Hansard: House of Commons report
“Mrs. Lucie Pépin (Outremont): Mr. Speaker, this week is National Family Week. This even does not aim at glorifying unduly this institution, but simply at pointing out the difficulties faced by families in a world where children are more a problem than a source of happiness.
The structure of the labour market and our whole social organization do not favour the family, on the contrary…
The decreasing enthusiasm of Canadian men and women for having children is indicative of the difficulties which children represent in our society. The best policy to promote an increase in the birth rate is to give women their legitimate place in society and consider the family as a contract between equals…” (October 7)
“Mrs. Lucie Pépin (Outremont): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of State for the Status of Women. Last September, we learned that CIDA was providing half a million dollars to the International Federation for Family Life Promotion. The purpose of this organization is to provide services in natural family planning to developing countries. Why did the Government choose to support the least effective method of contraception for the women of the Third World? Does this reflect an ideological preference of the Government for natural contraception rather than for other means of contraception?”
“Mrs. Lucie Pépin (Outremont): Mr. Speaker, my supplementary was going to be addressed to the Minister of National Health and Welfare, but I shall also ask it to the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. I would like to know why the Minister and the Government have reduced the budgets of organizations which promote all methods of contraception in Canada, such as Planned Parenthood, and why they have increased the amounts allocated to organizations which favour natural means of contraception. Why does the Conservative Government not leave it up to women to choose their own methods of contraception and why does it subsidize mostly the organizations which favour natural methods?” (October 18)
[ed. The Minister for the Status of Women, Mr. McLean, promised to refer both of Mrs. Pépin’s questions to the relevant ministers for comment.]
Mr. John Gormley (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake): Mr. Speaker, there has been concern recently about funding levels for Planned Parenthood, both nationally and at the provincial level in Saskatchewan.
As one who supports the principle of public education on family planning and birth control, I agree with the general objectives of an organization like Planned Parenthood. However, there is one very objectionable aspect of Planned Parenthood’s philosophy that cannot be tolerated by people of conscience. It is Planned Parenthood’s stand on abortion.
Regardless of one’s view on the subject, abortion is prohibited in the Criminal Code, except under certain circumstances. Yet Planned Parenthood continues to counsel that abortion is an equal alternative to women facing the birth of a child.
Planned Parenthood counselors are instructed to state that an expectant woman has three options: carry a child to term and retain custody, place the child for adoption, or have an abortion. By doing this, Planned Parenthood is openly promoting an act which is illegal. Further, this counseling relegates Planned Parenthood to the role of an abortion referral agency.
I join with millions of Canadian taxpayers who feel that their tax dollars might be used for birth control information, but must not be used for the promotion of abortion.” (October 31)
Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support strongly the call by literally millions of Canadians for increased funding to the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada. That Federation is in the forefront in Canada of the struggle for safe and effective birth control, and sex education. I could think of no more positive and appropriate means of reducing the number of abortions in Canada than ensuring that our young people, particularly have access to proper education and to safe and effective contraceptives.
Mr. Gormley: You are kidding.
Mr. Robinson: I suggest as well that the Planned Parenthood Federation has called for an additional research into proper and effective forms of contraception.
Instead of accepting the counsel of the Hon. Member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake (Mr. Gormley), which will result in an increase in the number of abortions in Canada, and instead of accepting is suggestion that we cut off the funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation, which is what he is saying, I suggest that we should increase the level of funding to that Federation and thank it for the outstanding service it is providing to Canadians in promoting safe, effective birth control , and preventing unwanted pregnancies.” (October 31)
Status of Women
“Hon. Walter McLean (Minister of State Immigration): We are now about to embark on the implementation of one of the most significant legacies of the decade for women, the forward-looking strategies that came out of that decade. These strategies, as Members of the House will know, were adopted at the United Nations World Conference on Women in Nairobi three months ago by an unprecedented consensus, a consensus that had eluded the two previous conferences in Mexico City and Copenhagen.
With the forward-looking strategies, all member states of the United Nations have, for the first time in history, pledged themselves to implement a set of strategies designed to enable women to participate fully in all aspects of society. They are in effect, a blueprint for progress on women’s issues for the rest of this century. The strategies are a tool women can use to encourage and indeed, I would suggest, demand government action on their behalf…
Now as we begin to implement the forward-looking strategies within Canada, we must continue to increase the efforts we have already begun in a number of areas. As a first step, I am working with my Cabinet colleagues to discuss how the strategies can be implemented within each of their areas of responsibility. As well, yesterday I convened a special meeting of provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for the Status of Women. Our discussions focused on ways in which the forward-looking strategies apply within each of the jurisdictions within our nation. I will distribute this document widely, especially to women’s groups. Indeed, I would suggest that the Nairobi strategies are required reading for all women and men who believe in Canada’s future…” (October 18)
Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary
“Mr. Gus Mitges (Grey-Simcoe): Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an abomination and a true miscarriage of justice to allow Dr. Morgentaler and his associates to continue their murder of unborn human beings at their human slaughter house at 85 Harbord Street in Toronto.
The activities of this group have consistently violated Canada’s Criminal Code, by performing abortions on demand.
The Attorney General of Ontario has been derelict in his duties by refusing to exercise the powers of his office, not setting bail conditions on the accused and restraining them from further breaking the law as they as charged pending the result of the Crown appeal of their acquittal on a similar charge.
This can be construed as the Attorney General of Ontario having no objection to Dr. Morgentaler continuing his daily slaughter of innocent unborn human beings who cannot defend themselves or speak out on their own behalf. Each day of delay in settling this whole question means that more and more unborn babies will have their lives snatched from then. This must stop.
The most positive way in which this whole problem can be rectified is to introduce an amendment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that will in fact recognize once and for all, that unborn babies are indeed persons, indeed human beings in every sense of the meaning of those words, and have the same rights, privileges, and protection under the Charter as other human beings. This action is long overdue and I therefore call upon the Government to initiate positive action I this regard as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker: I must advise the Hon. Minister that his time has expired” (October 22)
“Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. On Friday the Subcommittee on Equality Rights tabled a unanimous report calling for sweeping changes in federal laws and policies affecting women, the disabled, gays and lesbians, visible minorities, and the elderly, among others. In view of the many statements made in the past for a full protection of minority rights, will the Prime Minister assure the House that the Government will take early action to implement these unanimous recommendations for real equality for all Canadians?
Right Hon. Brian Mulroney (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, in my absence I believe that Minister of Justice indicated that there would be a response fro the Government at a reasonably early moment and I believe he indicated a time frame which would give us the time to analyze very carefully some of the very significant recommendations that have been made. That response will be provided as quickly as possible. My hon. Friend can be assured that it is my hope that nothing in that response will be at variance with our belief that minority rights are indeed fundamental and very important in Canada.
“Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby): Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is also directed to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister agree with the recommendation of the Sub-committee on Equality Rights – echoed as well by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and endorsed by his colleague the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources – that discrimination based on sexual orientation must be barred by is Government, the federal Government?
Right Hon. Brian Mulroney (Prime Minister): In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, that would be part of the comprehensive response the Government is expected to submit to the House. I suspect the Hon. Member will not be surprised to learn that I am against any kind of discrimination whatsoever. Our imperfections notwithstanding, we are trying to build a more tolerant and equitable society in Canada and, with great difficulty, we will succeed, I am sure.”
”Mrs. Margaret Mitchell (Vancouver East): Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be proud of the parliamentary committee on equality rights which held hearings across Canada and came to an all-Party consensus on progressive changes that are needed to remove discrimination from our laws and enforce our Charter of Rights. The Equality for All recommendations, which must be implemented, will affect parents, persons over 65 who wish to continue working, homosexuals, immigrants, and the physically and mentally disabled.
Discriminatory practices against Canadian women have been given special consideration in recommendations that also respect the rights of men. The committee recommends shared parental leave, protection in common-law relationships, equal treatment of women in the Armed Forces, prorated benefits for part-time workers, and much stronger enforcement of employment equity than is proposed in current government legislation.
We call on the Government to prepare legislation immediately to implement these recommendations and remove discrimination. Bill C-62 should be redrafted as a first step. Action must replace words o achieve true equality.” (October 28)
“Right Hon. John N. Turner (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. We have studied the report of the parliamentary committee entitled Equality for All, affecting the rights of all Canadians. We on this side of the House, in the Liberal Party, believe that the rights of Canadians cannot be determined as a moral issue, and that discrimination is wrong whether of not it is popular.
Does the Government intend to wait for the courts to enforce Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or does it intend to act legislatively in the House of Commons to implement that report? In particular, would the Acting Prime Minister indicate to the House whether his Government intends to amend the Human Rights Act so as to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a discrimination which is already implicitly barred by Section 15 of the Charter of Rights.”
“Right Hon. Joe Clark (Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker, we share not simply the commitment but the priority to the realization and respect for human rights expressed by the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition. He will understand that this is a question of very real complexity for the country and for the Government. For that reason we are studying, on an urgent basis, the report which has been placed before the House. I can indicate to him now only that we will be able to respond to the questions which he has put to me today as early as is possible.” (October 30)
Mr. John Reimer (Kitchener): Mr. Speaker, the Government cannot respond to the recommendations tabled by the Parliamentary Committee on Equality Rights in its report Equality for All without first defining certain well worn but often misunderstood terms and concepts, one of which is the word “discriminate”.
The word “discriminate” is inherently neutral; it is synonymous with words such as “distinguished”, “differentiate”, “discern”, or “judge”.
As such, it may be used in a positive sense to denote the practice of good judgment or, conversely, it may be used in a negative sense to denote the practice of bad judgment.
One’s decision as to whether the act of discrimination is either a positive or a negative exercise is entirely contingent upon one’s value system.
The value system from which I operate will not tolerate negative discrimination based upon race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or socio-economic status.
However, the same value system compels me to urge the Government to exercise good judgment and reject the Report’s recommendations 10 and 14 inclusive, pertaining to sexual orientation.
It is imperative that the Government affirm its commitment to traditional Canadian values concerning the created uniqueness of male and female and their inter-relationship, particularly within the context of the family unit.” (October 30)
On October 28, Svend Robinson (NDP, Burnaby) moved that his private member’s bill, Bill C-238, be read a second time and referred to committee. The Bill sought to repeal the Criminal Code provisions on abortion, that is, remove the requirements for Therapeutic Abortion Committees and to permit free-standing abortion clinics.
Objections to Robinson’s Bill came from four Conservative MPs: Jim Jepson (London East), John Oostrom (Willowdale), Bill Attewell (Don Valley East) and David Kilgour (Edmonton-Strathcona). These four men spoke for the remaining time allotted to Private Members’ business and succeeded in preventing a vote to send the Bill to committee.
Debate on this Bill covers eight pages of Hansard. Space limitations in this issue of The Interim prevent us from covering the debate adequately; we will do so in our January issue.