Mr. Speaker, before I begin my debate, I would like to take a moment to mention that many members of the Canadian Professional Police Association, the national voice for 54,000 police officers, are in Ottawa today for a lobby day to visit with members of Parliament.
The member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and myself were thrilled to meet this morning with some great Canadians from the Regina Police Association, Darren Wilcox and Christine Tell; the Saskatchewan Police Association, Bernie Eiswirth; and from Estevan, Saskatchewan, an old friend of mine, Jay Pierson. These individuals are examples of excellence in policing and great Canadians.
They are here discussing issues of concern to the nation's police officers. I am sure all members of the House of Commons and all Canadians are proud of our police and appreciate the difficult work they do to keep us all safe. I am wearing their pin today as a symbol of my appreciation.
The issue of marriage is of great public importance to the people of Canada and of Palliser. Over the past number of weeks we have heard a great deal of debate on this subject. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute both my own thoughts and the input I have received from the people of Palliser on the question of marriage that is before us today.
I am also proud to stand here today as a member of the Conservative Party. Our party along with the majority of Canadians believe we must find a middle ground when it comes to the question of marriage, taking into account the demands by same sex couples for fair treatment under the law.
Thus, the position held by the Conservative Party is the position of the people of Palliser and it is the position of Canadians. I am fortunate to be a member of a political party that respects the rights and traditions of Canadians. I thank my Conservative colleagues, especially the leader of the official opposition, who have put forward compelling arguments in the House of Commons for us to consider.
Before getting into the substance of the bill before us, I would also like to thank the thousands of my constituents in Palliser who have contacted me with their thoughts on this issue. The will of voters in Moose Jaw, Regina, Pense, Mossbank, Caronport, Avonlea and countless communities throughout Palliser, has certainly informed my thoughts on this matter and I am grateful for the input that they have provided. It is their views and wishes that I represent here today in the House of Commons.
Let me be clear that I stand alongside the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the Conservative Party, in stating that I support the traditional definition of marriage as that of a union between a man and a woman and that I will vote against the Liberal government when this matter comes before the House. However let me also state clearly that I strongly support the Conservative Party's position on this question because, along with our support for traditional marriage, the Conservative Party supports civil unions for same sex couples.
The question before us today is how to find a balance. How do we balance competing interests? How do we balance the need to safeguard the rights of religious institutions with the request by same sex couples for equal recognition? How do we say to gays and lesbians that they are equal as Canadians and yet reassure the majority of Canadians that we respect their belief in the sanctity of marriage. These are difficult questions but they are not without answers.
As the people of Palliser have told me again and again, we need to preserve the definition of marriage that is traditionally accepted by Canadians and balance it against the legitimate desire of same sex couples to be recognized as equals and have their unions officially recognized. To do that we need to find a compromise position, a position that rejects the heavy-handed manner in which the Liberal Party has approached the issue and a position that rejects the dogmatic anti-democratic manner of the leader of the NDP who will not even allow his own members to vote their conscience or to vote according to the will of their constituents on this issue.
It is incumbent upon us in Parliament to find a compromise position and balance the interests of Canadians. The courts have been ruling on this issue for a number of years. Following several provincial rulings on the definition of marriage, the Liberal government drafted--