Madam Speaker, that was an interesting little rant from the member opposite.
As I said, I want to address some of the remarks made by the House leader of the fifth party. He said that this judgment was a very narrow one, merely a technical application and that members of my party were trying for some malicious reason to argue unreasonably that this affects the law more broadly than it actually does.
I find it entirely inconsistent when he argues that it is unreasonable for this parliament to define spouse as including members of the opposite sex but that it is reasonable for this House to define marriage as including members of the opposite sex alone. In other words, he is in favour of discrimination, in his words, when it comes to marriage, but he is against it when it comes to spouse. I find this kind of legalistic pettifogging, quite frankly, to be incoherent.
I will read the relevant section of the Income Tax Act which was affected by the Rosenberg judgment into the record so we can all see exactly what this judgment did:
In this Act,
(a) words referring to a spouse at any time of a taxpayer include the person of the opposite sex who cohabits at that time with the taxpayer in a conjugal relationship...
(b) references to marriage shall be read as if a conjugal relationship between 2 individuals who are, because of paragraph (a), spouses of each other were a marriage;
(c) provisions that apply to a person who is married apply to a person who is, because of paragraph (a), a spouse of a taxpayer; and
(d) provisions that apply to a person who is unmarried do not apply to a person who is, because of paragraph (a), a spouse of a taxpayer.
In the arcane language of the Income Tax Act, that is essentially saying that the definition of spouse and marriage for the purposes of this section of the Income Tax Act, as affected by the Rosenberg decision, are synonymous. I can only assume that the House leader of the fifth party did not read the relevant section of the statute because it makes it absolutely clear that by redefining spouse the court has also indirectly redefined marriage.
The hon. leader of the fifth party said that it is reasonable for this parliament to discriminate in terms of the definition of marriage; to discriminate positively and justifiably in favour of marriage conceived as it has been throughout the millennia as an institution consisting of members of opposite sexes.
We are debating a very serious thing. The House leader of the fifth party also said that he would rather have us discuss more important issues. I cannot conceive of a more important issue for members of this place to deliberate than whether or not this parliament is maintaining the supremacy which properly belongs to it by our constitutional history.
In this respect I will quote from Mr. Justice John McClung of the Alberta appeals court. In the Vriend decision he said: “When unelected judges choose to legislate, parliamentary checks, balances and conventions are simply shelved. Yet those cornerstones took centuries to assemble. They came at great cost. Our constitutional heritage is but a calendar of their acquisition, sometimes bloody, for both royal and commoner. All of these formative resources stand suspended when rights restless judges pitchfork their courts into the uncertain waters of political debate”. I could not say it more eloquently.
I appeal to all members to think deeply about the implications not just of this decision, but of courts that have begun to regard themselves as legislators. We represent the people, the judges do not.