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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was lumber.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Independent MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions April 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to present today. The first two petitions relate to the subject of marriage.

The petitioners note that the traditional definition of marriage in this country has been changed by certain lower courts but not by the Supreme Court of Canada. The petitioners call on Parliament to define in law marriage as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

The other two petitions that I have also relate to the subject of marriage. The petitioners note that marriage has traditionally been defined as the union of one man and one woman in Canada and throughout all civilizations across many cultures and different religious heritages. The petitioners call on Parliament to use all possible legislative steps to protect the current definition of marriage.

I am very pleased to present these petitions. I fully agree with them of course.

Marriage April 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, in June 2003, the work of the justice committee on marriage was totally pre-empted when the Government of Canada refused to appeal the ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal which incredibly and instantly redefined marriage in Ontario.

Will the Minister of Justice ask the recently formed legislative committee on Bill C-38 to hold meaningful public hearings to receive important input by Canadian organizations and individuals?

Parliament of Canada Act March 23rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, I wish to be recorded as voting no to the motion.

Petitions February 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition which calls on the Government of Canada to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

The petitioners decry the fact that in a court-driven process, on what amounts to a radical experiment in social engineering, the government seems bent on changing the definition of marriage. They call upon the government to reverse this course and to reverse it right now.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his questions but I only wish he had been part of the justice committee that I sat on, because most of those red herrings were put there. With all due respect, they are red herrings and I will attempt to address them now.

First of all, I did not indicate that the sole criterion for true marriage was procreation. He will want to read my speech to verify the accuracy of what I said.

I quoted Judge Gonthier and I will quote him again for the member:

The fundamental nature of marriage inheres in, among other things, its central role in human procreation....

It is one of the central roles of a true marriage. It is not the only role or only criterion. The member misunderstood what I said there.

As for the argument that because some heterosexual couples cannot procreate or choose not to procreate, to bring that into this is simply a red herring. That does not invalidate those marriages. The reality is that a heterosexual couple is still a procreative unit by the very nature of the act of sexual intercourse, whether or not they themselves can or choose to procreate.

However, the important difference is this: never will a homosexual relationship or a homosexual so-called marriage ever result in procreation without the intervention of a third party. That is the major distinction between the two types of relationships.

The member mentions that I am a practising Catholic and that is true, but the point is that this is not a Catholic issue. The largest number of my constituents who have consistently spoken to me on this issue are Muslims.

Yes, the Catholic church and Catholic leaders and practising Catholic lay people are concerned, but so are they of every major faith in the world and so are Canadians of no particular faith; they are very concerned about changing the definition of the most fundamental institution in this society, marriage and the family.

In my speech, and I will be glad to talk to the member about it later, I quoted expert after expert, some of them gay and lesbian people themselves, who speak directly to the negative consequences in the long term of such a reckless course of action as this government seems determined to pursue.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I too recall fondly the hearings we participated in, except for the farcical way in which they were ended with the pre-emption of the committee report by the incredibly arrogant ruling of three Ontario judges, who, with a snap of the fingers, instantly redefined marriage. It was shockingly arrogant.

I will tell my colleague that I certainly do share the concerns about the so-called guarantees of religious freedom. Let me be clear, though, that religious leaders in Canada have been very clear about the fact that even if so-called guarantees are airtight they have every right to speak out in this debate. As for this nonsense about the separation of church and state, I do not know who dreamed that up, but they need to read some Canadian history. That does not preclude people who have religious values or who are religious leaders from having their say in this debate.

On the question of the guarantees, I would not be very reassured if I were a religious official in this country. First of all, the court indicated that it is largely a provincial jurisdiction and that the federal government cannot in fact have jurisdiction in that area.

We have already seen the move against what is termed “abuse of facilities” in regard to the Knights of Columbus hall. The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic men's organization. I am proud to say that I am a member of that organization. There is already an attempt to insist that its facilities be made available for a celebration of a same sex wedding or at least be involved in that ceremony.

Here is what I think, given the track record of the courts in this country over the last number of years. We heard this at committee, as my colleague will remember. In case after case after case, when religious freedoms clashed with so-called gay rights, the courts in this country caved in to the gay rights lobby.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, in my nearly 12 years here this is the first time that I was speaking just before question period and had to conclude my remarks following question period. Given that, I will take the opportunity to reiterate a couple of the key points I tried to make in my earlier comments.

First of all, I quoted judgments by two judges, one from B.C. and one from Quebec, who ruled in favour of the heterosexual requirement for marriage. I addressed the false analogy that so many people draw between the women's rights movement and the black civil rights movement and the attempt to equate them to same sex marriage. That is a patently false analogy. It is only through a misreading of history and specious logic that someone could come up with such a conclusion. Many women in Canada and black people, including personal friends whom I know very well, find that highly insulting.

I quoted three gay or lesbian people who gave very eloquent testimony against changing the definition of marriage and who spoke directly to the deleterious effects that such a move would have. Harvard University Professor William Eskridge, John McKellar here in Canada, and lesbian theorist Ladelle McWhorter all spoke eloquently and persuasively against changing the definition or marriage. They spoke directly to the negative consequences that would quite likely flow from such a ridiculous course of action.

I took on the human rights argument that is central to the position of so many of the people who are proponents of this. I noted that proponents of same sex marriage cannot point to a single national or international judgment that same sex marriage is a human right. They cannot point to a single one. They can point to several lower court decisions in this country, but they cannot point to the Supreme Court of Canada speaking to question four because it deliberately did not speak to question four on the constitutionality of the definition of marriage as we know it.

The Prime Minister further stated that we cannot return to the past, that is, retain the traditional definition of marriage, with a simple snap of the fingers. Recall that incredibly it was a simple snap of the legal fingers of three judges in Ontario that instantly redefined marriage in June 2003. This shockingly arrogant ruling is an insult to the people and Parliament of Canada.

At that time as I served on the justice committee I called for this ruling to be appealed by the federal government. The failure to do so is clearly the reason the Supreme Court refused to address itself to the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage, which as I noted is question four in the reference to the court. At that time, June 2003, the justice committee hearings were reduced to a pathetic farce. That time should be recorded as one of the most disgraceful and duplicitous moments in the history of our parliamentary deliberations as a nation. It was also the quintessence of judicial activism at its worst.

I again call on the Prime Minister to extend to all Liberal members of Parliament, including cabinet ministers, a free vote of conscience. This is not a mundane piece of legislation. It is one of the most important decisions any Canadian Parliament has made or will make. It offends the core moral beliefs of many MPs, including ministers. All members should be free to vote their conscience without coercion or penalty.

As I close, let me say that for me there is a higher truth and a greater judge than any we will find in the courts of Canada or any earthly court. Our courts do not have a monopoly on truth. Our charter, though important, is not sacrosanct. The government, pushed by the courts, is making a very serious mistake in a reckless and headlong rush to redefine marriage to the point that in Canada the word could become virtually meaningless.

This court driven radical experiment in social engineering could have incalculable negative long term effects on marriage and the family to the detriment of Canadian society. For me, this is an issue much more important than mere party politics. It goes directly to the heart of who I am and what I believe.

While all persons no matter what their sexual orientation deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, that does not mean we must imperil the future of true marriage so as to satisfy the illogical and immoral demand for same sex marriage.

The eyes of the nation are on us as we engage in this important debate. I believe the eyes of our ancestors and our dear deceased loved ones are also on us at this historic time. The real question is, will we betray the precious legacy of marriage and the family that they left us? Will we so easily and carelessly discard that precious legacy so as to reconstruct marriage into something it was never meant to be? I answer, no. And so here I stand to bear witness to the truth about marriage.

Therefore, I cannot vote for this legislation in good conscience. I will vote against this legislation. I feel compelled to do all I can to defeat Bill C-38.

As I close, let me say that this is an emotional and difficult issue for many Canadians, including me and my family. I want to express my gratitude to the many people who have offered me their support and prayers as, in cooperation with so many others, I have attempted to defend the traditional definition of marriage. I especially thank my wife, Evelyn, for her unwavering encouragement and steadfast love.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I want to be very clear that absolutely no one in my party sought to vet my speech in any way. What I say today are my own words and I will stand by them.

This debate is truly an historic occasion for what is at stake is the future of the most vital institution in our nation, marriage and the family. Bill C-38, if enacted, will change the definition of marriage in Canada to include same sex couples. The bill states, “Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”

This proposed definition is one that both I and my wife Evelyn, and millions of other Canadians find unnecessary, illogical and morally offensive. Opponents include members of every political party and no political party, of every faith and of no particular faith. Same sex marriage is an oxymoron because it denies the heterosexual prerequisite of true marriage. It is a real threat to marriage and the family which is the basic foundation of all human societies.

Mr. Justice Gonthier in the December 19, 2002, Supreme Court of Canada decision of Nova Scotia v. Walsh states:

Marriage and the family existed long before any legislature decided to regulate them. For centuries they have been central to society, contributing to its social cohesion and fundamental structure...Marriage and the family promote the psychological, social and economic well-being of all members of the family unit...The fundamental nature of marriage inheres in, among other things, its central role in human procreation...Marriage and family life are not inventions of the legislature; rather, the legislature is merely recognizing their social importance.

Rather than attacking marriage in a misguided effort to treat same sex couples fairly, our courts and our governments should be protecting the institution of marriage and defending the traditional definition.

In October 2001, in a decision which upheld the opposite sex requirement of marriage, Mr. Justice Pitfield of the supreme court of British Columbia emphasized the fundamental role of marriage when he stated:

The state has a demonstrably genuine justification in affording recognition, preference, and precedence to the nature and character of the core social and legal arrangement by which society endures...The gain to society...of the deep-rooted and fundamental legal institution of opposite-sex marriage outweighs the detrimental effect of the law on the petitioners.

In other words, traditional marriage is a unique and vital relationship on which the future of humanity depends. As such, it does not offend the charter to treat this special relationship in a preferential manner. True marriage results in the unifying act of sexual intercourse and is reproductive in type.

Robert P. George addresses this point in his article “Same Sex Marriage and Moral Neutrality”: He states:

What most of the proponents of same-sex marriage fail to realize is that the unity of spouses is distinct from any other kind of unity. What makes it distinct is the reproductive-type act, whereby a man and a woman become a single reproductive principle. This distinction makes marriage intrinsically ordered to the good of procreation as well to the good of spousal unity, and these goods are tightly bound together.

Repeatedly one hears that same sex marriage is a matter of human rights or minority rights and that to prohibit same sex relationships from being called marriage is unfairly discriminatory under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A plethora of public opinion polls shows that Canadians are divided on this point about evenly. Expert opinion is certainly divided even in the legal community.

As others have noted, those who claim same sex marriage is a human right cannot point to a single ruling by any national or international court, including the United Nations, or indeed by a human rights tribunal to support those arguments. Some people have even tried to draw an analogy between the women's rights and the black civil rights movements with the demand for same sex marriage. This analogy is utterly false. However well-intentioned its proponents, only by a misreading of history and the use of specious logic can one possibly arrive at such a patently false conclusions

Millions of Canadian women and many black persons, including personal friends of mine, feel insulted by this false analogy. To equate their legitimate demands for equal and just treatment consistent with natural moral law with the illegitimate demands for same sex marriage in contravention of natural moral law is illogical. It is equally illogical to argue that the natural extension of protecting individual rights of gays, which I and most Canadians support, is that two gays in a sexual relationship somehow have the right to co-op the term marriage to describe their relationship. The charter does not speak to group rights, even a group of two people. Rather, it speaks solely and exclusively to individual rights.

It should be noted that some gays and lesbians are most eloquent and persuasive opponents of same sex marriage. Consider the words of John McKellar, Executive Director of HOPE, Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism, who has stated:

--[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...

I certainly agree with Mr. McKellar and with Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, who states:

--the issue is one of the common good of society, rather than one of individual rights. We have seen, in the last few decades, factors that have led to the devaluing of marriage, such as the increase in common-law unions and more lax divorce laws. Our concern is that this change in the definition will further devalue marriage.

The proponents of same sex marriage argue that no harm will be done to marriage and society if marriage is reconstructed to include same sex relationships. They note that gays and lesbians are being married in much of Canada currently and the sky has not fallen. Such facile and simplistic arguments totally ignore considerable expert advice which warns about the future long term erosion of marriage and the family if we surrender to the same sex lobby.

Lesbian theorist Ladelle McWhorte argues that if gay people are:

--allowed to participate as gay people in communities and institutions [heterosexuals] claim as theirs, our presence will change those institutions and practices enough to undermine their preferred version of heterosexuality and, in turn, they themselves will not be the same.

Yale University's expert legal theorist William Eskridge, an openly gay man, candidly concedes that:

Gay experience with “families we choose” delinks family from gender, blood, and kinship. Gay families of choice are relatively ungendered, raise children that are biologically unrelated to one or both parents, and often form no more than a shadowy connection between the larger kinship groups.

McGill University Professor Daniel Cere argues that the recent judgments in favour of same sex marriage are based on a vision which would disconnect children from their natural parent and that parenthood is reduced to nothing more than a functional activity separate from procreation.

If Bill C-38 becomes law, I sincerely hope these experts are wrong. However, the unmistakeable lesson of history is that they are right.

The legislation reconfirms the existing guarantee of religious freedom by which religious officials cannot be made to officiate at wedding ceremonies in contravention of their religious beliefs. So far, and with good reason, religious authorities in Canada do not feel very reassured on this point. It is easily predictable that this so-called guarantee will be challenged by gay and lesbian activists in a variety of ways. Given the track record of our Canadian courts, whenever religious freedom has clashed with supposed gay rights, it is all too obvious that religious leaders should be very concerned.

Religious leaders and Canadians who embrace religious values not only have the right but the duty to speak out in this debate. This is our country too, and we have every right to oppose this most serious threat to the cornerstone of our society: marriage and the family. The argument that we must be silent as per some erroneous and nebulous notion of the separation of church and state displays an incredible ignorance of Canadian history and the very founding of this nation in 1867.

In light of the inexorable judicial activism we have witnessed in the post-charter years, it seems clear to me that ultimately there is only one way to preserve the traditional definition of marriage: the use of the notwithstanding clause. The Leader of the Opposition argues that there is a way to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, short of using the notwithstanding clause. I will not repeat his arguments, but if his opinion proves to be legally correct, I will gladly support such a course of action. Millions of other Canadians would surely agree as well. For me, the use of the clause should be a last resort on vital issues and if it proves to be the only option, I support using it.

The Prime Minister argues that the use of the notwithstanding clause in this case would imperil the rights of all minorities who, in future, could find themselves threatened by the use of the clause to deny them their rights. Again, this argument equates the illegitimate demand for same sex marriage to the legitimate demand of other minorities for equal rights. With all due respect to the Prime Minister, it is illogical, hyperbolic and rather less than convincing to millions of Canadians, including legal experts.

May I remind those critics who vilify this clause, that it is section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, it can be argued that without this clause, the charter would never have been agreed to by the political leaders of Canada in 1981. Therefore, should there prove to be no other option, I call again on the Prime Minister to invoke this clause and defend the only logical and valid definition of marriage, the traditional definition.

The Prime Minister further has stated that we cannot return to the past, that is, retain the traditional definition of marriage “with a simple snap of the fingers”. Recall that incredibly it was a simple snap of the legal fingers of three judges in Ontario that instantly redefined marriage in June 2003. This shockingly arrogant ruling is an insult to the people and Parliament of Canada. At that time, as I served on the justice committee, I called for the ruling to be appealed by the federal government. The failure to do so is clearly the reason that the Supreme Court refused to address itself to the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage, which was question four in the reference to the court. Surely that time, when the justice committee hearings were reduced to a pathetic farce, should be recorded as one of the most disgraceful and duplicitous moments in the history of our parliamentary deliberations as a nation. It was also the quintessence of judicial activism at its worst.

I further call again on the Prime Minister to extend to all Liberal members of Parliament, including cabinet ministers, a free vote of conscience. This is no mundane piece of legislation. It is one of the most important decisions any Canadian Parliament has made or will make.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I listened to my learned colleague and, indeed, I enjoyed serving with him on the justice committee when we went through the hearings on same sex marriage.

Does he support section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, otherwise known as the notwithstanding clause? I would recall for him that he comes from a province where that very clause has been used. I would frankly like to hear his view. Does he support the presence of the clause in the charter at all?

Also, in terms of the clash of rights between religious freedoms and so-called gay rights, as a lawyer, surely he is aware, is he not, that in the last number of years, whenever those rights have clashed, religious freedoms have been trumped in each and every case by so-called gay rights? I would like to have his comments on that.

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, let me congratulate the member on a good speech. I thought it was very well presented. There was one point that caused me concern though, and if I heard it correctly, I would like to ask her about that.

She seemed to indicate that a same sex relationship was equally valuable to society as a heterosexual marriage. If I heard it correctly, I would take issue with that. I would quote Judge Gonthie who stated in his ruling that “The fundamental nature of marriage inheres in, among other things, its central role in human procreation”.

I would note for her that her colleague from Calgary Southwest, with whom I completely agree, has indicated that while there can be recognition in law for same sex relationships, it is quite a stretch to suggest that a same sex relationship, which can never result in procreation without the unnatural involvement of a third person, is as socially valuable to us as heterosexual relationships. Could she clarify that?