Mr. Speaker, today, as parliamentarians we each bring to the floor of the House a condensation of the myriad heartfelt expressions from the nation's citizens on this subject of marriage. I pray that the product that is distilled from the debate today will be positive and not toxic or debilitating to the future health of our country, its families and its people.
I find it somewhat curious that some in this debate have said that we should not even be dealing in Parliament with anything at all that has a religious connotation, notwithstanding the fact that marriage of course is supported by those of a religious or non-religious view.
Let us consider our history. From aboriginal spiritual beliefs to the spiritual declarations of our first explorers, to recent changes of Canada's Constitution, we see that it is the rule, not the exception, that we allow religious expression and views in all places. Canada's constitutional founders and framers, in pre-1867 Charlottetown discussions, accepted the suggestion of an Atlantic Canadian premier that our nation's motto should be taken from the Bible, from the book of Psalms, chapter 72, verse 8, which says, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea”. And so it remains today on Canada's coat of arms right here in the House of Commons, and in courtrooms and classrooms across the country.
The granite foundations of this very building, the Peace Tower, have scripture verses carved into them. When our Constitution was repatriated, an important phrase was placed in its preamble declaring Parliament as “recognizing the supremacy of God”. That is in the preamble of our Constitution. Our national anthem rings forth the prayerful plea “God keep our land”. At the beginning of every day right here in Parliament, Mr. Speaker, you lead us in public prayer.
Given these past and present historical realities of our nation, respected by believers and non-believers alike, let us please dispel this notion that religious expressions or reflections on the topic of marriage or on any other issue should be prohibited.
There is a book in the parliamentary library entitled Religion, the missing dimension of statecraft which is very helpful on this subject. One of several reasons that Bill C-250 is so ill advised, intolerant and dangerous is that it could be used to squash freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this regard. As a matter of fact, on the question of changing the meaning of marriage, it should be noted that the narrowly activist views of the member for Burnaby--Douglas are not even representative of the 3% of our population who claim to be homosexual. Official statements have come forth from representatives of the homosexual community who believe the definition of marriage should be left intact and not changed at all. It is important to note that this activist assault on marriage is not even unanimously supported by the homosexual community.
It brings me to the matter of people whether we are talking about people who have a religious or non-religious persuasion. People are being described as hateful or homophobic because they disagree with the homosexual lifestyle or because they want to see the marriage definition left alone. Many people have been intimidated into silence out of the fear of being stung with these labels and accusations.
On the other side of the ledger, I have seen books, articles and seminars which decry marriage as hateful and evil, and as a dangerous institution. While I profoundly disagree with that position, I will never try to legislate into silence those who propagate such a view, and nobody should.
Let us look at the trend that is developing. It is deplorable that a school teacher in British Columbia has been savaged because he made public in a newspaper his views about homosexuality. School board members in Surrey have been verbally and legally attacked because they voted not to expose grade one children to homosexual literature and other examples abound. This quasi-legal bullying has taken place without the added clout of Parliament or the Supreme Court trashing the heterosexual definition of marriage.
Imagine the programs of compulsory social reprogramming that will befall proponents of heterosexuality should we erringly vote today to change the clear meaning of marriage. This forced culturalization is taking place now with those who err in the area of political correctness, and it is happening with a vengeance in other jurisdictions also. It can happen here further. Let us not encourage that by changing the definition of marriage in our Parliament today.
Further to the question of definition is the incumbent lack of definition of what may evolve months or years from now as marriage itself is redefined, given the total lack of definition of the term sexual orientation. I have asked for definitions of that term and cannot get that definition.
Critics sneer at those who suggest that an open-ended definition of marriage would soon result in legal challenges from those demanding the right to legal recognition of other types of partnerships such as multi-partner marriage, either on religious grounds or for reasons of orientation. That concern that some have raised should not be derided or dismissed. Those demands are already in fact on our doorstep. As a legislator, I have already sat and received a presentation made to me with that request, for the change in the definition of marriage to allow multi-partner marriages.
In Canada, on this matter of rights, adults and in some cases children as young as 14 years old already have the right to cohabit in any consensual relationship they want. Same sex benefits apply in most union and corporate contracts already. Quebec has a domestic relations act. Alberta has a civil unions act. Ontario and other provinces make similar provisions already for same sex unions. This should cause even less compulsion and not more by the activists who want to change the definition of marriage. It does make one wonder, what is the real agenda driving this tiny group of activists?
While on the topic of activism, we need to address the matter of the courts. Our present system of democratic and judicial checks and balances has been widely predicated on some realities, first the reality that human beings are imperfect and at times human beings will choose to do what is wrong and in pursuit of their own freedoms they will rob others of their freedoms.
Society also recognizes that human beings, as being created by God, have certain rights which need to be protected. Along with that there is an awareness that there will always be demagogues who believe they can create utopia on earth by enforcing their particular system on society as a whole. Marxism and Fascism represent two such examples.
Not perfect but in a fairly good attempt to deal with these realities, western democracies devised a somewhat ingenious yet utilitarian way of parliamentary democracy whereby elected citizens would make the laws while the courts would rule on those who break the laws, laws given to the courts by the elected legislative assemblies.
Judges would be protected from political and mob intimidation by being given long tenures of service and citizens would be protected from out of touch law makers by having the electoral power on a regular basis to throw them out of office and elect those who would create better laws or repeal bad ones.
This somewhat precarious social equilibrium has served us fairly well up until the last couple of decades. Following a disturbing international trend, Canadian judges are increasingly upsetting the social apple cart by taking it upon themselves to read into existing legislation things which were never intended by the elected framers of that legislation.
This lack of respect for the democratic process is unfortunately resulting in a growing lack of public respect for the judicial process and that trend, if it continues to go unchecked, will move us dangerously down the road to social anarchy. Along with that, citizens will wonder why we bother with elected democracy at all if a small group of selected, unelected and protected people are making all the decisions.
It has been unsettling enough to see courts telling governments what they can or cannot do on items such as reducing taxes or providing social benefits. The trend is now at its zenith as many of us watch in awe as unelected judges take it upon themselves to order parliaments to change the legal and dictionary definition of marriage.
Just as an aside, in talking to editors of the Oxford dictionary, they have no intention whatsoever to change the age old definition of marriage. They recognize better than the courts and some politicians that the definition of marriage predates governments, religious systems and in fact the written word.
We must restore the balance to our judicial and democratic process, and today we must stand for what we know to be true about the effect on society of marriage. History is clear, as cited by Toynbee and others, that no civilization has ever survived a societal decision to cease protecting and promoting this thing we call marriage, the legal, unique definition of a union between a man and a women.
I make these comments today encouraged by the majority view of my constituents and by the phrase in our Canadian constitution imploring me to recognize the supremacy of God and the conviction deep in my heart that Canada will not be able to handle financially or socially the effects and consequences of a parliamentary or judicial decree putting an end to marriage as we know it.
May we keep these things in mind as we debate this. May God keep our land.