Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Southeast.
It has been quite fascinating to sit in the House and watch this debate. Normally we would think an opposition motion supported by the government would be cause for celebration. Normally I would expect to say to my colleagues across the way that we are on the same wavelength.
I have listened to those who have tried to impugn the motive of the motion. I do not quite understand how anyone can look into the heart of someone making a motion and tell what the motives are. I wish the motion could stand as it is, because it is an affirmation of marriage as most Canadians understand it.
I will explain again to my colleagues why I think the motion is worth while and necessary. It is because there are signs that marriage is under some stress in terms of definition. I will list for my colleagues some of the signs I see. I come to this as a clinician who counselled about marriage for 25 years of my life. I have watched marriage decrease in terms of its importance in Canada as well as some definitional changes.
Do we need clarification? I say we do. Do we need reaffirmation of the definition of marriage? I say we do. One of the things I have watched is a redefinition of spouse. It happened so recently that I am surprised my colleagues across the way would not reflect upon it. There has been a recent redefinition of spouse in the courts of Canada. That is an indication that there is a very definite need to take a specific stand.
What do my own constituents say about it? I live in southwest Alberta and I took the opportunity to poll my constituents in relation to what they think about marriage. They have some concerns and are worried. They are very firm on the issue of no redefinition of marriage. They say that marriage must be as they have traditionally understood it.
Are the courts gradually changing the institution of marriage and the long term future of marriage? My answer is a resounding yes. Parliament should be, 100%, the last bastion for marriage when it comes to definition. There should be no social or judicial activism when it relates to marriage.
Let us look outside Canada for evidence on whether marriage is being redefined elsewhere. There was a recent attempt to redefine marriage in the states of Alaska and Hawaii. I had one of my colleagues make light of it and jokingly say that in one spot their brains were frozen. It was not light at all.
In those areas they tried to redefine marriage in a very specific legislative way. They handled it a different way from judicial activism. Both states went to the public with referendums at election time. It was fascinating to see what happened in both Alaska and Hawaii as they tried to openly and vigorously redefine marriage. In both cases the public rejected the redefinition of marriage. That tells me where the public is, along with my constituents who say that a redefinition of marriage is not on. The redefinition was renounced.
It concerns me that many of my colleagues seem to ignore what the social activists say. We have heard two or three times in the House that the redefinition of marriage according to social activists is premature. That tells me whether or not the issue is on the table.
I had an opportunity in the last parliament to debate Bill C-33 respecting sexual orientation and non-discrimination. I stated in the House publicly that I felt it was part of an ongoing campaign to redefine marriage.
I also stated that there were four steps. The first step was what Bill C-33 was trying to do. The second step was a redefinition of spouse. The third step was adoption. The fourth step would be a redefinition of marriage. I was roundly condemned by my colleagues across the way for saying that, but not five minutes after that bill passed a social activist in the House stood outside in the lobby and said that was exactly what was going on, that was exactly the intent.
To my Liberal colleagues who say there is nothing in the Liberal Party of Canada government-wise, I cannot imagine how a resolution passed at its last convention can be so quickly ignored. It says:
—the Liberal Party of Canada strongly urged the federal government to recognize same sex marriages in the same way that it recognizes opposite marriages in its distribution of benefits.
This was not done in isolation. This was not done in a vacuum. This was done actively.
I am delighted that my Liberal colleagues will support the motion. The statement we are making today is not so much for those of us in the House as it is profoundly important to the courts. The vote on the importance of the definition of marriage is probably the most important vote we will take in the House during my time here. I am delighted that my colleagues across the way will be supporting it. For those who cannot, I will be interested in listening to their rationale.
It would normally be a cause of celebration for me to say that we are on the same wavelength, that we are on the same path. I have difficulty understanding the issue of trying to find bad motives because I think the motives are very plain: affirmation of the strongest institution in Canada, affirmation of marriage.