Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak once again on Bill C-23. This is the third opportunity I have had to speak on this very important piece of legislation.
I would like to begin by summarizing some of the points I made earlier. They are points that I have not heard refuted or rebutted at all in the House by government members. I would invite the minister or the secretary of state for multiculturalism to listen for herself and hear the facts.
Here are the facts. The outline of my argument at the beginning of debate was that this was an “A equals B equals C” logical arrangement being put in place by the government. What it is really doing is equating common law partnerships to same sex unions and equating those to married relationships, in fact, in the eyes of the law, making all three the same.
I have not heard that refuted by the government. The only thing I have heard is from the Minister of Justice who said that people who are married are able to divorce and that the Divorce Act applies in their case, but the Divorce Act does not apply in the case of common law partnerships as the new terminology would have it in this bill. That is the only difference highlighted by the minister, so in fact she is agreeing that what the bill does is put marriage on the same footing as common law partnerships, both heterosexual and same sex. That is what she is saying.
The minister of multiculturalism questions her own comprehension as I hear her muttering under her breath. It is quite clear that she does not understand the argument she and the government are putting forward.
What they are saying in effect with this bill is that they believe in sexual egalitarianism, that anyone can choose whatever arrangements they like and the state will treat such arrangements in exactly the same way through public policy. That is the net effect of Bill C-23.
The hon. member is a minister of the crown. Certainly she must be able to follow the logic of her own argument and the logic of the government bringing in this bill. She seems to be unaware of this fact. That is baffling and it should highlight for Canadians that the ground the government is standing on is very weak.
Its defence has been a few arguments, one of which I will call the name game that I referred to earlier, that is that anybody who would stand and oppose this bill on the logical grounds that the bill simply does not make sense is called names. We know the whole host of names that has been spouted out by members of the government. In fact, that is an argument and a tactic used to shut down debate. That is what we call intellectual bullyism. That is exactly what the minister and members of her government participate in. When there is no strong argument based on logic, then hurl names at other people and those people will not stand in their places to poke holes in your weak and flimsy arguments. That is a tactic employed by this government. It is a tactic that I saw many times used in my previous life as a teacher on the schoolyard. It is the same tactic that is being used here.
The minister has to understand that there are people, not only in this House, members of the Canadian Alliance, but across the country who will stand up for what they believe to be true even in the face of being called names by those who assume that they are in the right.
Another part of my argument which I explained earlier is the notion of absolutism versus relativism. When a government rejects the notion of truth and that there is any such thing as right and wrong, it is on very weak ground. In fact, when it makes the argument that what it proposes is right, that argument implodes upon itself. How can one possibly say that what you choose to do is okay with you and what I choose to do is okay with me, but what I am choosing is actually what is right and what you are choosing is wrong? That whole argument of relativism upon which the government bases Bill C-23 is very weak and flimsy and does not hold water. It is like saying “What I believe to be true is right and everybody else should believe what I believe”.
When one enters into that line of thinking as the government has done here, what one really is doing is imposing one's perspective on people. It is imposing one's moral perspective on people. The members say that this is nonsense but if they followed the logical conclusions of their own arguments, they would see that they are basing Bill C-23 on a fallacy that does not hold water, that does not stand up to the rigours of intellectual debate. They are weak and flimsy arguments veiled with name calling. That is all they are.
The effect of this bill is to equate all relationships as being the same. The minister talked about discriminatory practices. She is a minister of the crown that discriminates against certain arrangements. Right now if a man chooses to marry two women, he is discriminated against. What if he is in an arrangement of three people? Let us call it a triad. The government discriminates against that. I do not see the minister standing up to argue that there should be an extension of benefits to this arrangement, yet she said that there should be an extension of benefits to another arrangement. This is the logical outgrowth of this kind of reasoning that says that we are basing the law on the concept of sexual egalitarianism.
In our society we have always said that marriage is a very important institution. In fact, our society is built on it. Because marriage is so important, we assign benefits and require obligations from those who enter into that arrangement because it is the arrangement that provides for the building of a society. Now what the minister and the government are doing is saying that they think marriage is a social invention, that it is not an institution that has any immutable characteristics of good in and of itself, but it is just some social arrangement that people decided was a good way to go and now we will go a different way. We will open the door to any set of groups of individuals who would choose to come before us and argue their case and receive like benefits as those who are married. That is a dangerous road to go down as a society. I do not think the minister understands the implications of what she is proposing in this bill.
It is very telling what the government has done in this place in voting down amendments that would put in the definition of marriage as the union of a single man and a single woman to the exclusion of all others. It voted against those amendments time and time again, about 100 times last night in this place. It is signalling with its actions that it is not willing to protect that definition of marriage. We have seen in this place what has happened in the past.
My colleague from Calgary Centre and I were in this place in 1997 and brought forward a debate on the Rosenberg decision in Ontario. We pleaded with the government when that court redefined spouse to include same sex. It went way beyond the boundaries of what was intended by parliament. We asked the government to appeal that case because it would set a precedent that would later on be used in other court cases to redefine marriage.
We know that there are those who are pushing this bill who want to see that, the redefinition of marriage to include same sex individuals. What was the government's action? It did not even put up a defence in 1997 when spouse was redefined.
How can Canadians trust this group when the challenge comes because there are those who are committed to challenging the definition of marriage? How can Canadians trust this group here who did not even defend the definition of spouse to defend marriage? A group must be judged on its actions. Empty words and rhetoric do not hold water.
In closing, I would implore Canadians to examine the actions of the government and what it is doing in proceeding on this path with Bill C-23 and building it on the notion of sexual egalitarianism. It is signalling to Canadians that it no longer holds the institution of marriage as a sacred institution in the building block of society. The Canadian Alliance thinks that is wrong and we will stand up against this kind of move from the government.