By Tim Bloedow
Political developments indicate that the federal government has finally decided to surrender to the homosexual advocacy agenda of the Supreme Court by implementing sweeping reforms to Canadian law so as to grant marital benefits to same-sex couples across the board. Instead of implementing changes on a piecemeal basis, they are expected to introduced an omnibus bill during their current term in office.
The Prime Minister called a meeting of the federal Liberal caucus in early November to discuss the concerns of party MPs. The opposition he has faced from several of his own backbenchers over previous legal changes that gave special rights to homosexuals has been a thorn in Mr. Chrétien's side and some critics expect the resistance to grow stronger as these changes move closer to actually redefining "marriage," "spouse," and "family."
Reports coming out of that meeting indicate that much more discussion is needed. Liberal MP Pat O'Brien told The Interim that he believes the consultation taking place is sincere. "That is why I am contributing my input to the process," he said.
The Liberal cabinet knows that there would be many "very unhappy Liberal MPs as well as Canadians in general" if they passed a bill that changed the definition of marriage, he added.
Mr. O'Brien said he wouldn't support any proposal that changed the definition of "spouse," "marriage," or "family." If the government has to do something, he said, the "conjugal" nature of the relationship should not be the issue, echoing calls from other quarters to recognize all relationships of economic and personal dependency (such as siblings who live together).
MP Paul Steckle, another Liberal backbencher concerned about the anticipated omnibus bill, said that giving benefits to some people in a dependent relationship and not to others, essentially giving "privileged rights" to conjugal relationships, would not be in keeping with the Charter of Rights. It would give rights to homosexuals that heterosexuals don't have, he explained.
Reform Party family critic Eric Lowther told The Interim that "the Reform Party has always said it did not want to go down this road." If the Liberal government insists on doing so, however, Reform will be arguing that benefits should be based on dependency, not on sexual activity.
At the same time, they will be demanding that the government honour the House of Commons vote in June in favour of the traditional definition of marriage. Fifty-five MPs voted against the Reform motion, while 216 voted in favour of it, including some Liberal cabinet ministers. Mr. Lowther wants to see a Charter-proof definition of marriage in federal law to protect the family against further legal encroachments of the homosexualist political agenda.
Many observers say that the phenomenon of judicial activism is at the centre of the controversy. Few people attempt to argue that such legal changes are being driven by public demand; the conventional wisdom is that the feds are tired of losing costly court battles in a judicial system that seems to have accepted the view that married couples and same-sex partners should be treated equally in law.
The bias in Canada's top court was starkly illustrated in October by Supreme Court Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé. At a recent meeting at the law school of Queen's University, the judge, renowned for her strident feminism and other far-left views, criticized the idea of treating marriage as a unique institution, arguing for equal treatment by governments for a range of "dependent" relationships including homosexual partners.
Some critics argue that Parliament could put an end to judge-rule in Canada by simply asserting its constitutional authority as the law-maker of the land. They differ, however, as to why they believe the Liberal government refuses to do this: some blame cowardice, others say that the Liberal elite is allowing the judicial arm of the government to implement a radical agenda that they support, but which they know wouldn't move as quickly through the normal democratic process in the legislature.
Mr. Lowther places the blame for the current situation "squarely on the back of the Liberal government." "The courts are driving social policy," he said, but the Prime Minister "appointed the judges and did so with no public vetting of the decisions."
Mr. Chrétien, he said, "will use every part of the Charter except the notwithstanding clause [and he has] chosen not to appeal court decisions such as the Rosenberg ruling, which gave homosexuals access to pension benefits. What we have is a leadership vacuum."
Peter Stock, national director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, expressed concern about compromise with the homosexual agenda over the extension of benefits. Treating non-marital relationships as though they were marriages, he said, "devalues marriage and ultimately harms children."
Mr. Stock also warned that receiving the full slate of marital benefits is only an intermediate goal of the homosexualist agenda. "Their ultimate goal is to define the family out of existence entirely."
A press release from the leading homosexualist lobby group EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) regarding the Ontario government's recent bill giving homosexual couples the same rights as common-law spouses, indicates that organization's commitment to the eventual redefinition of "spouse."
EGALE president Laurie Arron said that his group is "deeply concerned that the Ontario government plans to maintain a discriminatory distinction in terminology by restricting the definition of ‘spouse' to opposite-sex couples only," indicating that this situation "may invite further legal action."
Ontario chose to give homosexual couples rights identical with those of common-law spouses, but not to call them "spouses" as such, thus avoiding a direct re-definition of the term.
To buttress his anti-marriage view, Mr. Arron cited a 1998 Federal Court decision (Attorney General of Canada v Moore and Akerstrom) which "has already decided that it is discriminatory to set up a separate definition for ‘same-sex partners' ... The Federal Court also cited with approval comments by another judge referring to a ‘separate but equal doctrine' for same-sex couples as an ‘appalling doctrine' which must not be resuscitated in Canada."
Some pro-family activists feel there isn't much hope of defeating the government's agenda to advance homosexual rights. Peter Stock said that even if 25 to 30 Liberal MPs oppose the legislation, the almost unanimous backing of the Tories, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois will guarantee its passage.
Likewise, Eric Lowther didn't express a lot of confidence in a pro-family victory. Pro-family forces are tired and somewhat confused, he said, adding that unless people clearly see the legislation as essentially redefining marriage, it may be difficult to muster the forces necessary to stand against it.
Paul Steckle said it would take a great outcry from the public, adding it is about time that Canadian clergy woke up and exercised their God-given responsibility to speak publicly to these issues. Pat O'Brien, however, urges all concerned Canadians to speak out, contacting their MPs and writing letters to their local newspapers.