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House of Commons Hansard #240 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

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5:45 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, of course history will prove or disprove any comments made in the House.

I of course have paid some attention to what has happened in British Columbia with a recent judicial decision that has made the possession of child pornography quite acceptable. My constituents disagree vigorously with that.

The most important thing I am saying today, and I will say it as plainly as I can to the member, is that this is about affirming the importance of the institution of marriage. If the member opposite is not comfortable with that I am interested as to why. If we want to go off on a tangent in other areas, she may, but I will not.

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5:45 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in debate on the motion brought before us by the official opposition, which reads:

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.

The definition included in the motion before us is the standard common law definition which the government affirms, for instance, in its response to the many tens of thousands of petitions brought before this place.

We are simply seeking to reaffirm what has been the legal common law understanding of the past 150 years or more in Canada and the Commonwealth and, more importantly, to reaffirm the normative understanding of an essential social institution, the basic institution of civil society as it has been understood for millennia, through all of human civilization.

Some members opposite, including the member for Thornhill, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, have indicated that this is a moot point and a redundant motion insofar as no one is proposing any changes.

I find this quite unbelievable because I have several times today quoted from what I think is a relatively important authority which has proposed a change to the law in this respect and that institution just so happens to be the Liberal Party of Canada.

First, I want to commend members opposite for supporting this motion, and I commend the many members who have stood in the House to indicate that they share our view, that this is an important debate to have so that we can place on the official parliamentary record the importance of reaffirming the common law understanding of marriage. Yet we have heard from certain members opposite, such as the member for Thornhill, the member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, the parliamentary secretary to the attorney general, and the attorney general herself, who said this morning: “Why use the already limited time of the House to debate a motion, on which, I suspect, there will be no fundamental disagreement inside or outside the House?”

Just as I was standing, the hon. member for Thornhill said that no one is proposing any changes to the definition of marriage. Then why is it that I have in my hand a resolution passed by the duly elected delegates of the Liberal Party of Canada at their policy convention last summer, where I stood as an observer, which reads:

Be it resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada strongly urge the federal government to recognize same sex marriages in the same way it recognizes opposite marriages—

Just a moment ago the member from Thornhill said that no one is proposing a change. The Liberal Party of Canada is proposing a change. The Government of Canada may not be responding to its party members. That is its own business. It can govern its own affairs as it wishes.

I think it is absolutely incumbent upon us to point out that people are proposing change in an institution no less than the Liberal Party of Canada. Hon. members say that we should let the courts tend to their business of judicial review, that we have the charter and the charter will be interpreted fairly by the courts and members of this parliament can sit by as passive observers and watch that process unfold.

If one were to have suggested at the time of the introduction of the charter of rights that the legal definition of spouse would be fundamentally changed, people would have said that is unbelievable. That is fearmongering, they would have said.

One of the major decisions in the charter era was the Morgentaler decision striking down section 251 of the Criminal Code in 1988. Yet back in 1981, when the charter was debated in this place, the then attorney general, the current Right Hon. Prime Minister, was asked at committee whether any section of the charter could possibly be used to strike down the criminal provisions with respect to abortion and the then attorney general, the now Prime Minister, said, “Oh, no”. He said it in Hansard . We can reference it. The point is that we cannot predict with any degree of certitude what the courts are likely to do in their increasingly expanded understanding of judicial review.

That is why it is incumbent upon us to accept the invitation of the judges, of the courts, to enter into a dialogue. A dialogue is a two way conversation. It is not a monologue. To date we have merely had a monologue from the courts on issues of this nature. It is now time for parliament to speak so that we are on the record as asserting the current legal common law definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.

I cannot imagine why this would be a controversial motion. I cannot imagine why the Liberal Party would propose to scrap this definition. I cannot imagine for my own purposes why the courts of Canada would choose to change substantively the nature of marriage in law as they have essentially done through the M and H and other related decisions regarding spousal relations.

Let us be clear. The Liberal member from Mississauga quoted Mr. Corbett from the Foundation for Equal Families as saying that at this point the question of the definition of marriage is premature, from which a reasonable person could infer that his organization and like-minded individuals will use their democratic right to go to the courts to seek a redefinition of marriage; not at this time, because they do have an incremental legal agenda, and that is quite understandable, but at some point in the future. I do not think any reasonable person can have any doubt that a litigant will come before our courts seeking to strike down the current exclusionary definition of marriage, the common law definition, using as a basis the charter of rights. The government's posture, as articulated today, would be to sit back passively and allow the courts possibly to redefine the meaning of marriage at that time.

That is why we have come before the House today in 1999. That litigation might not occur this year. It might not occur for three or four years, but sooner or later it surely will occur. If we pass this motion tonight the Parliament of Canada, the supreme lawmaking body of this country, will have spoken and will be on the record affirming the age old common law understanding of the institution of marriage, which is absolutely central to a healthy civil society.

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5:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I would like to applaud the Reform Party for the motion that it has brought forward today and the dialogue that has taken place.

There has been a lot of unease over the last while with respect to some of the decisions taken by the courts. I do not believe that those recent decisions apply to today's debate, but I applaud the merits of the debate.

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast said that he could not imagine why anybody would have a problem with the motion which has been put forward. He pointed out quite clearly that because of the charter a lot of decisions have started to take place. If it was proclaimed that the definition of spouse and marriage could be changed when the charter was brought in in 1982, I guarantee members that the artificial support we had for the charter would not have been there.

The definition of marriage has always been that of a union between a man and a woman. In his opinion, does he agree that it always should be?

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5:55 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, absolutely, and I appreciate the intervention.

Politicians seem to think that we can change the ontological meaning of words, of concepts. Marriage has enormous meaning. It has a certain objective meaning. It is tautological to say that marriage is a committed relationship between a man and a woman. It is tautological. Of course marriage means that. Not even the Parliament of Canada, not even a bunch of judges can change a metaphysical reality. That is what a marriage is.

People will come before the courts seeking to change the legal privileges given to married people and to expand them. However, there is a certain reality. Marriage is marriage. It is between a man and a woman and it can be between no others. We are simply affirming that basic metaphysical reality through this motion.

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5:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I have listened to the debate today and I want to thank the hon. member for his comments.

When the charter of rights was introduced I do not think that anyone would have believed that prisoners would receive the right to vote based upon the charter. I do not believe that anyone in Canada would have believed that bogus refugees, as soon as they land in Canada, would have all of the protections of the charter of rights and freedoms. I do not believe that the people of this country, at the time the charter was brought in, would have believed it if someone would have said that it would be used to strike down the abortion laws of the Criminal Code of Canada. I do not think the people of Canada back in those days would have believed that this government would bring in a bill that would allow for benefits to be transferred to Canadians based upon a sexual relationship, and Bill C-78 has done exactly that.

When we look at the whole institution of marriage and its definition, when we listen to people who scorn or attack the motion, saying that it is a moot question or a waste of time, and when we look at the history of what the charter has done to society in this country, we have reason to be concerned. I would like the member to comment on that.

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5:55 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, the member for Crowfoot makes the point very well. We all support appropriate judicial review where the courts narrowly use their appropriate constitutional authority to interpret and define the laws. But for the courts to invent rights in the charter which are not explicit, which were not enshrined in it by the framers in 1982 is illegitimate in our view. That is why we must speak, to make it clear and plain to the courts that no jurisprudence can change the common law understanding of marriage. This parliament will take whatever action is necessary to uphold marriage contra any decision by the courts.

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6 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not hesitate in supporting your calling the House to order at such a solemn moment, not just because I am rising to speak, but also because I believe the matter raised by the Reform Party is an important one.

I agree with the Reform Party that we need to discuss these matters. I am not of course in agreement with the position proposed. We need to discuss these matters because marriage is not a reality of divine right. It is not something that exists in itself, but something set out in legislation, and therefore something important for us to discuss.

Since I have about 20 minutes, I will take the time to read the wording of the motion in order to clearly set today's debate in context. The Reform Party motion reads as follows:

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—

We can see the imperative nature of this motion.

—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.

In fact, some people have asked whether the wording “all necessary steps” means going so far as to use the notwithstanding clause. The question can be asked, and I think that members of the Reform Party will have to answer it.

I do not believe that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. I am among those who believe—and I will give my reasons later—that we should consider opening up the institution of marriage because marriage is not a divine right. It is an institution that required lawmakers to step in, and that is why conventional marriage as we know it is a prerogative of this parliament. The solemnization of marriage is a prerogative of various legislatures, but the definition of marriage has required that lawmakers step in, or we would not be looking at a motion such as this.

If marriage were limited strictly to canonical law, it would not concern us as parliamentarians. But canonical law is not the issue here.

I know that throughout their history, our Reform Party colleagues have made a number of attempts, some of them more adroit than others, to limit or refuse to recognize the right of two men or two women to form a conjugal union. I say again that I believe strongly that two men or two women can form conjugal unions and that lawmakers must recognize this reality, much as the supreme court has done in its recent decisions.

Before exploring this topic any further, I want to ask to what the motion is referring when it mentions various court decisions. Since 1992 a number of decisions both of administrative tribunals and of superior courts, such as the Ontario Court of Appeal and the supreme court, have progressively recognized and established case law and have handed down decisions recognizing same sex couples.

I will give a bit of background here. I know that I have the House's full attention and I am delighted. In 1992, when Kim Campbell was the minister of justice—I do not want to dredge up bad memories in the House—a decision was handed down by the Ontario Court of Appeal. This decision was the start of abundant jurisprudence.

In 1992, in the Haig case, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the Canadian human rights legislation saying that it was unconstitutional because it did not recognize sexual orientation as a prohibited grounds of discrimination. The government amended the law and we are grateful to it for doing so. This was at the time the current Minister of Health was the minister of justice.

Following the Haig decision, there was increasing recognition in legal annals that continued to grow in strength. Real case law was therefore born giving recognition to the fact that there could be common law conjugal unions between two men and two women, that is, partners of the same sex.

There was the decision in Haig. Recently there was the decision in Rosenberg where once again the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned certain provisions of the Income Tax Act saying that they were not compatible with section 15 of the Canadian charter of human rights by not according same sex partners survivor benefits.

Treasury Board amended this legislation. We would have preferred an omnibus bill. I have been tirelessly proposing year after year since 1994 in private member's bills that parliament acknowledge same sex spouses and permit passage of a single piece of legislation amending all existing laws. There are some 70 laws. All heterosexual definitions according benefits and requirements would include a homosexual definition of spouses.

I do not despair because increasingly persistent rumours—and I ask the parliamentary secretary to nod if she believes these rumours have some basis—are intimating that in October the government will table, in an unprecedented act of generosity, a bill recognizing same sex spouses. I can tell him in advance that he can count on my support and, more widely, that of the Bloc Quebecois, I believe.

When addressing these issues, we are speaking of the recognition of spouses of the same sex. That is what the Reform Party members are against. They have in fact introduced a motion against the Rosenberg decision.

Canadians, Quebecers and all those who support human rights must know that the Reform Party does not recognize that two women or two men can love each other and be protected by the legislator. That is the starting point of a debate such as the one we are having here today.

Since they do not acknowledge the existence of such a reality, hon. members will realize that anything even remotely connected to this is also disapproved of by the Reform Party.

It is their right as parliamentarians to discuss these matters and to hold that position but, in my opinion, their position is archaic and dated. It is rooted in another century. Canadians and Quebecers are far more generous in spirit than the Reform Party would have us believe. All those who agree with me applaud now.

That having been said, we agree that Canadians and Quebecers are far more generous, tolerant and open-minded than the Reform Party would have us believe.

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6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Long live Canada.

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6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to keep her cool. I sense this may be going somewhere I do not wish to go.

There is no one in the House who can say how many people of homosexual orientation there are. Why is that so? Because it is not part of our tax returns. When people file tax returns they do not declare whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. When there is a census we do not declare whether we are heterosexual or homosexual. So no one can say how many in the population are gay.

What we do know, however, is that gays are taxpaying members of society, members of the workforce. Often they are involved in their communities. There is no reason that would justify our not recognizing that reality, as parliamentarians.

The recognition of marriage, as you yourself have experienced it, Madam Speaker, is not something the gay community is calling for. In the last five years I do not think I have met ten people in the community who have told me they thought I should take up this battle. It is not a big issue in the gay community, which is not to say that it is not discriminatory to prevent homosexuals from marrying.

It may not be a big issue in the gay community but last year an application was made to the Quebec superior court for a declaratory judgment nonetheless. If Reform Party members wish to read this application I am prepared to table a copy.

This would bring home to parliamentarians that although this is not a major issue in the community and although there is a stronger body of opinion calling for recognition of same sex spouses, there are in fact a few cases pending before the courts.

Last year two Quebecers, Michael Hendrix and René Leboeuf, made an application for a declaratory judgment to strike down article 365 of the Civil Code. A number of arguments were advanced that I think it would be useful to share with the House.

I would like to digress at this point to say that if someone offered to marry me tomorrow morning it is not a course I would take, although someone does have his eye on me and any desire I may have had to remain unattached is flagging. After three years, perhaps my colleagues have noticed that I am a different man when I am in love. I say that even if marriage were legalized I would not commit to it.

However, in all logic, in all fairness, I think we must recognize that homosexual men and women are similar to people who have married.

I will share with members some arguments that were made in the brief tabled by Mr. Hendrix and Mr. Leboeuf in an application for a declaratory judgment. I dedicate these arguments to the Reform members and hope they will listen carefully. They wrote:

They are considered to have the same rights and the same obligations in their union. Together they have acquired matrimonial property and therefore have a common heritage.

There is no doubt that when we live together for five, six, eight or ten years we build a common heritage. This is undeniable.

They wrote further:

They vowed respect, fidelity, help and assistance to each other.

If fidelity, respect and mutual assistance are attributes of a heterosexual union, there is no reason to think that they are not also attributes of homosexual unions.

They also said:

They lived together without interruption from the start of their union. Although there were no children, they have formed a family unit since the start of their relationship, just like childless married couples.

I will conclude this part of my remarks by saying that the co-applicants, just like heterosexual married couples, established and maintained from the start of their shared life a permanent family residence.

Why am I doing this? Because, in strict civil and legal terms, there is no argument against the fact that two men or two women may live in extremely similar unions that have the same characteristics of heterosexual unions characterized by ties of marriage.

Naturally what make the difference—and I respect that—are religious convictions. It is obvious that in the official line of the church, in its official doctrine, there is no recognition of homosexual marriages just as there is no recognition of divorce. Does this mean that if the Reform Party insists on sticking to strictly religious arguments it will have to have an opposition day before the end of the present session in order to have it acknowledged that divorce also cannot be recognized? If one sticks to official church doctrine, divorce is something reprehensible.

Hon. members can see where this type of argument, which seeks to limit the debate to religious considerations, can lead. My point is that. if men and women make a commitment to a union, provide each other with support, are together and are happy together in a free-will arrangement, if they share assets, if they have a family home and define themselves as a family—what is termed common repute—then in my opinion there is no reason whatsoever not to recognize a marriage between two men or two women.

If the principal spokespersons of the gay community were here right now—which, as hon. members may know, means the gays in three major centres, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal—I believe they would agree with me that this is not an important debate among them, that it is not a demand being made by the gay community. The fact remains that it is discriminatory to deny people access to the institution of marriage and to recognize it as the sole prerogative of the heterosexual community.

I hope that along the way we will understand and once and for all the Reform Party members will rise in the House and admit that their arguments are based on religious beliefs, which I respect. However religious beliefs cannot be included in a bill because any reference to God has to be in the plural. Religion is a system of symbols that help us to understand the world.

As parliamentarians, we are well aware that the days of religious monolithism are gone. The God of the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve is not the God the Reform Party member might invoke. It is not the God that certain of our Muslim colleagues or some of our colleagues from other religious denominations might call on.

It is therefore not our place, as parliamentarians, to try to limit debates to religious considerations given that religion is a question of pluralism. If we set this argument aside there is no reason not to recognize marriage and not to open this institution up to same sex couples.

The solemnization of marriage remains a provincial jurisdiction. The basic conditions are the prerogative of the federal government.

If the Reform Party had wanted to make a useful contribution, it should have asked the House to vote on a motion to put marriage back under the jurisdiction of the provinces, which are much closer to any matters related to the family and family policy. I think that would have been as useful a debate as the one moved today.

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6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been consultation among the parties, including a meeting of the House leaders, and I think you would find unanimous consent for some travel motions.

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6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there agreement in the House?

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6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I move:

That eight members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food be authorized to travel to Paris, Brussels and Strasbourg from October 9 to October 16, 1999, in order to conduct some pre-World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations on agriculture with their European counterparts and that two staff members do accompany the committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I move:

That Monique Hébert, Research Officer of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, be authorized to travel to Toronto, Ontario from June 21 to June 23, 1999, for the purpose of participating in the Conference on: “A Tactical Briefing on the New Canadian Environmental Protection Act (C-32)”.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, in relation to the prebudget consultations, the members of the Standing Committee on Finance be authorized to travel to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Halifax and Quebec City during the fall of 1999 to hold regional conferences and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I move:

That five members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and three staff persons travel to Quebec City to attend the Twentieth Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees from August 29 to August 31, 1999.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

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June 8th, 1999 / 6:20 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve for having made an important intervention in this debate and for the passion of his convictions. He has made a special contribution by demonstrating disagreement, contrary to the assertion of the hon. attorney general who said this morning that there will be no disagreement inside this House on this point.

Could the hon. member clarify for me that he does intend to oppose this motion because he supports the idea of changing the current legal definition of marriage to make it possible for those other than heterosexual relations? Will he be opposing this motion and will his party be supporting or opposing the motion? I would like to understand what they intend to do.

Does he not agree as he started with his remarks that this is a subject worth debating? Although he and I may disagree on the conclusion, would he agree this is a subject appropriate for public debate in this parliament?

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6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I began by saying that I was very happy to have this debate. The credit goes to the Reform Party for proposing it.

However, I believe fundamentally that there are no reasons beyond religious considerations that may not be included in a bill. I believe that there are no reasons why the institution of marriage, a social construction existing in laws and in the civil code, should not now be open to homosexual couples.

I do not believe that it exists as a divine right. I believe it is also an intervention of the lawmaker. If it were not the case it would make no sense for the Reform Party to be proposing a motion such the one before us now.

We are indeed happy to have this debate and we do believe this should be discussed among parliamentarians. However, I hope that, with vigour, parliamentarians will reject this motion.

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6:25 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I have been waiting all day for a chance to make a few comments. I realize a lot of other people would like to do that. Perhaps we will have to extend the debate.

Some of the criticism we have received as Reformers is that there are more important things to talk about. We are talking about the family, the fundamental building block of society. It is necessary that we discuss this and send a clear signal to the courts.

I want to read from an article written by Lorne Gunter in the Edmonton Journal . The title is “Cohabitation costly for the taxpayer”. He wrote:

—studies consistently find that 80 to 85 per cent of couples who start out by living together fail to make it through life together. Among couples who never lived together before wedding one another, the failure rate is under 20 per cent. Still, what gives anyone else the right to suggest common-law marriages are wrong? Just one thing: the cost of cleaning up the wreckage. Children whose parents' relationship breaks down are much more likely to underachieve at school and in life. They are nearly twice as likely to drop out, and girls are nearly three times as likely to get pregnant before leaving their teens and far more likely to have abortions. Suicides are higher, illegal drug use is greater and the incidence of `getting into trouble with the law' is nearly six times more. Simple marital breakdown is the leading cause of social problems, perhaps the leading cause. So because common-law relationships are so prone to breakdown they contribute disproportionately to the social ills that everyone must live with and subsidize.

In other words, we are talking about the family. We are talking about children. We are talking about the fundamental building block of society, not all the other things that people are trying to bring into this discussion.

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to reassure the member that I was not born on the planet Mars, but rather in a family I visit frequently, that loves me and that I love and with whom I have a growth and affectionate relationship that is very important.

I do not see the rationality of his remarks. I think that, whether a person is homosexual or heterosexual, we are all born in a family. When the member comes out without much warning and says that marriage is the main cause of divorce, I think there would be broad consensus in the House for accepting that.

I think there is a problem with his definition of family. I would be grateful if he allowed our colleague from Scarborough Southwest to ask me a question. I know he has a lot of expertise, not on gay issues but on the question of marriage.

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6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, despite the hon. member's previous comment which of course was unnecessary, I do want to compliment him for his passion on this issue. I know that he has very serious concerns in this matter.

I want to compliment him in particular because he has been consistent throughout his entire career here in the House of Commons in his position that this is the place to decide these issues. He has consistently indicated that it is the House of Commons that is to decide these issues, not the courts of Canada. I want to applaud him for that because he has been very consistent on it and I agree with him completely on that issue.

I want to ask him very clearly because he did not give an answer to the hon. member for Calgary Southeast. The official government position is that the term marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I would say that his speech was the perfect reason that we have to vote on this motion this evening.

I ask him very clearly, if the government's position is that the definition of marriage is clear in law, does he accept that law?

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6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not believe that one can say that just because a definition exists in the text of a law that definition is permanent and the fact that it is in the legislation prevents any contemplation of doing otherwise. That is what is called evolution.

There were no employment insurance benefits in the law 115 years ago. Now, however, there are. The right to divorce did not exist 90 years ago. Now it does.

What I am saying is that I agree with my colleague that this is a debate we need to engage in, but I do not agree with him that the institution of marriage must be exclusive to the heterosexual community. I think it must also—

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6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I regret to interrupt the hon. member.

It being 6.30 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motion.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Amendment agreed to)