Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Five

Yesterday, the House of Commons resumed debate on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Once again I'm going to summarize the positions of MPs who spoke on this bill, including links to their parliamentary websites in case you want to contact them.

Since people are starting to speak on this for the second time, I've left them out if I've already recorded their positions, unless they've changed their minds. (You can find the previous recordings here, here, here and here.)


Hon. Paul Harold Macklin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Pro. He's spoken on this before, and now he wants this to go ahead to committee. He considers the idea of civil unions akin to second-class status: "rights are rights are rights." He doesn't think it's possible to restore the traditional definition of marriage without resorting to the notwithstanding clause.

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Pro. Her constituents are divided on the issue. She considers the bill an issue of individual rights: as long as other people's rights aren't violated, it isn't for her to judge if a same-sex marriage has less value than a traditional one. The right to be called married is at the core of this bill.

Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Nepean—Carleton, CPC): Con. His constituents want a balanced position on the question of marriage. He accuses the Liberals of dividing the country over the issue. He respects people in non-traditional relationships as well as their rights, but it doesn't require changing the definition of marriage.

Mr. Jim Prentice (Calgary Centre-North, CPC): Pro. There's a wide divergence of opinion in his riding. He finds the Supreme Court reference gives sufficient distinction between religious and civil marriage; while he's concerned that the provinces need to pass legislation protecting the religious rights of marriage commissioners, the bill doesn't violate freedom of religion. He believes that recognizing same-sex marriage doesn't violate the rights of others.

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Con. He finds that the courts have trashed the institution of marriage in their rulings. He believes this bill to be peculiar because its clause on religion has no power, and that its definition of marriage has no real defining characteristics. For an institution that has a history, a purpose, and a tradition, he finds the intent of the bill to be reducive in nature, which is a sad thing.

Mr. John Cummins (Delta—Richmond East, CPC): Con. He supports the traditional definition of marriage. He believes the Supreme Courts observation that Parliament can rule on marriage, as well as its refusal to have an opinion, aren't enough to justify this bill. He notes that other countries as well as the United Nations have rejected the idea of same-sex marriage as a human right.

Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC): Con. Invoking the spirit of Star Trek's Mr. Spock, she points out that the federal government has never ruled on marriage before because the marriage ceremony is the creation and intellectual property of religious institutions, not the government. In her opinion, the bill fails to protect the intellectual property of those institutions; in fact she finds the bill to be a threat to the practice of religion in Canada.

Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Wellington, CPC): Con. He supported the traditional definition of marriage in 2003 and sees no reason to change his mind now. He points out the Supreme Court never declared the traditional definition to be unconstitutional. He believes that tolerance and respect for gay couples can be achieved without altering the definition of marriage. The Conservative's proposed amendment would be a reasonable compromise.

Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC): Con. The bill has generated a lot of correspondence from his constituents, most of it in opposition to this bill. He doesn't believe a majority of Canadians will accept the direction the bill invites them to take. He also suggests the bill might become an election issue if the government were to fall early. He believes that changing the definition of civil marriage will have an effect on the entire institution and its role in society.

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, CPC): Con. He takes his position on behalf of children, who benefit from the institution of traditional marriage. The bill would also have an effect on free speech: he thinks that public schools would be compelled to teach that gay marriage is morally equivalent to traditional marriage. He questions the ability of the Liberal government to protect religious freedoms with this bill.

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC): Con. He's surprised by the level of controversy this bill has produced; he's met people who felt the government had no business keeping marriage and divorce statistics and so he's surprised that these same people want the government to bring in this bill. He's disappointed with the Liberal position compelling cabinet members to support this bill.

Mr. Merv Tweed (Brandon—Souris, CPC): Con. He's gotten some correspondence from his constituents supporting this bill, but much more from those who oppose it. He sees the Conservative amendment to be a reasonable compromise, and accuses the Liberals of using this bill as a distraction from their record of governance. He notes that in Belgium and the Netherlands, there are still differences in adoption and non-national citizenship status that differentiate between same-sex and opposite-sex unions.


The score today: Pro 3, Con 9.
So far: Con 52, Pro 23.