Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this issue.
I should say to the member for Calgary Southeast that what he wrote out is generally a stamp that we reserve for all the Reform Party motions that come across the floor. Usually they would fit into that category. We were always writing it out in longhand and figured it was probably more appropriate that we just get a stamp to use. Today is an exception because the motion that is before us will find a lot of support on this side of the House. It will certainly find support from me, and I am sure that many of my colleagues who have already spoken and who will finish out this debate will also support it.
I take the opposite view. I do not regret or bemoan the fact that we are taking what amounts to an expensive legislative day in keeping the House going to debate this. I thank the Reform Party for giving us the opportunity to tell our constituents exactly how we feel about the issue of marriage, family and what makes the country strong. It is a great opportunity for us to do that and I truly do thank the members opposite.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia.
I want to add that the information is clear. While I believe that we have been given the opportunity to get our message across, the Reform Party knows that the government remains committed and has given no signal and no indication that there will be a change in its support of Canadian families. There are no plans to legislate a change in the definition of the term marriage.
Let us go back to where that comes from. The definition of marriage in federal law is not in a statute passed by parliament but is found in what is called the federal common law dating from an 1866 British case of Hyde and Hyde v Woodmansee, a case dealing with the legal invalidity of polygamy. This case has been applied consistently in Canada with the result that no marriage can exist between two persons of the same sex. It would be void ab initio, which means from the beginning. This is clear. No jurisdiction worldwide differs in that particular area, even though there may be some European or Scandinavian countries that do allow same sex partners to register their relationships.
I would be very interested to hear the position of the Reform Party when the province of Alberta, which seems to be leading the charge on this, comes out with a plan—and many of these members of course are from that province—that would allow same sex partners to register an interdependency on one another and thereby have access to certain benefit plans such as survivor rights or pension rights. It is actually an interesting solution to the problem for those of us who recognize marriage as a union between a man and a woman and no one else.
It is a solution because I was in the province of Ontario when we had the debate over whether or not we would extend rights to same sex couples for benefits. Many major corporations in the country have already done that and are way ahead of government. We had a very acrimonious debate on the floor of the legislature in Ontario. The galleries were filled with people who were extremely upset. When the debate was over and we voted against extending same sex benefits, the place was literally taken over by a mob.