Mr. Speaker, I rise today with pleasure to support the concerns of my constituents and to take their position in speaking in opposition to Bill C-38. I would like to encourage my friend from Hochelaga to take a closer look at the Conservative position on this issue because it deals directly with his concerns. I would suggest that if he were to look closer at it, he would be prepared to adopt our position.
I stand in surprise that I am in agreement with two Liberal members, specifically from Mississauga South and Scarborough Southwest. I would suggest that my friend from Fundy—Royal, who is also on the committee that studied Bill C-38, did an excellent job today in summing up the findings of the committee, in fact speaking about some of the procedural difficulties with that committee.
The institution of marriage was created for the purpose of procreation and nurturing children of the union. After listening to many of the experts who came forward at committee, I am greatly concerned that the committee has not had a thorough analysis of the issues and has not drawn enough attention to what I consider to be the voice that has no voice, and that is the children of future generations of Canadians. I am greatly concerned about the children of our future, as they must be protected.
A stable home with a mother and father is the foundation of our civilization. Although it cannot in today's age always be attainable, it is something that we should work toward and maintain and keep secure.
I would like to begin by summarizing my position and state emphatically that the bill is about social policy. It is not about charter rights and in no way can it be expressed that the definition of marriage itself is an inalienable human right. I have argued constitutional and charter cases protecting minority rights in northern Alberta. I have immediate family members who are members of visible minorities, including the homosexual community, Métis and treaty communities. This is why I will not support any legislation that infringes upon the rights of any Canadian. I believe Bill C-38 will do so.
I believe in this case the Government of Canada is taking one group's position over another group's position and is therefore infringing upon the rights of that other group. I believe strongly that the Charter of Rights must be respected and the rights of all minorities must be protected, not just the rights of the homosexual community but also the rights of the heterosexual community, especially religious groups, and the rights of children, which must be of paramount concern in this case. That is why I support the traditional definition of marriage.
I have risen in the House before and given this same argument, but I like the argument so I will give it again. I believe words have three parts: the first is the word itself; the second is the meaning that describes the word; and the third are the rights and obligations that flow from the word. I believe the word “marriage” is no different from that and it is no exception. It identifies a group of individuals within our society. In this case the group that it describes is the relationship between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others in a state-recognized contract, nothing more, nothing less.
It is my position that the rights and obligations that flow from this word need to be extended to other groups that have not even been a part of this discussion, other minority groups that are not protected. I would submit those other groups should receive not only the rights of married couples, but also the obligations of married couples which are so obviously and continuously ignored.
As the leader of the official opposition has stated time after time, we must respect all Canadians regardless of sexual orientation. All couples who apply for solemnization of their relationship should receive that respect and the rights and obligations of married couples. However, this can be done without changing the definition of marriage.
I also believe we should send a clear message of protecting minority rights to another minority, and that is the minority of common-law couples who have been in cohabitation for a certain period of time. Some provinces in Canada currently do this, but this is a place where we as legislators should move forward and protect the rights of individuals which are at this stage taken for granted.
Each of these groups, though, should be defined individually. Let us face it, the relationship is different between a man and a man, a man and a woman and a woman and a woman. All these groups should have the same rights and obligations under the law and should be respected equally.
In terms of protecting rights, it is also my belief that as members of this House we must protect the rights of those who have already entered into marriage, believing that it is a contract between them with specific terms. We must protect the rights of those people who have no voice, who have no vote here today and have no vote even to elect us as members. They are the future generations of children who have been ignored by the legislation and will be the cost of our society.
Protecting rights is a dual obligation though. Just as with every right comes a corresponding obligation, receiving a right can sometimes infringe upon other people's rights and expectations. Respect works both ways. If Bill C-38 is passed, there is no question that we will infringe dramatically on the rights of people and groups within our society.
If we want our beliefs respected, then we should respect others, but it is reciprocal and they should respect our beliefs as well. With mutual respect comes the end of bigotry, hate and prejudice, and this is what I seek: a utopia where we can all get along, not just in Canada but in the entire world.
The Conservative Party is calling for a free vote. I would challenge the members opposite to allow their members, even the members of the government, to have a free vote so they can express and take the ramifications of their decisions on that final day, election day, when it does come.
We in the Conservative Party respect the supremacy of Parliament. I believe we should respect the will of Canadians and vote that way while at the same time protect minorities. With the agenda and policy that Conservatives have put forward, that can be done.
In my constituency of Fort McMurray--Athabasca in northern Alberta, I had less than 12 responses in favour of same sex marriages. I had almost 2,000 responses wanting the traditional definition of marriage maintained but at the same time protecting the rights of all society and all groups in society.
We have taken a reasonable compromise position that should be more thoroughly analyzed. I believe and would suggest that it would protect the rights of minorities. At the same time, it would be consistent with the views of a vast majority of Canadians. We want to recognize the traditional definition of marriage without detracting from the rights and obligations of people in same sex relationships.
Here is a reminder. After hearing evidence at committee, it is obvious that 99% of the world's population continues to honour the traditional definition of marriage. That means 99% of the world, except for Canada, possibly and a few other nations in the world, take the position of the Conservative Party.
We want to create the status of civil union. I would suggest to the party opposite that it is not too late to recognize civil unions but at the same time give identical rights to all groups. With Bill C-38 passing, I foresee serious threat to religious freedoms, more serious than I thought originally before I sat in the committee. I believe charitable statuses will be taken away, that it will affect the ability to preach sacred text and ultimately force the change to the text itself, including the Bible and the Quran. I can see that in the near future being part and parcel of passing Bill C-38. It will simply not protect religious freedoms or religious institutions.
Finally, the Conservative Party represents the only middle ground, the only compromise position on the debate from any political party. Canada's law should reflect the priorities of Canadian society while protecting the rights of all minorities. We should be following the will of Canadians. We are elected and we are answerable to them, so why are we not following the will of Canadians?
The Conservative Party has proved that we will respect both sides of the debate and all Canadians equally. Now it is time for other members of the House and other Canadians to do the same. In 25 or 50 years, when Canada reaps what it sows from this Liberal same sex social experiment, Canada and Canadians will be able to look back and see that we in the Conservative Party had the best interests of Canada in our hearts, our minds and our words.
My opinion is the terms of reference of the Bill C-38 legislative committee were a farce. With respect to how it was run, I believe the timeframes were ridiculous, the witnesses and the research materials were impossible to logically study. The time and the witnesses were quite frankly disrespected because they did not have time to prepare and provide proper analyses.
It is obvious to me that although the rule of law and due process are requirements of all Canadians, the courts and tribunals, it is not necessary in this House of Commons and it is shameful. The House is supposed to represent the people of Canada. Those Liberals in control of this agenda should be absolutely ashamed of how it was run.