Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on this very important issue. After listening to the last few speakers, I want to read something:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to state that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament will take all necessary steps to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.
I do not know how much clearer we can get than that. We talk about hot button politics. With some of the comments being made by the other parties in the House, I would be ashamed to be associated with those parties.
We are here to talk about one issue and only one issue. That is the definition of marriage between one man and one woman. I lay awake last night for a long time thinking about this issue. I truly want to thank the hon. member for Calgary Centre for bringing forward the motion. He has been a very strong person in support of this message and has had the courage to bring this very important issue before parliament.
Often in the House we get caught up, and rightly so, in raising our standard of living, taxes, health care and the war in Kosovo. We talk about those subjects hour in and hour out and sometimes it is my belief that we lose focus on the bigger, very important issues. This is one of them.
I have been in the courts as a member of the bar. Judges are always shaping the law of the land. The law of the land has been by no means static. It is very dynamic. It changes over time. When judges make their rulings it is very important to them that they look at where the legislatures and the parliament of the country stand on various issues.
Quite often lawyers presenting cases will refer to Hansard . We have seen in recent court decisions where the courts interpret a variety of issues. In British Columbia this year a judge ruled that possession of child pornography is not a crime in Canada. Of course the country was immediately outraged.
This is a case where parliament has an opportunity to send a very clear message, and it is painfully simple, on where the Parliament of Canada stands on the definition of marriage. Parliament is the supreme lawmaker of Canada. We know the definition of marriage in the books right now and we have an opportunity to reaffirm that, which I think is very important.
Many members have suggested that there is a much deeper meaning to what we are trying to do. I want to talk about that deeper meaning. I want to go deep inside this definition and this motion to what we are trying to do.
After spending hours thinking about this and looking at it from all angles, the deepest meaning I can come up with is that we are reaffirming the definition of marriage between one man and one woman. Nothing else. That is it. It is painfully simple. It cannot be confused with any other issues.
I have sat in parliament for the past few years. I appreciate that somebody would bring forward this motion because it is what really matters to Canadians. Actually I am offended when I hear members of other parties trying to minimize its importance. They have asked what the Reform Party is doing. They have said that this law is on the books and have asked why it is wasting time and why it has come forward with this meaningless motion.
Some 85 members of the House of Commons, or almost one-third, have tabled petitions on the definition of marriage containing hundreds of thousands of signatures. I cannot recall another issue in which so many Canadian people have believed so strongly that they wanted to send a message and table that many petitions. I have seen members table petitions that are inches high.
I am truly offended by members who suggest that this is not an important issue to Canadians; that it does not deserve time in parliament; that it does not deserve members of the House taking a stand and sending an unequivocal, clear message to all of Canada, to all the courts and to all members of the bar that this is where the House of Commons stands on this issue. There is nothing deeper than that.
We have heard the Minister of Justice say that she will support it, but to suggest that this is not an important issue is to have missed the mark. I emphasize the number of signatures. How much plainer and simpler can we get than this definition? There are no other issues. There is no hidden agenda, absolutely nothing.