent yes-