Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that all persons, including homosexuals, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. However, that does not require us as a nation to redefine marriage so as to include persons in a same sex relationship. To do so would be illogical and, in the minds of millions of Canadians, immoral.
On August 29, 2003, I wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister. I would like to quote from that letter now. It states:
Dear Prime Minister,
At our National Liberal Caucus in North Bay you gave a public speech with which I strongly disagree and to which I feel compelled to respond publicly. You cautioned the many Liberal M.P.s who oppose redefining marriage to include same sex unions, not to fall into the “trap” of the Canadian Alliance. Your advice in this matter is politically simplistic and dismissive of the serious concerns of many members of our caucus.
Your advice misses the point completely: that this divisive debate transcends partisan politics because of the enormity of the issue. For me, preserving and protecting the traditional definition of marriage is a core moral belief on which I cannot compromise in good conscience. I made my view abundantly clear in a letter to then Justice Minister Anne McLellan in November, 1999, in which I stated “Same sex marriage is an oxymoron. No Court can make it otherwise”.
Tens of thousands of real Liberals share this view and none of us are being duped by anybody, least of all the Canadian Alliance, with whom we will continue to disagree on most issues of public policy.
You also stated that the demand for so-called same sex marriage “is not about weakening the Canadian social fabric.” With all due respect, Prime Minister, on that point, you are as wrong as you could possibly be.
Listen to the words of John McKellar, executive director of H.O.P.E., Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism, who said it is “selfish and rude for the gay community to push same sex marriage legislation and redefine society's traditions and conventions for our own self-indulgence. Federal and provincial laws are being changed and the traditional values are being compromised just to appease a tiny, self-anointed clique”, who represent only a fraction of the gay community which McKellar estimates to be, in total, only two to four per cent of the Canadian population.
During seven months of hearings at the Justice Committee of the House of Commons, we heard compelling evidence from experts in the fields of anthropology, physiology, psychology, sociology, history, law and religion. These experts argued convincingly that to redefine marriage so as to include gay and lesbian unions would pose several serious threats to the stability of Canadian society.
I implore you, Prime Minister, to familiarize yourself with this evidence and think again about the potential deleterious effects to the Canadian social fabric if you continue to follow those who would so cavalierly and illogically threaten the institution of marriage as Canadians have defined it for the entire history of our nation.
Prime Minister, you stated further that you “have learned over forty years in public life that society evolves”, and you offer this observation as a sort of rationale for your acquiescence in the attempt to redefine marriage, as if this change is somehow inevitable and thereby, transformed into a right which must be defended. Well, Sir, I beg to differ. Consider the evolution of Quebec's society resulting in the separatist movement. Does the change the separatists want make it inevitable and even a right to be defended? I think not, and so must you, based on your courageous fight against the separatists throughout your entire career.
Obviously I do not equate the demand for same sex marriage to the separatist movement, however, I do challenge the specious logic, which says that because both demands represent change, they are somehow inevitable and even desirable. Based on my twenty-three years in public life, I would argue that not all changes that occur in society are either positive or inexorable. Simply because society evolves is not sufficient argument for discarding the traditional definition of marriage and redefining it in a way which is totally illogical, and, to millions of Canadians, immoral.
Finally, Prime Minister, you advise, “at the end of the day, we have to live up to our responsibilities”. On that at least I agree, and that is why, as long as I am a Member of Parliament, I will vote against any and every attempt to redefine marriage.
As leader of the Liberal Party, I would argue that you should follow the clearly expressed will of the party at the Biennial Meeting in March, 2000, when the members of the Liberal Party defeated a motion to endorse recognizing same sex marriage.
Previously, in June, 1999, you were one of 216 M.P.s who voted to uphold the traditional definition of marriage as “one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”. You further voted to take “all necessary steps” to defend that definition. What has changed since that time? Three Ontario Judges in an arrogant, activist ruling instantly redefined marriage thereby deliberately overruling the repeated statements of Parliament in defence of the traditional definition. Now that very judgement and others similar are being used as justification for redefining marriage, as if it was not only inevitable but also somehow just and good. Sadly, you failed to act when called on by many Canadians to appeal that arrogant judicial decision. To millions of Canadians that is unacceptable! To me that was an enormous mistake!
Prime Minister, I call on you now to show real leadership and keep your word to Canadians. You alone have the power to lead. In speaking of the notwithstanding clause--
And I note, Mr. Speaker, that this possibility is now removed from this motion, but it is part of the larger debate.
--in the past you have said that, “there are some situations where it is absolutely needed... without it you leave all decisions in the hands of the courts”. Marriage is the issue and now is the the time to follow your own advice and use the notwithstanding clause to defend marriage.
And I stress: if necessary.
I know my time is short. Tomorrow in the House of Commons I will present petitions from thousands of Canadian citizens who live in southern Ontario. These petitioners will be calling on the Government of Canada to defend the traditional definition of marriage, which is thousands of years old and predates any known state in the history of the world.
The heterosexual understanding of marriage is endorsed overwhelmingly by the five major world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. As well, the two officially atheistic giants, the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China have both supported heterosexual marriage.
Surely there are very sound historical and societal reasons for this common understanding of what marriage is. In my view, it would be both foolish and dangerous to discard the traditional definition of marriage. I cannot in good conscience and I will not support any attempt to redefine marriage.
Like all who have spoken, I could use another 10 minutes, but I know I only have probably about one. I will wrap up with three major arguments. There is the bogus human rights argument. I dealt with that earlier in a question.
There is the question, “Where is the harm?” The member for Burnaby—Douglas puts this question all the time. I do not have time to explain the harm, but we can review the evidence from the experts, some of them even gay and lesbian people themselves who honestly admit that there are very serious consequences for what this government is proposing to do.
Finally, there is the question of following the people under 25 or 30, who are all for doing this, for changing the definition of marriage. As a teacher and student of history, I know that most societies, if not all in the world, have traditionally followed the wisdom of their elders. And the elders in Canada are opposed. I am opposed, and I will vote against redefining marriage.