House of Common's first sat to discuss Bill C23 (MODERNIZATION OF BENEFITS AND
OBLIGATIONS ACT) on Feb 15, 2000. There last day of debate was on April 11, 2000.
The following are extracts from the 5 day debate amongst Canada's Members of Parliament:
McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib):
fundamental tenets of Canadian society - fairness, tolerance, respect and equality
- are touchstones of our national identity and serve to enhance our international
Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.):
People have become increasingly
concerned that the definition of marriage in Canada needs to be strengthened and
protected before the courts because of case rulings one after another that increasingly
suggest that the opposite sex definition of marriage may soon be deemed unconstitutional
by the courts. In the last two years alone, 84 members of the House have presented
petition after petition totalling thousands of names, calling for parliament to
enact legislation to define that marriage can only be entered into between a single
male and a single female.
Some say the last
thing that remains is the full blown establishment of homosexual marriage in Canada
as a normative practice. It becomes somewhat self-evident that sooner or later
the opposite sex definition of marriage will be challenged in the courts. If the
courts can rule that the way Canadians use the word spouse is unconstitutional
and must include a same sex definition of spouse, why could they not rule that
the current definition of marriage is unconstitutional unless it includes same
sex and possibly a variety of other relationships as well?
are here to serve the Canadian people. We should be the people exhibiting integrity
and character as an example to our children. We should exemplify the values that
inspire the youth of our nation but that is not what is happening.
do not think that voting for Bill C-23 sends the right message at all. It sends
a very confusing message. I invite every member of the House to think about the
obligations they have taken on and the commitments they have made to their constituents
who put them here. I invite them to think about the bill and the message they
will send to Canadian youth.
Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve,
"Let us ask ourselves the question. For the second time in less
than a decade, parliamentarians will be voting on the recognition of same sex
spouses. The previous time was in 1995. Yours truly, who was still very green
as a member of parliament, having been elected in 1993, had asked his parliamentary
colleagues to pass a motion asking that the government and the House recognize
same sex spouses. At the time, no more than 55 parliamentarians voted in favour
of the motion. All members of the NDP voted in favour, as did 85% of the members
of the Bloc. What is significant-and I do not mean this to be a breach of our
rules, I mention it strictly for information purposes-is that, except for the
Minister of Canadian Heritage, there were no cabinet members in the House when
the vote took place. I mention this for information purposes, to show the incredible
progress made, resulting in the Minister of Justice, and she is to be commended
for that, coming before the House today with a commitment from cabinet and asking
us to support an act recognizing same sex spouses. The Minister of Justice is
able today to table a bill like this one because of a change brought about by
people speaking out.
The day we debate it,
I will be the first to rise and say there is no reason to limit the institution
of marriage as such to heterosexuals, that it is discriminatory to exclude people
of the homosexual persuasion from the institution of marriage.
well, Bill C-23 is a yardstick by which to measure our society's progress along
the path of tolerance. Not very long ago, in 1994 when I was a new MP, full of
energy, enthusiasm, and idealism, which incidentally I have never lost, I introduced
a very similar bill. That bill likewise proposed to amend all federal laws containing
a heterosexual definition of spouse to include a homosexual one. At the time in
1994 only 52 members supported the bill and only a single member of cabinet, the
then Minister of the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister, the hon. member for
Hamilton East, did so.
It was in 1979 that
the Canadian Human Rights Commission first mentioned that sexual orientation should
be included in the Canadian Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Recognition of same sex couples means recognition of the emotional relationships
openly engaged in by homosexuals. First, we had to stop discriminating on an individual
basis. That is why the first court challenge involved including sexual orientation
in the Canadian Human Rights Act as a prohibited ground of discrimination. I want
those people to clearly understand that the Canadian Human Rights Act is different
from the charter. The charter is part of the Constitution; it is the supreme law
of the land. It was adopted in 1982 under conditions that we all know and that
today's day of celebration prevent me from describing. By contrast, the Canadian
Human Rights Act is an act of parliament. It protects those who receive federal
services or who work in a jurisdiction that comes under the federal government.
I am thinking of course about banks, telecommunications, postal services and all
the other federal jurisdictions.
In 1992, in Haig v. Canada,
the Ontario court of appeal ruled that it was discriminatory and contrary to section
15 of the charter to not recognize sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of
discrimination. At the time, a decision which could have been binding in Ontario
alone was extended to the whole country. Thanks to Kim Campbell, the then Minister
of Justice-whom we remember with fondness-that ruling was made binding across
Canada. Then came Bill C-33. I was here when parliament passed it in 1993. The
then Minister of Justice, the hon. Allan Rock, introduced a bill to amend the
Canadian Human Rights Act, so as to comply with the ruling issued by the Ontario
court of appeal. Following that, a long series of cases were heard by various
courts. There were administrative tribunals, judicial tribunals, which declared
that it was discriminatory for the workplace not to recognize same sex partners
in collective agreements.
Another extremely important
case is the 1995 case, initiated in 1993, of Nesbit-Egan v. Canada. This one needs
particular attention because the supreme court judgment in this case is what has
led to our now needing to read section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms as including sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination.
There was the Rosenberg case, where the Public Service
Alliance of Canada challenged the provisions of the Income Tax Act, which did
not allow same sex spouses to register retirement savings plans in each other's
name or to receive survivor's pensions and allowances. That was discriminatory
treatment. Once again, the courts were extremely receptive and struck down the
provisions of the act which did not allow this recognition. The government was
asked to change the law, and this led to Bill C-78. The Rosenberg case triggered
an important change in the Income Tax Act. However, the bill now before us is
in direct response to the supreme court. This is why I cannot agree with Canadian
Alliance members. Generally speaking, and I say this in all friendship, I tend
to make a point of not agreeing with them. Canadian Alliance members are not too
open-minded when it comes to human rights. We will recall that they voted against
Bill C-33, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act. They also voted against
my private member's bill."
Could someone from
the Canadian Alliance tell me how the fact that a person chooses to live as a
homosexual in society, to engage in an emotional relationship, which the supreme
court said ought to be considered as a conjugal relationship, poses a threat to
the heterosexual community? What makes Canadian Alliance members view Bill C-23
as a threat to traditional families?
I cannot guarantee that 10 or 15 years from now a court of law will not rule that
it is discriminatory to limit the institution of marriage to the heterosexual
community. I do not know, but what I do know is that, if a court of law rules
that marriage is unconstitutional because it is limited to the heterosexual community,
it will not be because of this bill. It will be because of section 15 of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby-Douglas, NDP):
There are those who have lived their lives openly and proudly, often
defying the ostracism of people in their communities who rejected their relationships.
They are the unsung heroes and those who we honour as our leaders. They include
people like Jane Rule and her partner Helen Sonthoff, who just died, and Jim Egan
and his partner Jack Nesbitt, who took to the Supreme Court of Canada the issue
of the recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, who have celebrated their
lives together for over 40 years, and who won a landmark victory in affirming
the inclusion of sexual orientation in our charter of rights. Others who have
taken their fight to the courts include Nancy Rosenberg and her partner; Margaret
Evans and her partner; Stanley Moore and his partner, Pierre Soucy; Dale Akerstrom
and his partner, Alexander; Chris Vogel in Manitoba; Jim Bigney in Nova Scotia;
and Delwin Vriend.
In my opinion, groups that
have historically been the target of discrimination cannot be expected to wait
patiently for the protection of their human dignity and equal rights while governments
move toward reform one step at a time. If the infringement of the rights and freedoms
of these groups is permitted to persist while governments fail to pursue equality
diligently, then the guarantees of the Charter will be reduced to little more
than empty words.
This isn't a matter of special
rights or privileges. It's about recognizing the fullness of diversity within
our communities and facing the fact that Canadian laws need to change in order
to reflect current realities and the equality of all citizens. It's about putting
an end to homophobia and heterosexism. It is about action, not lip service. It's
time for the government to act and to end all forms of discrimination against
lesbian and gay Canadians.
With respect to
the ongoing issue of violence and gay-bashing in our community, there are people
who are beaten up simply because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual
orientation. There are huge concerns about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered
youth who still have levels of suicide, attempted suicide and alienation that
are devastatingly high. These are some of the other issues that we clearly must
address. This bill is not in a position to address them, but when we speak of
full equality we must recognize there is still a lot of work to be done in many
of these areas and the whole area of affirmation of our relationships, the diversity
of our communities and the education system."
is no surprise that many of the Liberals who have spoken out against the bill
are the same Liberals who spoke out against equality in the Canadian Human Rights
Act. I see the member for Scarborough Centre here. He has been very clear. He
does not believe in equality. He voted against it in the human rights act and
he is voting against this bill as well.
I urge all
members of the House to rise above intolerance and homophobia, to reject the campaign
of fearmongering, to appeal particularly to Liberal members to do the right thing,
to recognize the diversity of Canadian families, to recognize that our relationships
as gay and lesbian people are just as loving and just as committed, and that we
should have that choice. To deny us that choice is not only deeply offensive and
demeaning, but I believe is unconstitutional as well.
John McKay (Scarborough
Once again Canadians will not have their say in what they
believe to be the essence of marriage and all the resolutions passed in the House
will not matter at all, which is quite regrettable. A court will once again decide
social policy, which is probably one of the last places one should deal with social
policy. Then the justice minister of the day will introduce a bill amending the
Marriage Act, arguing that he or she had really no choice but to follow the wishes
of the court.
I submit that these are not
equal relationships and should not be regarded as same for the purposes of public
policy. To add common law homosexual relationships to common law heterosexual
relationships and say that they are the same thing in my view is a fallacy.
Bill Graham (Toronto Centre-Rosedale, Lib.):
It does not go as
far as some of my constituents would have liked. For example, there are those
who might have wanted to see crafted some form of matrimonial relationship for
couples of the same sex; but those who would have preferred that solution know
the complexity of this issue as was referred to by my colleague, the minister
from Vancouver. This issue requires political co-operation between the provinces
as do all matters dealing with marriage.
chose to have a charter in this country. We chose to give our courts authority
to interpret our laws. I respect the decisions of those courts because I think
they have fundamentally followed their requirements under the constitution. I
am pleased to say that I think my constituents support the decisions of the courts
too. They support this statute because it is important to gay and lesbian communities
that discrimination be eliminated so they can contribute fully to society. It
is important to send a signal to everyone that discrimination is not a part of
our social fabric. It is also important for society in general.
Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ):
When the bill says that same sex couples should have the same benefits as
opposite sex couples, does this mean that even two men who have been living together
for a period of time could apply to adopt a child? We have all been to school.
Children pick on each other asking questions like Who is your mother? Who
is your father? In the case of two men living together who have adopted
a boy or a girl, is this any kind of example to set the child? If the same benefits,
up to and including the right to adopt children, are provided, I am absolutely
Bryden (Wentworth-Burlington, Lib.):
I also have a problem with
marriage. I do not believe marriage can ever be considered a same sex relationship
because marriage implies the rights of adoption. I would never ever take away
the rights of children in order to satisfy the rights of adults. Until evidence
is to the contrary, and I do not think it will ever occur, I think all things
being equal there is not doubt that heterosexual partners make more appropriate
parents than do same sex partners. So we cannot detract from the rights of children.
Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, BQ):
Every year, complaints
are filed with human rights commissions on the federal or provincial level concerning
discrimination toward homosexuals relating to hiring, firing and treatment in
the workplace. This and other evidence points to discrimination against homosexuals.
Sexual orientation is, unfortunately, a rarely mentioned factor in suicide. Studies
reveal that young people, both male and female, who are homosexual are two to
three times more likely than other young people to commit suicide. More than three-quarters
of these give as the main reason for their suicide attempt the conflicts arising
out of their sexual orientation. This is a clear demonstration of the negative
environment in which homosexuals have to live and grow up.
Grant McNally (Dewdney-Alouette, Canadian
Let us look at the term tolerance. What does the word actually
mean in light of public policy? Tolerance on this topic of same sex benefits would
seem to indicate that the state should not be allowed to intrude on private, consensual
sexual relationships between adults as long as all involved consent and no one
gets hurt. What does the government call tolerance? What does the justice minister
call tolerance? What does she mean by the words tolerance and equality? The minister
believes that no personal sexual arrangement is better than any other, which can
be defined as sexual egalitarianism, and that anyone should be allowed to participate
in whichever arrangements they choose or are predisposed to. That is the first
part of tolerance. In conclusion, the minister goes well beyond this definition
and redefines tolerance to mean social acceptance.
André Bachand (Richmond-Arthabaska,
An older lady told me I remember 25, 30 or 35 years ago,
when my daughter decided to move in with her boyfriend, it was a tragedy. We would
tell them What are you doing? You are living in sin. Such a relationship
is illegal, as evidenced by the fact that the Church opposes it, while the law
does not recognize it. Finally, things have evolved. I think that the discussion
nowadays is much like the discussions that used to take place in Canada and Quebec
and all the provinces about cohabitation-although not quite the same, because
any analogy is imperfect. Do we provide the same benefits? People were afraid
that the sacrament of marriage might disappear if they recognized the existing
Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance):
There can be common law arrangements,
gay arrangements and liaisons of a variety of natures. They are just simply liaisons
and they are different from marriage. They are not marriage.
Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill, Canadian
We just heard a speaker from the New Democratic Party use
words like bigotry, intolerance and hate. When views are expressed from a faith
perspective on behalf of millions of Canadians, whether they are expressed as
temperately as they might be, they have questions that are fair to ask. Labelling
their deeply held values as hate, bigotry, intolerance and reprehensible in a
free and democratic society should be viewed as very troubling. We have an obligation,
whatever our viewpoint, to debate an issue and to approach it in a very reasonable,
logical and temperate way, respecting each other and other viewpoints. To label
viewpoints, as people on both sides of the debate have tended to do, is unfortunate,
unhelpful and destructive in our society. I would urge members of the House to
understand the feelings on both sides of the debate. The feeling of some groups
in society is a feeling of not being treated equally or fairly. Those feelings
are legitimate. We need to be respectful of the concerns of other members of society
about the values that they hold and about the structures of our society.
White (Langley-Abbotsford, Canadian Alliance):
I had the occasion
not too long ago to talk to four young fellows. I knew them all. They were sitting
around and I asked them about Bill C-23. First of all they did not know much about
it. They said, On this conjugal relations stuff, you can say whatever you
want about it, but if the benefit befits us, if it is good for us, we will say
whatever it takes. We will do it.
Reed Elley (Nanaimo-Cowichan, Canadian Alliance):
In moving in this direction, I suggest that this government has given
in once again to the tyranny of the minority. Minority pressure groups in our
society that demand legislative change to legitimize their position do not really
question the morality of it. They are afraid to ask the important question: Is
it really the right thing to do? They simply change the law in the name of equality.
Having equal rights does not make those rights correct or moral. We cannot legislate
equality any more than we can legislate morality. Those are attitudes of the heart
and soul that the government has clearly forgotten about.
Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance):
To tinker with the institution of marriage sends the wrong message
to our young people. Surveys have shown that young people are actually more optimistic
about relationships and starting a family some day than many of their parents.
That optimism is good and needs to be encouraged. Were the institution of marriage
to be changed, we would be sending the wrong message to common law couples who
have children and who are contemplating making a lifelong commitment to each other
in marriage. Obviously many couples who are married today were formerly living
together in common law relationships. At some point they decided to commit themselves
to each other in a greater way, in marriage. This is something to be welcomed
and encouraged. The children in such relationships benefit and society in turn
benefits. Therefore marriage in Canada as currently defined as the union of one
man and one woman to the exclusion of all others accords with the Reform Party,
the Canadian Alliance policy that marriage is the union between a man and a woman
as recognized by the state.
Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills-Grasslands, Canadian
Mr. Speaker, prior to question period I was making the point
that the effects of Bill C-23 are not necessarily benign, although members opposite
would lead us to believe that they are. I would like to point out that for hundreds
of generations and in almost every society I am aware of there have been social
proscriptions against homosexual unions. Now we are more civilized. We do not
attempt, as Mr. Trudeau would say, to interfere in the bedrooms of the nation.
That is fair enough. But we should remember that all through history, heterosexual
unions have been recognized as having a social purpose. They have never been considered
to be purely recreational or even sentimental arrangements. Marriage is the foundation
on which civil society rests. Society extends certain benefits to strengthen and
support the institution. To extend those same benefits to homosexual couples for
no good reason inferentially diminishes the institution. I frankly do not care
how homosexuals choose to organize their lives, but to treat their unions as de
facto marriages is downright silly. That is not just my personal opinion. In June
1994 the present government House leader wrote in a letter to a constituent, I
do not believe that homosexuals should be treated as families. My wife and I do
not claim we are homosexuals. Why should homosexuals pretend that they form a
family? What happened?
Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West-Nepean, Lib.):
The fact is that people establishing committed, loving relationships
of long term duration is to the benefit of society at large. That is what the
bill is about. The bill is about recognizing that not every family is the same.
What has bothered me in this debate is the way we
have been speaking about fellow human beings. It has bothered me a great deal
that we have talked about hundreds of thousands of our fellow Canadians as if
they are somehow inferior human beings. I can put it no other way.
is a fact of life for many Canadians. It is not a choice of lifestyle. It is a
fact of life. It seems to me that the comments I have heard on this topic have
forgotten completely the people we are talking about are somebody's sons, daughters,
fathers, mothers, cousins or next door neighbours. For most of our history these
people have had to live in secret, hiding who they are and feeling a sense of
shame about who they are because of the societal attitudes I have heard expressed
in the Chamber. It is hardly an attitude of inclusiveness toward our fellow Canadians.
It is this attitude which leads young people who realize
in their teens that they are not heterosexual to have a whole layer of difficulty
added on to growing and developing into adults, not because of who they are and
what they are but because of the attitudes of society.
of us can expect to be whole human beings if we are hit every day, as our society
does, with the kinds of messages I have been hearing in the House, the message
that what we are is shameful, to be hidden and despised.
will say it again. These people are somebody's sons, daughters, fathers and mothers.
In my view if what we are doing with the legislation, as we did with common law
marriage nearly a half century ago, is encouraging and recognizing long term committed
relationships I believe that is to the benefit of all society. I do not see how
anyone could argue that this takes away from the institution of marriage. I do
not see how anyone could argue that this weakens the moral fibre of society.
Today I only want to say that to the extent people
live with dignity, they live full and complete lives and our whole society benefits.
What we have done until now is to relegate same sex relationships to the back
alleys of society and in many cases the back alleys of our cities. That is not
healthy for the people involved and it is not healthy for Canadian society.
Pankiw (Saskatoon-Humboldt, Canadian Alliance):
What are we doing
here today? Despite all the problems facing our nation, the government has brought
forward a bill to extend benefits depending on whether or not one is having gay
sex. Is that the depth to which the government has to sink? What about all the
urgent matters facing our nation? No, it is preoccupied with extending benefits
to people who have homosexual sex.
Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale-High Park, Lib.):
We have discussed this legislation with my children. My children do
not understand what the big ado is all about. If there is one legacy I can leave
to my children when I leave Parliament Hill it is the legacy of fairness, non-discrimination
and being taught that it is not fair to discriminate any longer. Intolerance is
not acceptable in Canada or in our Canadian values.
Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.):
is really bothering some people behind this legislation is the ability to impose
their morality on society generally. In other words, things seem to be changing.
This is the way things were. One of the members spoke about her family. I have
been married well over 30 years and have a grown family myself similar to what
she was saying. I discussed this matter with them and they thought this whole
issue was a bit of nonsense and that we were a bunch of old fogeys in the way
we visualize society because society has fundamentally changed in front of us.
I know my mother would be giving me heck for my opinion on this legislation but
I think people's attitudes and views change over time.
John Harvard (Charleswood St. James-Assiniboia,
When I listened to the anti-diluvium reformers across the way,
I find it difficult to understand what I suppose they would construe as their
reasoning. Somehow they believe that if we give homosexual couples in a common
law relationship the same benefits and the same obligations as society has already
given to opposite sex couples in common law relationships, that somehow threatens
the institution of marriage. Madam Speaker, if you could square that circle for
me, I would appreciate it. If I enjoy a privilege or a right and if that is extended
to someone else living in a committed common law relationship, regardless of whether
they are opposite sex or same sex, how that threatens me, my marriage or the institution
of marriage is beyond me. I guess it might be called reform party reasoning, flawed
as it is.
Proctor (Palliser, NDP):
I was intrigued with a book that I picked
up for the first time last night. Justice, Not Just Us is written by Gerald Vanderzande
who is described on the jacket of the book as follows: What he has to say
is always moving and compelling. His words transcend the boundaries between denominations
and faith communities. In urging us to do God's work here and now he demonstrates
the true potential of contemporary religion. If only its practitioners learned
to act in unison.
Gerald Vanderzande has something
to say on this issue and I would like to refer to it briefly. He writes for an
organization called Citizens for Public Justice. He said: Let us now consider
Citizens for Public Justice's position on legal-equality rights for gays and lesbians.
The government encounters a variety of human relationships in our society, including
heterosexual marriages and other social relationships-. When a government does
not recognize, in law or public policy, the reality of other, non-marital relationships
in our society, then, whether we like it or not, the courts are forced to reinterpret
the meaning and scope of marriage within the existing legislation. That means
that other relationships, even though they are non-heterosexual and non-marital,
must be defined-
He goes on to say in this interesting
document: -all people are treated fairly when it comes to the recognition of certain
civil rights and freedoms and the provision of certain services and programs-.
How can we, without discriminating against certain people-recognize the constitutional
and other rights of people who live in other permanent relationships?
Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
I have been particularly offended
by the remarks of members opposite that the bill will hurt children and families.
In fact, just yesterday a member of the opposition in his debate said I
suggest that this government has given in once again to the tyranny of the minority.
We cannot legislate equality any more than we can legislate morality. We
do legislate equality. That is what the charter of rights and freedoms is about.
That is what our constitution is about. That is what the Canadian Human Rights
Act is about. We do legislate equality and every member of the House should stand
to defend the right of equality."
are trying to legislate morality in the House. Let us be very clear about that.
When they do so we have to understand that not only are they attacking gay and
lesbians or same sex couples who are in a common law relationship, they have gone
further than that. They are now attacking the rights of people, whether they be
gay, straight or whatever, in common law relationships.
Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):
the definition of marriage was put forward in the 1880s in Britain's common law
other things were typical about marriage as well. For instance, two races were
not allowed to marry. At that time interracial marriages were illegal. We have
gone beyond that. We have matured and developed to realize that was silly, and
so we chucked it out. At that time it was legal to beat one's wife as long as
one did not use a rod thicker than one's thumb. That was silly. That was obsolete
and had to be dealt with, so we modernized the institution of marriage to toss
out those anachronisms. There is another one we have yet to toss out, the barrier
which so horrifies right wing extremist parties today, same sex unions and same
As to whether the definition
of marriage should be modernized as well, I believe it should. I believe the definition
of marriage that we are currently using, as I said, is from 1880s British common
law. Many things have had to be changed to reflect social morals and so on. I
think it is wrong to even try to legislate morality. That has been made in argument
before. If we read Oliver Wendell Holmes at that same period of time in the 1880s,
he was saying, You can't legislate morality. The state has no business trying
to legislate morality. We can legislate equality, as the hon. member for
Vancouver East pointed out quite correctly, but we cannot legislate morality.
I would say the right wing extremist party in this country has things completely
reversed. Stop trying to legislate morality and admit that it is necessary to
Hedy Fry (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.):
It bothers me that the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan and the hon.
member for Calgary Centre have given statements that they make sound like scientific
fact. There are a couple of very important pieces of stereotyping which are dangerous.
The hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan talked about feminism creating gays and lesbians.
The hon. member talked about the fact that single parent families and divorce
create gays and lesbians in this country. I would like to quote what the hon.
member for Nanaimo-Cowichan said. While it does not bear repeating, it must be
repeated because it shows the extremism of that party. The hon. member said: A
gradual blurring of the sexes occurred that gave young men growing up in many
female dominated, single parent homes an identity crisis. This led to a rise in
militant homosexuality, a coming out of the closet of gay men and women who also
demanded equality. The things that had been considered improper went looking for
a desperate legitimacy. When pressed, the hon. member was unable to explain why
he believes that single mother families encourage militant homosexuality. When
pressed he also said that he did not know the answer to why homosexuals who grew
up with both their father and mother in the home would be less militant. That
spreads hateful messages about other people. It is about a party so set in its
own need to poison people against each other that it will say anything, no matter
whether it is the truth or not.
As a physician,
a parent and a member of parliament, I am extremely concerned about the damage
being done to young gays and lesbians who are beginning to understand their sexuality.
The suicide rate among gay and lesbian youth is extremely high, beginning at the
age of 15 when young people are beginning to understand their sexuality. Those
young people are wondering if they may or may not be gay or lesbian. They are
worried about whether or not they will be accepted.
are now being further marginalized by the members of the Canadian Alliance, the
former Reform Party. I cannot keep up with the name changes in that party. Those
young people are being further marginalized. In a place to which a lot of Canadians
look for truth and honesty, they are being told openly that they are sick. They
are being told that they are some sort of abnormal creature on the face of the
I want to make one final point. I recall
the days when common law relationships were frowned upon. I recall the days when
relationships between people of different religions were frowned upon. I recall
the days when conjugal relationships between people of different colour were frowned
upon. I am glad to see we have finally removed one other barrier that has existed
for so long.
Gay and lesbian families are strong families.
Gays and lesbians are parents. Gays and lesbians are children. They are sisters
and brothers. They are grandparents. I am proud to stand here with my government
to put forward a bill that I believe will probably be the single most important
bill to come forward in this House in the 21st century.
Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ):
"Religion is an individual affair for which I have the greatest respect,
but it must not be imposed on others. On occasion, we must recognize values that
we do not necessarily share but that are held by others who in no way interfere
with or denounce our beliefs. In this sense, I think that this bill corrects the
injustices we are now experiencing and have experienced for a long time. I believe
it is time that we brought our laws into line with reality and the readiness of
Canadians and Quebecers to accept those whose orientation is different but who
are making a contribution to our society, just as they, I and we all do.