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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Monday, April 28, 2003




¿ 0905
V         The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.))
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel

¿ 0910
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Denis Bourget (Objectif Famille)

¿ 0915
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Melvin Chuck (As Individual)

¿ 0920

¿ 0925
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel

¿ 0930
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Melvin Chuck
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Melvin Chuck
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Denis Bourget

¿ 0935
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ)
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget

¿ 0940
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         M. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings

¿ 0945
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

¿ 0950
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.)

¿ 0955
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Melvin Chuck

À 1000
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.)
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Denis Bourget
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         Mr. John McKay

À 1005
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

À 1010
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mrs. Nicole Hamel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Cynthia Beaulé (Laval University, As Individual)

À 1020

À 1025
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella (Pastor, Église Vie Nouvelle, Cap-de-la Madeleine)

À 1030
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc (As Individual)

À 1035

À 1040
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc

À 1045
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Cynthia Beaulé
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

À 1050
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

À 1055
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. John McKay

Á 1100
V         Ms. Cynthia Beaulé
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella

Á 1105
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Nancy Leclerc

Á 1110
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings

Á 1115
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Rev. Frédéric Colella
V         The Chair
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr (Professor, Faculté de science politique et de droit, Université du Québec à Montréal, As Individual)

Á 1120

Á 1125
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza (Preserving Marriage for Young Canadians)
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill (Preserving Marriage for Young Canadians)

Á 1130
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Michel Emery (As Individual)

Á 1135

Á 1140
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz

Á 1145
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr

Á 1150
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr

Á 1155
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin

 1200
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman

 1205
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Mr. Hugo Cyr

 1210
V         Mme Marlene Jennings
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         Ms. Sarah McNeill

 1215
V         Mr. Kim D'Souza
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay)
V         The Chair

· 1305
V         Ms. Micheline Montreuil (As Individual)

· 1310
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jorge Flores-Aranda (Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d'Amnistie Internationale)

· 1315
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel (Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d'Amnistie Internationale)

· 1320
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Michael Ferri (As Individual)

· 1325
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel

· 1330
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

· 1335
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine (As Individual)
V         Mr. Richard Marceau

· 1340
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel

· 1345
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

· 1350
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay

· 1355
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roberto Jovel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Michael Ferri

¸ 1400
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Anthony Grumbine
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Myriam Brunel (As Individual)

¸ 1410

¸ 1415
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume (As Individual)

¸ 1420

¸ 1425
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Myriam Brunel
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Myriam Brunel
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

¸ 1430
V         Ms. Myriam Brunel
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume

¸ 1435
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Ms. Myriam Brunel

¸ 1440
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

¸ 1445
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume

¸ 1450
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume

¸ 1455
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Mr. Jean Rhéaume
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre (Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Society)

¹ 1505

¹ 1510
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Julie Pétrin (As Individual)

¹ 1515
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole de Sève (Counsellor, Centrale des syndicats du Québec)

¹ 1520
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz

¹ 1525
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre (National Program Consultant, Canadian AIDS Society)
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         Mr. Garry Breitkreuz
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         Ms. Julie Pétrin

¹ 1530
V         Mr. Chuck Cadman
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Julie Pétrin
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         Ms. Julie Pétrin

¹ 1535
V         Mr. Richard Marceau
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mr. John McKay

¹ 1540
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mr. John McKay
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         Mr. John McKay
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         Mr. John McKay

¹ 1545
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole de Sève
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Colette Trudel (Centrale des syndicats du Québec)

¹ 1550
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         Mr. Paul Harold Macklin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

¹ 1555
V         Ms. Colette Trudel
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Ms. Colette Trudel
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Nicole de Sève
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings

º 1600
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul Lapierre
V         Mrs. Nicole de Sève
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Colette Trudel
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Julie Pétrin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Patrick McIntyre
V         The Chair
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Michel Lizotte (As Individual)

º 1615
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Michel Lizotte
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Michel Lizotte
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Mark Sward (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Mark Sward
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Mr. Jean Bruno Villeneuve (As Individual)

º 1620
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)
V         Ms. Micheline Petithomme (As Individual)
V         The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings)










CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights


NUMBER 038 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, April 28, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¿  +(0905)  

[Translation]

+

    The Chair (Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)): Order, please.

    Welcome.

    We are resuming the hearings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. This is the committee's 38th meeting. I welcome the witnesses and committee members, who have had two weeks' time in which to think.

[English]

    I think that the panel is aware of the procedure. Each presenter has seven minutes, and following that there will be discussion with the committee.

    Without further ado, I'd like to proceed first with Nicole Hamel, as an individual; followed by Objectif Famille, Denis Bourget; then Melvin Chuck, also as an individual.

[Translation]

    The first presentation will be made by Ms. Hamel.

+-

    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: Affiliation: Ms. Nicole Hamel (as individual) Good morning.

    First, I'm going to offer a personal testimonial.

    In 1968, I married a man whom I loved very much. We had problems having a child and decided to adopt two children through international adoption. After 10 years of marriage, I gave birth to our third child. For both my husband and myself, our marriage was supposed to last forever. However, after many problems and 23 years together, our marriage ended.

    In 1993, my partner and I stood before three witnesses and promised to share our life in love. This fundamentally religious ceremony was celebrated in secret. Our families do not know about it. To this day, many in our families do not value our union the same way they do a heterosexual marriage.

    For more than 30 years, I was involved in the Catholic Church in varying capacities: first as a volunteer and then as an employee. For almost 10 years, I worked for Archbishop Maurice Couture in the Diocese of Quebec City and performed various pastoral functions. To be permitted to do this work, I was required to have a pastoral mandate, which is the equivalent of a licence.

    Since same-sex couples are not recognized, I lived my life in secret, and in fear of losing my job. The Catholic Church tolerates same-sex unions if they are not public knowledge and do not cause a scandal. Otherwise, the employee's pastoral mandate is revoked and he or she is fired.

    In 1995, I was diagnosed with cancer. I know that my difficulty coping with all the tension in my family relationships, the secrecy at work, and especially, the lack of recognition of our union, are to some extent responsible for the onset of this disease.

    It was during training in pastoral health care in 1996 that I first met someone from the United Church of Canada (Protestant Church). I did not start attending the United Church until fall 2000. After a period of soul-searching, I officially changed denominations. At the time I was working in pastoral health care at a hospital in the Quebec City area, as part of the Regional Pastoral Care Service. Even though I had a United Church pastoral mandate that was recognized by the Department of Health and Social Services, I was fired because I no longer had authorization from the Catholic Church. My case is currently before the Commission des normes du travail.

    Despite that, I went from inner freedom to freedom of speech and that is how I am able to be with you here today. I have found comfort in expressing my faith and a place as a complete woman.

    Now I'm going to talk about the United Church of Canada and homosexuality. The following describes the path taken by the United Church of Canada since 1977 in developing its position on homosexuality. This will be really very brief since I know you've already heard someone from the United Church.

    In March 1977, the Church and Society service of the Division of Mission in Canada passed the following resolution:

That, in all areas covered by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provisions be taken to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    At the 30th General Council in Morden, Manitoba, in 1984, the United Church affirmed the following statement:

We confess before God that as a Christian community, we have participated in history of injustice and persecution against gay and lesbian persons.

    At the 32nd General Council in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1988, the United Church made the following statement:

All members of the United Church of Canada are eligible to be considered for ordered ministry.

    The third point is this: the United Church and same-sex couples.

    At the 34th General Council in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1992, the discussion shifted to the possibility of blessing same-sex unions. No official statement was adopted, but the parishes in our Church that were responsible for liturgy were encouraged to consider it. The parishes were given guidelines and examples of liturgy.

    We do not know exactly how many parishes perform commitment ceremonies, but it is less than a hundred. At one parish in Toronto, at least ten unions are celebrated every year.

ç At the 37th General Council in Toronto, in 2000, the United Church adopted a series of proposals affirming the rights of homosexuals in the Church and society, namely:
    Human sexual orientations are gifts from God, part of the marvellous diversity of creation.

    The fourth point is the position of the St-Pierre United Church Francophone parish in Quebec City on blessing homosexual unions between persons who believe in Christ.

    After consulting the annual general assembly on March 11, 2001, that is to say one year before civil union was adopted in Quebec City, the Council of Elders, which makes decisions on liturgy and spiritual direction for the parish under the pastor's guidance, approved the celebration of commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples under certain conditions. I'll name only two: it's a lifelong commitment, and there is time for preparation and meetings. The other points appear in the appendix at the end of the brief.

    The fifth point is excerpts from my book on love between women and the Catholic Church, which is related to the bill under consideration today.

    I am co-author of a publication entitled L'amour entre femmes dans l'Église catholique. Et CIEL parlait, ce serait l'ENFER. For this book we brought together ten or so women who have a direct or indirect connection with the Church. In these life stories we tried to discern various aspects of the feelings of invisibility experienced by these women and the effects of secrecy on their health and spirituality. In addition to silence and invisibility, the respondents had to overcome physical, psychological and spiritual health problems.

    Many are misunderstood, denied their rights, verbally attacked, stressed out and rejected by their families.

¿  +-(0910)  

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    The Chair: You have one minute left.

+-

    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: All right.

    When I was a child, being left-handed was something that needed to be corrected in order to be normal. Today, being left-handed is accepted as a difference. Love between people of the same sex is simply a different way of loving. Based on my personal experience, I believe in the value of same-sex parenthood, based on my personal experience adopting two children, giving birth and living with my partner's son. I recognize the value of fertility that is other than biological.

    I'll close by giving you my recommendation.

    Our society is becoming increasingly secular and pluralist in its spiritual and religious values. I feel it is important to continue separating church and state.

    I do not believe that churches will agree on the issue that brings us together today. Although I belong to a church that recognizes same-sex unions, I feel civil unions should be available to all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

    In granting civil marriages to all couples, the state would be respecting the rights and obligations of anyone who wants to make a lifelong commitment.

    I propose that religious marriages be a second step only, based on the religious affiliation of the person involved.

    I am president of the St-Pierre United Church Francophone society of Quebec City.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Bourget, you have five minutes.

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget (Objectif Famille): I'm here as an individual and a Canadian citizen, and also as the representative of an organization called Objectif Famille, which works with families. I'm here to support the position that marriage is not first of all a religious question, but rather a family question.

    I would like to thank you for this opportunity to express my views as a Canadian. I am pleased that we in Canada have the right to speak before Parliament and to participate in and contribute to this kind of democratic process.

    I'm going to tell you about my personal experience. I'm a Quebec native and have lived in Ontario for 24 years. So I have fairly broad experience of both English and French Canada. I've been a member of the military. I was a representative and engineer for 20 years. I taught for eight years. Now that I've returned to Montreal, I take care of families. I visit community organizations, I go to different churches and I attend parent meetings. We provide families with resources to help them consolidate their marriages and raise their children. I meet a lot of parents virtually every day. So I have a lot of experience in that area. I've also acquired valid experience in teaching, where I have observed the influence that parents have on children's learning and behaviour in social groups.

    In my view, marriage means family or a potential family, and family obviously means children. You know that marriage is an institution that has existed since time immemorial. I'm sure you've been told that at every one of your meetings.

    As an engineer, I know that you have to experiment with change if you want to move ahead. But before you can change anything, you have to demonstrate the benefits of change. You don't change things without there being consequences, good or bad. The idea is to see whether the changes are good. If they aren't good, why make them?

    As a young engineer in the 1970s, I very soon realized that, from a chemical standpoint, the planet was beyond our control. We synthesize 1,000 products a year and tested approximately 30. However, they were individual products. We tested no combination of those chemicals. There was the Love Canal, and there have been all kinds of pollution since then. It's the same thing in medicine. You don't make a change just for the fun of changing. You change when change is worthwhile.

    Marriage is a fundamental institution of society. Before beginning to change, you have to demonstrate the benefits of the proposed changes. I believe that the changes proposed to date are not valid. I work with families, and I know that marriage means stability, not only for spouses who love each other, but especially for children, who are not making any submissions to your committee today because they can't. They need their parents. I'm speaking to you as a parent as well because parents defend their children and their children's rights.

    Marriage means stability for young people. There have been all kinds of social experiments in Quebec since the 1970s. Marriage is less and less fashionable; it's common law now and so on.

¿  +-(0915)  

However, psychological research being done at the doctoral level in universities and elsewhere shows the difference between the stability of children from common law relationships and that of children from marriages. It's even said that, on average, the children of marriages have higher birth weights than those of common law unions. They are better adapted to their environment, have better careers, go further in their education, have fewer behavioural problems at school, learn better, fewer of them drop out of high school, and so on. So marriage makes a difference in the lives of families and especially in the lives of children.

I am here this morning to advance the rights of children. Children need both a father and a mother. Not many people here think that children don't need a mother. That's always been acknowledged and still is. There was a kind of fashion in which some people said that fathers served no purpose. However, last year I heard about studies that had been conducted in France and Czechoslovakia showing that fathers have an absolutely vital effect on the normal behaviour and development of children.

    Obviously, you can try all kinds of things in society. Human beings are very adaptable and can survive many things, but the idea here is not the survival, but rather the welfare of the children of our country. I'm here to say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, as far as possible, for life. We don't live on the moon, but on Earth, and that's the ideal we must maintain and encourage. Instead of attacking marriage, we must consolidate it. Ladies and gentlemen, your role is to protect that institution, not to change it without any evidence that the proposed changes will improve it. Canada depends on this.

    That concludes my remarks. Thank you for the opportunity to state my views.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Chuck, you have seven minutes.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Melvin Chuck (As Individual): Good morning. The presentation I make before you today was given to the greffier for translation. I come before you today on behalf of gay and lesbian young people, on behalf of the future generation of young Canadians who are ready for the institution of marriage. I also speak on my own behalf as a young gay man.

    I ask that this committee recommend marriage be changed to include same-sex couples. I've heard about the reputation of this committee and am familiar with its work. As a result, I have great hope that what I say today will allow the committee to recommend marriage for same-sex couples.

    In presenting before you today, I will do two things. First, I will use an analogy to represent the institution of marriage--namely, the Canadian Forces. I will look at the arguments that were used against the inclusion of gay men and lesbian women in the Canadian Forces and show how these very similar arguments are used against their inclusion in the institution of marriage.

    Second, I will look at values--namely, those relating to marriage--and I will discuss how they fit with the concept of same-sex marriage.

    I'll now refer to the institution of marriage by using my analogy of the Canadian Forces. To give you a brief background about myself, last year I received my training to become a lawyer at the office of the ombudsman, Department of National Defence. It's because of this experience I closely identify with the Canadian Forces.

    In 1986, the Department of National Defence created a charter task force to look at such matters as sexual orientation in the Canadian Forces. The same year, the department issued its recommendation against the inclusion of this group in the Canadian Forces. The conclusion of the report was that gay men and lesbian women could not fit socially or functionally within the institution. Several arguments were raised.

    First, it would affect the cohesion of the military units, because once a member's same-sex orientation became known, they would be excluded and be open to hostility and physical assaults. Second, close living conditions of military life would result in sexual advances, and sexual harassment would increase. Finally, the Department of National Defence stated it would require four sets of separate accommodation and hygiene facilities, and as a result, members having a same-sex orientation would receive better accommodations. This would result in lower morale among heterosexual soldiers.

    However, in 1992, after a series of successful court challenges, the department reversed its decision and removed the ban. Senior military leaders referred to the sense of fairness to elicit support of Canadian Forces members. They realized that reliance on equal standards for gay men, for lesbian women, and for heterosexual members was the best chance of success. Everybody was to be treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation. Individuals who would not support the policy were asked to leave.

    I will explain how similar standards work, and I'll relate them to the institution of marriage. You can see the analogy.

    First, similar standards of conduct were applied to daily military life. For example, at military social functions, common sense and good judgment prevailed with respect to public displays of affection. Second, living accommodations applied equally to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. As heterosexual members could share living accommodations, this could also apply to gay and lesbian members on military bases. Third, there were strict guidelines against sexual misconduct and harassment applied across the board, without regard to sexual orientation.

    In 1993 there was a poll conducted among Canadian Forces members with respect to the policy on sexual orientation. Of Canadian Forces members polled, 43.3% were either very satisfied or satisfied with the policy. These statistics were the same as those on the attitude about the inclusion of women in the Canadian Forces.

    I'll address the arguments against their inclusion.

    First, there were concerns of a mass exodus, but in appearing before a congressional hearing...independent Canadian research, backed up by the Department of National Defence, showed there were no signs of mass exodus from the Canadian Forces.

¿  +-(0920)  

    Second, it was thought sexual harassment would increase accordingly. Actually, since the lifting of the ban in 1992, sexual harassment decreased from 11% to 6% in 1998.

    Third, with respect to fears of violence, of the 905 assault cases in the Canadian Forces between 1992 and 1995, none were attributed to sexual orientation. In fact, two years after the lifting of the ban, the Department of National Defence could not find any indication the change had been detrimental to the Canadian Forces.

    I'll explain the reasons for such a smooth transition--and this could also be applied to the institution of marriage.

    First, military leaders recognized that change was inevitable and that this process had been occurring over a long period of time, which gave people time to sensitize themselves to the fact that there would be openly gay and lesbian soldiers.

    Second, in implementing the policy, military leaders realized it was not necessary to change the attitudes and beliefs of individuals, but rather, their behaviour.

    Finally, in terms of fairness, the policy was set up based on fairness, not on the formal conduct of gay and lesbian individuals.

    I would like to talk about values. We don't learn about values from the abstract; rather, we learn about them from day-to-day behaviour. Actually, when we learn about values and marriage, we learn about them from our parents, mainly opposite-sex couples.

    As a result, I can't understand why including gay men and lesbian women in the institution of marriage would result in a breakdown of the institution, because we learn the values around building good relationships from opposite-sex couples.

    One value I've learned in working as a lawyer for the Government of Canada is to engage in honest dialogue. I find my values come under pressure--I'll just tie this up--because the issues are increasingly complex and there are very few absolutes. However, when I revisit the institution of marriage using the analogy of the Canadian Forces, I find that by sticking to our values, we will only strengthen and add legitimacy to the institution of marriage, because only those who are committed to such values will be included in it.

    Thank you.

¿  +-(0925)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Cadman.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'd like to thank the witnesses for appearing today.

    I have a brief question.

    Ms. Hamel, you alluded to civil unions, that you would be okay with civil unions and leaving marriage, the religious services, to the churches. I believe that's what you said. We've heard some testimony from a number of groups that expressed concerns that although religious freedom is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights, they don't feel comfortable to the extent that they feel if a church refused to perform a religious ceremony under that type of arrangement, they could still be challenged.

    Can you offer any suggestions on how we may assuage those fears? There's a real fear out there among some clergy that they will be challenged if they refuse to perform a religious service if we change the definition and leave it up to the churches.

[Translation]

+-

    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: First of all, perhaps I wasn't clear, given my experience at the hearings on civil union in Quebec City. I'm really in favour of marriage. The only change I would see would be to the definition: instead of the union between one man and one woman, it would be a union between two persons who love each other.

    As for the religion question, that would be the business of each church. In that way, we would avoid many problems and respect everyone. In our society, there are a lot of people who want nothing to do with any religion whatever; in this case, couples could contract a real marriage. I don't know whether my answer is clear.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Again, there is a fear among some groups, in fact, quite a number that we've heard from, that they would be challenged if they refused to perform it, because they still have the right under religious freedom to refuse to perform the ceremony. There is concern among them that they will be challenged, even though it is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights, under religious freedom, that they could do so.

    I'm just wondering what we could do, if the definition were to change, to allay those fears. Is there anything you could recommend?

    I see Mr. Chuck has his hand up.

[Translation]

+-

    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: First, I would say that, if the state gives the example by opening marriage to everyone, perhaps it will promote thinking within certain churches, which may wish to go a step further. If a church has a problem—yesterday I saw an article on a church which I won't name—I figure it's up to its members to think and to solve their problems internally.

    The state can't resolve all that. In the past, there was baptism, but now, only the civil registry is recognized. I also believe that's how it is for deaths. I think the state has gotten to that point on the marriage question. It's up to each religious community to do its own thinking and make its own progress.

¿  +-(0930)  

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Chuck.

+-

    Mr. Melvin Chuck: While I don't have an answer for you, I can offer a framework and note that religious freedom is protected under the Constitution. As an example, the Roman Catholic Church will not perform marriages for people who have been divorced, which has not been challenged. With respect to actually challenging the churches who won't perform...I'm not sure if that is a very legitimate concern, given the example of the Roman Catholic Church.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Well, I would just argue that there are some people who feel it is an extremely legitimate concern.

+-

    Mr. Melvin Chuck: I understand the concerns they're referring to, but when situations aren't quite clear I sometimes tend to relate to analogies. Even though there is a concern and individuals have come forward before the Parliament and actually said, “I'm Roman Catholic, but the church won't allow me to marry because I am divorced; therefore, could you change the redefinition of laws with respect to Roman Catholic divorces”, I don't see how....

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Bourget.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: Mr. Chuck said that churches may well be taken to court because divorce is not a civil right, whereas sexual orientation is. He says that may be the reason why Catholics have not been challenged because they refuse to marry divorced persons, but that might be different in the case of refusal to marry homosexuals, because sexual orientation is now entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I'm of the opposite view.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Mr. Bourget, we've certainly heard from some academics that we may be moving too fast, because of unforeseen changes. I believe you spoke to that. Can you clarify or perhaps speculate about what you see as possible negative impacts we could be looking at if we changed the definition?

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: It's been said before that if you allow two members of the same sex to be married, then the whole definition is skewed as far as marriage is concerned. Other groups will challenge it and want to be included in marriage.

    As far as I am concerned, two people of the same sex or gender who want to become married is a non-issue. It's like a guy who goes to the football team and wants to play baseball. It's as if you're in the wrong place, because if you change the definition of marriage to include the same sex, it's no longer marriage. My case is that if you change marriage, you're changing the family, and you're changing the stability of society. This is mostly because of the detrimental effects of l'union libre on children, which has been evidenced from marks at school to career opportunities, economic status, and the number of divorces that they have later in life. Statistically speaking, it has all been demonstrated that kids in a marriage with a mom and dad do a whole lot better than where there's no marriage. Sometimes the introduction of other partners who are not the father or the mother of the child is very detrimental. One of the statistics demonstrating this is that violence against children, or sexual or physical abuse of them, comes mostly in unions libres from partners who are not the parents.

¿  +-(0935)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Marceau.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, witnesses.

    Ms. Hamel, I'm pleased to see you again and to call you Ms. Hamel, not Debora. Welcome to the committee.

    Mr. Bourget, I can't help but ask you questions on certain statements you've made.

    With regard to your response to what Mr. Chuck said about the distinction between sexual orientation and marital status, do you agree that discrimination based on sex, that is to say unequal treatment of men and women, is not right? Do we agree on that?

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: In most cases, yes.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: Very well. I would like you to enlighten the committee. Are you aware of any case in which the Catholic Church was taken to court because it refused to ordain female priests? That's an obvious case of discrimination. Women do not have access to the priesthood as men do. Normally, the Charter should apply. Can you cite me a case which forced the Catholic Church to ordain female priests?

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: You should put the question to Ms. Hamel. I'm not a Catholic.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: I'm going to help you. The answer is no, and I'm going to tell you why. It's simply because this obvious discrimination is accepted because it's part of the dogma of the Catholic Church, which is protected by the freedom of religion entrenched in the Quebec and Canadian charters.

    Why couldn't the same reasoning apply to same-sex spouses? What could force a church to marry same-sex spouses, when its dogma prohibits it from doing so? What's the difference between that and the Catholic Church's refusal to ordain female priests?

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: There isn't any.

¿  +-(0940)  

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: You said it was important to keep marriage the way it is because Canada depends on it. If the committee decided tomorrow morning to permit marriage between same-sex spouses, would heterosexual couples stop marrying and having children? If marriage between same-sex spouses were possible, would certain persons decide to go in that direction instead of marrying a person of the opposite sex?

    What proof do you have that society's stability would be jeopardized if persons of the same sex could marry? I believe you yourself referred to the fact that there were few of them. So how could a small minority affect the stability of society if they had access to same-sex marriage?

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: In my view, opening marriage up to persons of the same sex would further weaken the institution of marriage. The institution is already in danger. Hindsight is 20/20, but it's not so easy to see the future clearly. To contemplate the future, we rely on what's happened in the past. People don't marry more or marry less as a result of common law marriages. In my opinion, it's a question of cycles. People will see the benefits of marriage. I'm speaking in a general way. I'm not talking about examples because you can find examples to support any argument, but speaking generally.

    Opening marriage up to persons of the same sex would further weaken the institution of marriage, which is in much greater need of support than change. I have absolutely nothing against people whose sexual orientation is different from my own. They are human beings. Human beings are part of my race. The rights of those people are important, and we must defend them. I deplore the violence attributable to people's ignorance. But here we're talking about the institution of marriage, and the definition of marriage is the union between a man and a woman, not only for them, but also for their children.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: We'll come back to that. You just said it would weaken marriage. I'm a lawyer, and I know that a lawyer's services are costly. Couples who have come to see us are prepared to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to be entitled to marry. They want to have the social recognition that that entails. So marriage is important for them.

    Explain to me how opening up the institution of marriage to people who fundamentally believe in it and who are prepared to spend so much energy and effort to gain access to it could weaken that institution. Wouldn't that instead have the opposite effect? Wouldn't opening the door to people who want to marry to that degree reinforce marriage?

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: In my opinion, those two things are unrelated. All right, there are a few examples of people who want to marry, but, in my view, most homosexuals won't want to marry in any case.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: So the stability of society won't be as affected as you say.

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    M. Denis Bourget: No, but, by changing the definition of marriage, Mr. Marceau, we're attacking the institution. I advocate the opposite, that is to say enhancing the stability of marriage.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Do I have any time left?

[English]

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    The Chair: You have half a minute.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: All right. You spoke about the effects of that on children. You're a scientist, an engineer. Can you cite a study or a brief that shows that the children of same-sex spouses have more problems at school, more adjustment problems, more problems in society? Do you have any studies to cite us?

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: I didn't talk about same-sex common law marriages, but rather of people who were not married, who lived common law. I can give you the statistic later, if you wish. I did a comparison between the children of married opposite-sex spouses and the children of unmarried men and women.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But you said you had to be careful about the effects of same-sex marriages on children. That's what you just told me.

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: When we began to transform marriage, we saw the negative effects of common law unions.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau and Mr. Bourget.

    Mrs. Jennings, you have seven minutes.

+-

    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I thank all three of you for the presentations you made. I'm going to continue in the wake of Mr. Marceau's questions because a number of the points he raised appeal to me.

    First, I want to talk about the question of the definition of marriage. Marriage used to be the union of two persons. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that an order was issued defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. That makes me think of the time here in Canada when women were not included in the definition of “person”. A woman was not a person and therefore was not entitled to stand for election, to be appointed to the Senate, to be elected as a member of Parliament. It also makes me think of the situation in the United States when slavery was practised. The United States had a constitution. The constitution guaranteed rights to people, but people with African ancestors were considered as only three-fifths or two-thirds

[English]

or three-fifths of a human and therefore were not persons and did not have protections under the Constitution.

    When we say, well, no, let's not allow marriage because somehow it's going to change marriage, but we can allow some kind of civil registry and it'll be separate but equal, doesn't it remind you of segregation in the United States, where it was said that they were going to have schools and public institutions that were separate but equal? For a long time the Supreme Court of the United States adhered to that theory. Happily, in the 1950s, in the celebrated Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court of the United States saw its error. It saw that there can be no such thing as separate but equal, because it inherently creates inequality.

    I am personally for legal recognition of marriage between couples of the same sex.

¿  +-(0945)  

[Translation]

    Ms. Hamel, I'm particularly interested in your suggestion. You say that, to be legally recognized, all marriages should be civil marriages. Then people who want to marry religiously in their own institution, whether in a synagogue, Catholic or Protestant Church or a Sikh, Hindu or Buddhist temple, can resolve that within their own congregation. The question is whether or not their religion will recognize the religious marriage of same-sex couples.

    However, as a jurist, I must tell you that we have a little problem. Here in Canada, because of our Constitution and the division of powers, the federal government has jurisdiction to define marriage, whereas the provincial governments have authority in civil law and so on.

    I know you're not a jurist, but I would like your opinion and those of Messrs. Bourget and Chuck on the way in which the government could recognize same-sex marriages in a definition, but also lead the provincial governments to accept civil marriage and religious marriage where their dogma permits religious institutions to accept marriage between persons of the same sex.

+-

    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: I believe we have to go one problem at a time. First of all, the federal government must recognize the possibility of marriage, and then each province will do its duty. In Quebec, I believe a step has already been taken with civil union; that could subsequently go quite easily. I believe you have to take one step at a time. I can't say more than that at the legal level.

    I was very touched by your comments on history, slavery and all that. Society evolves, and what you said this morning about women and blacks is a beautiful example. Haven't we gotten that far with regard to marriage between homosexuals? Isn't it time to recognize couples who love each other and who are waiting? In Quebec City, at least, I could have married, but no, I'm waiting. The date “December 30, 1993” is inscribed on the inside of my ring; that's the date of my little internal marriage. I'd like to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a real marriage recognized by the federal government.

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. Bourget.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: Two Canadians of the same sex who love each other and who want to be joined need only find a special name for their union. I don't want to be simplistic. I approve of such unions, provided those persons want to enter into them. We should try to eliminate the stigma that society assigns to them, but we can't legislate on that. If two persons love each other and want to be together, I don't find that's a problem. The question arises when there are children. There would be a danger in legalizing marriage between homosexuals. Homosexuals are already adopting children. I simply want to promote marriage between heterosexuals so that children generally have their father and their mother. I can't really offer a solution to your federal-provincial problem.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: All right. Mr. Bourget, I have a suggestion to make. As for finding a name...

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    The Chair: Mrs. Jennings, that's all.

    Mr. Ménard, you have eight minutes.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): You see, Mr. Chairman, we're a bit undisciplined in Montreal. It's the night life that makes us that way.

    Mr. Bourget, I don't doubt that you're a man of good faith with a concern to do your job as a citizen. It's a pleasure for me to hear you this morning, even though I don't share your point of view. However, I submit that there's a logical defect in your reasoning. Ultimately, you're arguing this morning in favour of abolishing divorce because those who have posed the greatest threat to marriage are heterosexuals, to the extent that homosexuals can't marry.

    Your argument in favour of abolishing divorce may be accepted, but it leads me to ask you the following question. Marriage remains the most widespread form of commitment in our society. When the Statistics Canada representatives came to meet us—that was their second testimony before the committee—we learned that, according to the last census, 70 percent of persons living together as a couple were married. The figure was 83 percent 10 years ago. So you're right in saying that fewer people are marrying. When people marry, the reason is a matter of values. There are legal reasons, but common law spouses are recognized in virtually all fields of law.

    The values associated with marriage, that is to say fidelity, mutual support and commitment, are set out in statutory instruments. Do couples consisting of two men or two women react to those values differently than heterosexual couples? If you answer yes, you are consistent with your own position. I don't think that my way of loving Thomas, my boyfriend, is different from your way of loving the women you may have loved in your life. If I decide to marry one day when that's possible, it will be for reasons of values. I believe we subscribe to the same values, and it's in that sense that your logic does not hold up.

¿  +-(0950)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Monsieur Bourget.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Denis Bourget: There's no difference between homosexuals' feelings and those of heterosexuals. Those of both groups are equally legitimate and valid. I want to defend the institution of marriage so that it remains what it has always been, the union between one man and one woman, because that's what ensures the greatest stability for society and for children.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: My clerk will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that tomorrow we will be hearing from a professor from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Danielle Julien, who has conducted studies and looked at what is happening in the United States. Longitudinal studies have been conducted for 20 years on the way children evolve in homosocial environments and in heterosocial environments. What you're saying doesn't hold true. The children of homosexual couples, or who have grown up in homosexual families, don't behave differently. You're going to have to submit those studies because no one who claims to be from your school of thinking has submitted any studies to the committee because those studies do not exist. There may be favourable or unfavourable prejudices, but no scientist has proven that a child from a homosexual family behaved differently. Danielle Julien of UQAM has conducted a study and surveyed American studies. The viewpoint you're defending cannot be supported scientifically because that support doesn't exist. There are hyperactive children among heterosexuals just as there are among homosexuals.

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: You say there aren't any studies, but what I'm telling you is based on what I've heard and read. I'm not an expert in this field. I came here because I work with citizens and families. You're throwing a challenge my way, Mr. Ménard, and I'm ready to take it up. We don't have the time today, but I would say that the contrary is true.

[English]

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    The Chair: Madame Hamel.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: I would like to say two things. I was married for 23 years, as I said at the outset, within the institution of marriage, but in the past more than 10 years, I and my spouse have been living the life as a couple that I had dreamed of when I was a young girl. That's saying something. According to our research, seven out of 10 women have been living in a stable, balanced and harmonious relationship for more or less 10 years.

    As regards children, at the parliamentary committee hearings in Quebec City on civil union, young people came and testified about how beautiful and comfortable their relationships were. What poses a problem for children right now is the non-recognition of same-sex marriages. That's why children are ashamed and unable to say that their two parents love each other. That's the problem for children. It's a legal problem.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

[English]

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.): Thank you, Chair, and thank you, panel.

    It does appear that we have a certain amount of agreement across the panel with respect to the issue of equal rights in terms of the opportunity to have at least an equivalency to marriage.

    Mr. Bourget, you seem to come back to one of the questions that has been raised on a number of occasion and in different contexts, which has been the term “marriage”. Some scholars have suggested with respect to constitutional law that the federal government may not have any authority to amend the Constitution in terms of the meaning of marriage without going through a constitutional amendment process. In particular, since marriage is a heading within the Constitution and would therefore have the original meaning that it had, it would not be changeable without that process being followed and pursued.

    At the end of the day here, the question that I have in listening to the arguments made for and against is, are we dealing with equality issues or are we dealing ultimately with the use of a word denoting status? I'd like to hear your response to that.

    I'll leave it open to the full panel, although, Mr. Bourget, you were certainly making the initial approach.

¿  +-(0955)  

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: I would like to give our two fellow witnesses this morning the status they desire.

    I come back to the initial definition. There has to be a way where they can have the freedom and status of their unions without any stigma being attached to those unions. Maybe civil union in Quebec is the way to do it. Regarding the point Ms. Hamel made about the stigma of not being married in Quebec, most couples in Quebec don't get married now, so that's not much of an issue, I think.

    But the stigma is something that's very real for these children. We should and must find a way of dealing with the stigma of being different. Children are so cruel that way in schools and school yards; they can attack other kids for all kinds of reasons. We should somehow address the stigma.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Ms. Hamel.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: With regard to equality and the right to a status, I would say that, in the debate on civil union in Quebec City, civil union was originally supposed to be exclusively for homosexuals. Ultimately, however, civil union was opened up to everyone because there was a problem of federal jurisdiction. That's why I have every hope that the federal government will be able to find a way to open things up instead of starting all over again.

    It's a question of equality, but it's more than a right to a status. It's a question of humanity which concerns the good of children. I wasn't able to talk about it this morning, but there is the entire problem of homosexuality-related suicide among young people, based on the studies, among others, of Michel Dorais, with whom everyone is familiar. It's fundamental because these are human rights. It's more than a question of equality. Everyone's welfare ultimately depends on it, even that of young people and children.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: I'd like to move on to one other issue. Mr. Chuck, you referred to—and I know you didn't have time to develop your argument—values within the Canadian Forces. What you seemed to be dealing with was the interpersonal relationships of members of the forces. Yet Mr. Bourget comes forward and says, let us deal with the interests and rights of the child. How would you deal with your values argument in terms of meeting the needs and concerns expressed by Mr. Bourget about care and the family unit that Mr. Bourget would see as being most important within the marriage?

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    The Chair: Mr. Chuck.

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    Mr. Melvin Chuck: I think that as children we learn by analogy with what we're given in parental relationships. I don't see a distinction, quite honestly, whether individuals are raised by grandparents, or aunts and uncles, or moms and dads, or two members of the same sex. It's all the same. So with respect to caring for children and if we're looking at same-sex marriages, I have difficulty seeing why it's an issue. If we're looking at the care of children, it just seems to be the case that we're interested in developing healthy relationships. The only way that can come is in fact if same-sex couples are given equal protection under the law, and not necessarily a civil status. I know Ms. Hamel was saying that, and Ms. Jennings was also saying it. It seems to be a very comparable approach.

    But one concern I have about civil status, because it's federal jurisdiction, is that some provinces might not agree to it. As a result, individuals can go forum shopping, meaning they can go to a different province to be married; then, returning to the province where they wouldn't be allowed to get married, that province wouldn't recognize it. You would have chaos within the family law regime in Canada.

    To frame it up, I would just say I see that there's very little alternative except for the inclusion of everybody in the definition of marriage.

À  +-(1000)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. McKay, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    What we're talking about here is essentially a label. Mr. Bourget could marry somebody and ascribe to that relationship a label, and Ms. Hamel can't. That label has a certain cachet, a certain status.

    My friend here, Mr. Macklin, is wearing a fairly cheap suit—I won't even say where he bought that suit. If I go to Harry Rosen and get one of Harry's labels and stick it on there, does he have a Harry Rosen suit? I use that as an example of what we're essentially talking about here.

    Marriage has its cachet, because it has been built up over millennia to have a certain status, and that status has worked on a presumption that it's between a man and a woman. So I put the question to both Mr. Bourget and Ms. Hamel: if we change labels, will you still have a marriage?

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: As far as I'm concerned, marriage will still continue to exist, because that's the way that's best for children to be raised. But by the fact that it's not the same label, you attack the meaning of marriage itself. The label is not the thing; it's the fact of marriage. People may not be able to discern whether or not it's a label and not a Harry Rosen suit. They might take the cheap suit as marriage, whereas it's not.

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    Mr. John McKay: Mr. Macklin is quite offended that I referred to his as a cheap suit.

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    Mr. Denis Bourget: I was just quoting you.

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    The Chair: Ms. Hamel.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: In my opinion, it's more than a matter of a label.

    Earlier, Mrs. Jennings cited the example of the rights of blacks, public areas, sections in buses and so on. It's more than a label. It's a question of human rights.

    Mr. Bourget spoke about fathers earlier. It's said that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, but, in the time of our parents, there was a certain generation in which fathers were entirely absent. Isn't it preferable for there to be two parents for the children? As for older parents, won't knowing that their daughter who is with a female spouse is going to be married help them accept the relationship? I have lots to say on that because my relationship is not recognized as though I were married to a man. It's more than a label, Mr. McKay. It's a matter of human rights.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: Frankly, I disagree with you on that point. Substantively all of the rights of homosexual couples are equivalent to the rights of heterosexual couples.

    But let me go to the “separate but equal” argument, because law does go around making differences. It tries not to make discriminations, but it does makes differences. To use the separate but equal argument, for instance—again in a very mundane analogy—there was quite a bit of rolling back of law that was clearly discriminatory, but they still felt there were distinctions, for instance, in washrooms. That was a legitimate distinction, that there was a separate but equal treatment of public washrooms.

    Some people object to that, but it was still a separate but equal treatment. The question really is whether in some respects, by getting the label, you in fact get a pyrrhic victory here, in that the admission of gays to the institution of marriage would in fact change it in some manner. No one at this table really knows how the change will occur.

    I wonder whether in fact you end up with a pyrrhic victory because the label is not a label that has been earned over the millennia—the years and years—that literally billions of marriages that have gone on between men and women over those years. I wonder whether you've thought about whether the victory you seek—the label you seek—is in fact going to end up as something less than you anticipated, at the end of the day.

À  +-(1005)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McKay. And that question is directed to whom?

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    Mr. John McKay: To Ms. Hamel.

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    The Chair: Ms. Hamel, please go very quickly. I have two more, and we're over time now.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: First, it's not a victory. I figure we shouldn't always look to the past. Earlier, Madam, you said that, starting in the nineteenth century, there were, in a way, barriers to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. Like slavery, sexism was legitimized for years and years. At one point, we think things through and we say to ourselves that we have to improve our life and our society.

    It's not a victory of words. It's human relationships and the welfare of individuals that are at stake. Even for children's happiness, it is important that those rights be recognized. That won't lower the value of marriage. On the contrary, it will broaden it and open it up. We must move forward, not backward in our society.

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci.

    Mr. Cadman. Then we'll go to Monsieur Marceau for a very brief question.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I'll be very brief. I wasn't going to ask a question, but, Ms. Hamel, you just made a statement I found a little bit troubling, and I'd like some explanation.

    You said for generations fathers did not play a role in the family. Could you explain what you meant by that?

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: First, I apologize if I offended you.

[English]

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I just want an explanation.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: All right. The father was the provider and he was often out of the house. In many families, perhaps not all, the father was physically absent. In the past, the parental role was mainly assigned to the mothers, and it's very fortunate that changes have begun to be made in recent years. I'm the first person to be pleased about that. We must not say to ourselves that marriage used to be based on the mother and the father and that everything was wonderful.

    You see it even today in the case of single-parent families: when one parent is alone, whether it's the father or the mother, things are not easy. Isn't it better for there to be two parents who love the child? I heard incredible things in the committee in Quebec City, where it was said that, if both parents are together, there's no difference. That's what the children said.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Ms. Hamel, it's been said that, if the definition of marriage were changed, that might be a Pyrrhic victory. I would like to have your comments on the difference between the current definition of marriage and the previous one, which was generally as follows. I'll read it to you:

Marriage is the public union of a man and a woman; the man has complete authority, determines the direction of the family, exercises parental authority, chooses the family residence and accumulates property.

The woman owes fidelity and obedience to her husband.

    That, or something like that, was the legal definition of marriage for a very long time. In your view, when it was decided that the man and the woman would be equal in the institution of marriage, what fundamentally changed the institution in which the man was the head of the family, the manager, ultimately the boss? Did that represent a Pyrrhic victory for women?

À  +-(1010)  

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: I think that's a terrible definition. I'm sorry, but is that still the current definition?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: No, that's precisely the change...

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    Mrs. Nicole Hamel: I didn't know that. That's terrible.

[English]

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    The Chair: To the panel, thank you very much, and thank you to the committee.

    The first half of this exercise was quite inflexible, and the last piece was very flexible. You see what happens when you allow for that, so I'm going to try to keep it a little precise.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: We like flexible.

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    The Chair: I'm sure you like flexible, Mr. Ménard. It's a matter of the public record.

    To the panel, again, thank you very much.

    I'm going to adjourn for a few minutes to allow the next panel to step forward.

À  +-(1011)  


À  +-(1019)  

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    The Chair: Merci et bienvenue. I call back to order the 38th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    For the next hour we will be hearing from, as an individual, Cynthia Beaulé, from Laval University; from l'Église Vie Nouvelle de Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Frédéric Colella; and as an individual, Nancy Leclerc.

    Each of you has seven minutes to make a presentation. I'm going to go first to Madame Beaulé.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Cynthia Beaulé (Laval University, As Individual): Affiliation: Ms. Cynthia Beaulé (representative, Groupe Gai de l'Université Laval and Groupe régional d'intervention sociale de Québec) Good morning everyone.

    My name is Cynthia Beaulé, and I'm here as the representative of two groups of young people in Quebec City, the Groupe Gai de l'Université Laval, commonly called GGUL, and GRIS-Québec, the Groupe régional d'intervention sociale de Québec, a group that speaks in high schools, youth centres and Cegeps on the experience of homosexuals. I myself speak in the schools to sensitize young people to the existence of homosexuality. I represent those groups, which have a membership of some 200 young people of an average age of 25 years.

    I sent you a brief which begins with facts and figures from Statistics Canada's 2001 census, which stated that three percent of couples living common law in Canada are homosexual couples. That's only those who said so in the census, but I believe there are more, because 10 percent of the population is homosexual.

    My first question, and the reason I've come here today, is simply this: why prevent this minority from choosing to marry? Are adults in our society afraid of a minority of people who love each other?

    This is 2003, and society has evolved. You talked about that earlier. Even in legal terms, marriage has really changed. I believe that young people today are more open to homosexuality. I perceive that as someone who speaks in the high schools.

    With regard to religion, I'm from a Catholic family, and I believe I received good Catholic values such as love others as you would have them love you. That's not what prevents the existence of homosexuality, and it's not a reason to say that the Catholic Church doesn't accept homosexual marriages. It's not a reason for rejecting homosexuals. There is a diversity of religions and cultures in Canada. So we shouldn't consider only religion and religious marriage in Canada in deciding whether we should extend the institution of marriage to same-sex couples.

    I wanted to talk to you a bit about GRIS-Québec. In the type of work I do, we talk about our experience to young heterosexuals, a minority of whom may be gay or lesbian, or even bisexual. I tell them about my experience. I say how things happened when I told my parents. The kids ask us questions. We leave the field open to them.

    At the end, we distribute a questionnaire in which we ask them whether the fact that we've come to see them has changed their perception of homosexuality. They write to us that we are very brave to have gone to see them and that, yes, it has changed their perception in general. Sometimes they write to us that it didn't change their perception because their perception wasn't negative. They already had a positive perception of homosexual people.

    So young people, who hold the key to the future, are prepared to accept that there are laws and public institutions that recognize gay and lesbian marriages, I believe. Canadian law should reflect the vision of open-minded young people and accept the legal existence of same-sex couples. Young people represent the society of the future, and that's why we should adapt the laws to society's new values. I believe that the law is made to be changed as society evolves.

    The only right we're requesting, and for which I've come here, is the right to choose to marry, even though not everyone wants to marry. It's true that some homosexual couples are not interested in marrying, but they have the right to choose to do so.

À  +-(1020)  

    Young homosexual couples have told me they thought it was important to preserve the institution of marriage in Canada, among other things for matters of financial security, estate, inheritance, or because of children they might have together.

    What I retain from the comments of the young people I represent is that it is unacceptable to prevent two people who love each other from officially and legally marrying in front of their families and friends. Young homosexual couples would simply like to be recognized as such. They would like to have the right to love each other and to exist publicly without being stared at. Homophobia still exists in society, even though the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has prohibited discrimination for a very long time.

    In view of this situation, some people do not feel recognized. Consequently, they are afraid of simply holding hands in the street, as a heterosexual couple would do. This homophobia should no longer exist in public laws and institutions. Canadian law should reflect the vision of the future and the vision of young people. I believe that society in general is prepared to take this step.

À  +-(1025)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Colella.

[English]

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella (Pastor, Église Vie Nouvelle, Cap-de-la Madeleine):

    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today and share my thoughts about this. I will read from the paper I sent in.

    The purpose of these hearings is to hear the spectrum of opinions held by Canadians on the possible redefinition of marriage to include the state-sanctioned marriage of homosexual and lesbian couples. This proposed change raises a wide range of worries in the minds and the hearts of Canadians.

    I would start by urging the justice committee to recommend that the present definition of marriage be maintained, namely, that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. To redefine marriage implies that marriage is some sort of evolving institution that can be moulded to the changes within society. It further implies the negation of any moral implication of human sexual behaviour within a society. It also states the belief that society is basically free to do whatever it wants and it can set its own standards. Ultimately, such a change would reflect a philosophical and religious position that discards the concepts of any moral absolutes, of morality itself, and rejects the notion of God.

    Let me respectfully remind the members of the justice committee that the very Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is invoked by same-sex marriage advocates, starts off by declaring that Canada is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The very important equality clause, which rightly forbids any kind of discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability, does not include sexual orientation as forbidden ground for discrimination. This distinction was added to the list by the Canadian Human Rights Act and has introduced a disastrous new notion--namely, that sexual orientation, which is and has been for millennia a controversial behaviour, is now included within things that comprise the very identity of a person.

    Homosexuality is a behaviour, not a personal identity trait that cannot be changed, like race or religious beliefs. Let me be adamant in stating without equivocation that homosexuals and lesbians are people in the full sense of the term and, as such, deserve utmost respect, love, and consideration. But when we include same-sex marriage within the legal framework of our nation, we make a moral judgment that homosexuality and lesbianism are sexual options devoid of any moral implications. The latter has been done for quite some time now, and we have come to the next logical step--pushing for a redefinition of marriage.

    The question I ask is why?

    The answer is quite obvious. Homosexuals and lesbians feel discriminated against by the institution of marriage. It tells them they are different, and they want their world not to tell them they are different. But such reasoning is flawed at its root. It is like saying we should include single people in the definition of marriage because it discriminates against their singleness; it discriminates against them fiscally, and they pay more taxes than some married couples.

    Life is about distinctions and definitions, and we cannot function rationally without these distinctions. Nature and biology tell homosexuals and lesbians that they behave differently from the apparent norm of the overwhelming majority of humanity. Some homosexual activists at least have the honesty to recognize this. For example, Michael Bronsky, a radical same-sex marriage advocate, writes that homosexuality is sexually justified by pleasure alone and is completely divorced from the burden of reproduction.

    If we make the definition of marriage relative to opinion polls or vulnerable to manipulation by fringe lobby groups, what will be next? How will we justify not allowing polygamy? Will not polygamists accuse the state of discriminating against them by a definition of marriage that excludes them? How will we justify not granting marriage to other more imaginative combinations such as polyamorists, who have group marriages of anywhere from three to six adults who live together, sharing finances, children, and household responsibilities, and where every adult is expected to be in a sexual relationship with others in the group?

    If we change the definition of marriage to include homosexual and lesbian couples now, we will lose any moral and/or rational ground to exclude any other form of creative sexual social arrangement.

À  +-(1030)  

    If not for moral or religious considerations, the present definition of marriage should be upheld for pragmatic reasons. It is the definition that has best served the interests of humanity since the world began. As a lifestyle, marriage holds the key to a stable society. Serious studies upholding the genuine healthiness of marriage are legion. It is a fact that married people--let this be understood as ideal, evolving, and healthy marriage--lead healthier lives, provide the best environment for child-rearing, and ensure the perpetuation of society.

    On a strictly pragmatic level, if every adult held to faithfulness within a monogamous heterosexual marriage, our society would be free from sexually transmitted disease, broken homes, and much confusion and heartache, proving that our social problems are not with the definition of marriage but with a lack of values and morality to make marriage work.

    As Canadians, we must answer the very pragmatic question, what is good for Canada? It is interesting, or sad, that after more than 2,500 years of known history and social experimentation we sit down again with Socrates and ask, what is good?

    One good trick to find out what is good is the universality test. What would happen if everybody were to practise the thing in question? If we were all practising homosexuals and lesbians, let me suggest that Canadian society would extinguish itself within 50 years. Within 20 years, we would be a childless society. Would that be good? On the other hand, if we were all married--and stayed happily married, of course--within 10 years Canadian society would be free from all sexually transmitted disease and kids would not have to suffer the trauma of broken homes.

    We could also apply the “imagine” test. Just imagine for a moment a world where only a homosexual or lesbian couple exist. What future would such a world have? Now imagine a world where only one man and one woman exist. The possibilities are infinite and reach all the way into our present world with a promise for the future.

    These two results are sufficient, in my humble opinion, to warrant that we work very hard to promote the kinds of values that keep marriages together and not redefine it to its destruction. Marriage is an institution created to sustain child-rearing. After several thousand years of known history and experimentation, we still have found nothing else that works as well. Redefining marriage to include homosexual and lesbian couples is an irresponsible social experiment on the shoulders of future generations.

    Thank you very much.

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    The Chair: Thank you to the panel.

    Now we go to Nancy Leclerc, also for seven minutes.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc (As Individual): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I'm speaking to you today as an individual, but also as a bisexual woman, a mother who is concerned for the future of the country because my son will be living in it; as an anthropologist who has studied the variations in cultural systems regarding marriage and family; and finally, as a Canadian citizen. In this respect, I have to say, I am proud that I live in a country where we're actually able to sit down and talk about this without fear of persecution, imprisonment, being tortured, and so on. So I'm thankful for that.

    And I'd like to respectfully thank Mr. Colella for strengthening my resolve. So here I go.

    I would like to start off by pointing out that this morning so far we've discussed marriage. It has been said that marriage has always been between a man and a woman. It has also been said that has changed throughout time.

    I'd like to point out that the idea of marriage as a heterosexual, monogamous institution and the ensuing nuclear family that revolves around this is actually relatively recent in human history. Read any anthropological textbook and you will see that it has not been the norm worldwide until recently, until many, many societies were converted because of imperialism.

    So in many societies, different arrangements have been found to work. For example, the extended family, where several adults take care of the children, has been found to be very supportive for children because they have access to a wider range of people from whom they can seek support--material and emotional support.

    In my opinion, there's no proof that the nuclear family is the ideal situation in which to raise children. That said, I fully support the initiative to include same-sex marriage in the legal definition of marriage. I feel that this will contribute to the creation of a social environment where gay, lesbian, and bisexual people will be able to fulfill themselves with partners of the same sex or of the other sex, and this will lead to less suffering. When people grow up and find out that they're not heterosexual.... The way it is now, because of the lack of a legal recognition of same-sex marriages they see this as something out of the ordinary; therefore they have to question it. So there's a lot of suffering, a lot of questioning. Changing the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, same-sex marriage, would enable people to view this as a legitimate avenue and not have to suffer so much.

    That leads me to my next point. As I mentioned before, there have been different arrangements in human history, including polygamy. This leads me also to recommend that eventually group marriages in fact should be recognized. As I said before, this has been present in many cultures up until recently. In some places it still exists, although people are trying to change it now because of imperialism. But the way I'm defining group marriages here is group marriage based on polyamory--being the capacity to love more than one person.

    I'd like to point out that the common vision of polygamy is that when people hear this word, they think of, for example, the Mormons, where one man has a bunch of wives and has complete domination over them. We hear stories--I don't know if they're true or not--of child abuse. So people panic when they hear this.

    I'd like to point out that polyamory is based on the same values as monogamy: respect, cooperation, sharing, and love, and by no means would children raised in this environment be any worse off than in any other situation.

    That brings me to the next point. The most common argument against same-sex marriages and group marriages is that it's bad for the children. There's no proof of this. As I said before, it stems from a vision that the nuclear family is the norm, which in fact it is not. The nuclear family has cut off children from wider networks of adults to which they previously had access in extended families. So given our cultural trait of leaving our families of origin and not having access to these wider networks, I think plural marriages or group marriages, call them what you will, give children the opportunity to have several adults caring for them.

À  +-(1035)  

    This is good at a practical level as well, because financially it's easier as a group. Also, the household chores are shared more easily. As I said before, polyamory is based on all these values that can be more easily transmitted to the children, and on a basic, practical level, there are more adults there to take care of the children. So it's a good solution and a good adaptation in order to be able to supply a safe and caring environment for children, for all these reasons.

    These unions, both same-sex unions and group unions, are being formed as we speak and will continue to be formed regardless of whether the government approves of them or not, and children are being raised like this. So to deny people legal recognition such as marriage is not good for the children who are being raised in these situations. For example, if you have four people raising a child and the two biological parents die, then the other parents that the child has grown to love might be taken away from them because of the law. I think that's pretty scary.

    My last point is that to not legally recognize the right of people who are willing to engage in this long-term commitment towards each other, to deny them the right to this legal recognition is just plain old discrimination, whether they are of the same sex, of different sexes, or whether it's several--say, two, three, or four adults--who want to engage in this contract together.

    So that's my opinion.

À  +-(1040)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Breitkreuz, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Thank you very much. I appreciate your coming before us today to make your views known.

    One of the things you really disagree on as presenters, amongst each other, is that society is changing and that we should just accept this fact. Two of you argue that society is changing, so get used to it, embrace it, and so on; and one of you makes it absolutely clear that the changes in society are not positive and that we should not be accepting them.

    I would like to ask you whether, in your view, in the past, if we look at history, all changes that society has embraced were positive; or were there civilizations in the past that embraced some of these changes and in fact the embracing of those changes was very detrimental to that society and may in fact have even ended that society? I would like you to reflect on that, because that's an obvious difference that you all have.

    One of the main arguments that we've had coming before this committee is that if we look at the historical evidence, marriage has provided a very stable factor to keep families intact and in fact provides a cohesiveness within that society on which to build a sound society. So I'd like you all to reflect on whether there is evidence in the past that there were civilizations or societies that declined because they too hastily embraced change.

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    The Chair: Do you wish anyone in particular to respond, Mr. Breitkreuz?

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: No. All three need to comment on that, because the views presented this morning were vastly different on that.

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    The Chair: Madame Leclerc.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: In regard to what kinds of systems or changes have been embraced, I'd like to give the example of Native American cultures before European contact. In several of these cultures, same-sex unions were actually present—maybe not as the norm, but they were certainly not frowned upon. Polygamy was also present in Native North American cultures. It has been shown by ethno-historians, such as Eleanor Leacock, that in marriages among the Montagnais-Naskapi right here in Quebec, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, or group marriages, women were much more autonomous. There was mutual respect; everybody had the tasks they had to do, but there was respect for everybody's worth.

    When the Europeans, specifically the Jesuits, came along, they started telling the Naskapi, “Look, this is wrong what you're doing. You have to do it our way”. They started telling the men, “Why are you letting the women rule?” Over time, they basically coerced the Native Americans into adopting the system of heterosexual monogamy.

    I mentioned one of the many side effects earlier, that the nuclear family isolated both women and children from wider networks. They isolated people into small family units, whereas previously people had large networks of people to work with. So that's a change that was very detrimental to many Native American cultures.

    I guess I am deviating from your question a little bit, but this is just coming back to me. Because you were asking whether there were cultures in the past with different modes of marriage, I wanted to point out that there were, but they were then coerced into changing, which was actually detrimental.

À  +-(1045)  

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    The Chair: Monsieur Colella.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: The question was, are all changes positive? As I perceive what you're saying and what I'm hearing on both sides, the argument here is that because it is change, it should be accepted—as if change itself were an argument to implement this change of definition.

    I'm not an historian or an anthropologist, and so on, but I'm very concerned that this change would be detrimental. There have been changes in history that may not have been along these lines, but that have been extremely detrimental to society. We can think about governmental and ideological changes in Europe during the last century that have been horrendous for people.

    So, no, because society changes is not an argument to make this change.

    I don't know if I will be deviating a little bit from the question, but what is important to me is that we're talking about moral absolutes. If there are no moral absolutes, then by all means let's do whatever we want. Then there is nothing we have to answer to. But I'm obviously a pastor, a Bible person, a church man, and so on, so my concern will always come back to this, that there are some absolutes out there that we need to abide by.

    When we go out of these moral absolutes....For example, I know that the Polynesians used to function as polyamorists, and I've just recently come upon some research that actually said it was not that good. There was extreme strife and jealousy among these groups, and so on. If everybody is having sex with everybody, who is my daddy? You don't know who your daddy is, and I think that's very detrimental to the identification of children with parents. I think it is extremely important, especially for young boys, to identify with their fathers. I need to know who my dad is.

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    The Chair: Madame Beaulé.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Cynthia Beaulé: As for changing the laws in accordance with the needs of society, I have a law degree, and I don't believe that the laws merely exist in order to require us to do things, particularly in the case of marriage, an institution that is part of people's private lives, their love lives, people's emotions, the love between two persons.

    Of course one could ask the question whether we should not simply abolish marriage. Have we gotten to that point? I don't believe that's necessary. The institution of marriage must be preserved, but it is important to change the laws as society evolves. That's what I learned at law school.

    As for evolution and changes, one wonders whether that's always been positive. There have obviously been negative changes in society. I cite the example of Socrates. Homosexuality always existed in Ancient Greece. It was normal for a man to be married to a woman, to have children and to go to the baths to see his friends.

    In the twelfth century, the Church decreed that marriage had to be heterosexual. Prior to that, two persons of the same sex could marry. Why did the Church do that? To increase the birth rate. There was a reason for that development. At the time, the Church made the laws, and it amended the law as society evolved at that time.

    I believe that homosexual marriage would provide couples with stability that would enable them to have children. This is another situation that will have to be resolved later. But we're concerned with marriage at the moment. Let's simply accept the fact that two persons love each other and that their union can be legally and officially recognized, and we'll discuss children later.

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    The Chair: Mr. Marceau, you have seven minutes.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to the witnesses for coming to present their views this morning.

    Reverend Colella, I would like to start with you. I want to give you the opportunity to enlighten us on your response to my colleague Breitkreuz, to whom you spoke about changes. I want to ensure that you didn't draw an analogy between the possible change to the definition of marriage and the example of European ideology in the twentieth century that you cited to us. You didn't want to draw that kind of analogy, did you?

À  +-(1050)  

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: Could you be clearer, please?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You were asked whether change was good or bad.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: The question was this: are all changes positive? The word “all” encompasses everything.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So you weren't drawing an analogy.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: There were obviously disastrous ideological changes in Europe. I'm trying to explain to you that change in society is not a valid argument to say that the laws must be changed. That's a mistake.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: I want to go back to your brief, where you cite Socrates: “What is good?” You continue, saying:

    One good trick to find out what is good is the universality test: “What happens if everybody would practise the thing in question?” If we were all practising homosexuals and lesbians, let me suggest that Canadian society would extinguish itself within 50 years.

    Are you telling us that if we ever allowed same-sex marriages, heterosexuals would become homosexuals?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: No.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So how can you say...?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: Allow me to clarify this. We want to know whether a thing is good. To determine whether it is good, let's hypothetically apply the test, that is to say homosexual marriage, to everyone. If everyone became homosexual, there would be no more children being born.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: That's a quite obvious breakdown in logic. In any case, any argument pushed to the logical extreme would be ridiculous. Do you believe that if ever homosexual marriage were on offer, there would be more people waking up one morning and saying to themselves they have a choice between a homosexual marriage and a heterosexual marriage and would decide that morning to choose homosexual marriage? Is that your theory?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: That's not what I said. The question was how does one determine whether a thing is good. Here we're talking about a society that no longer has any absolute moral criteria and in which everything is relative.

    However, when you try to determine whether something is good, you have to ask yourself whether it works if you apply it to everyone. It appears that it doesn't work in this case; that's all. That's one of the points I tried to make and it has nothing to do with what you're trying to prove.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I'm simply trying to clarify your viewpoint and to understand you clearly. You talked about a moral argument; you said earlier that you believe in the Bible and that your comments were based in large part on your interpretation of Holy Scripture; I entirely respect that. So I'm going to ask you what Church you belong to.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: L'Église Vie Nouvelle des Assemblées de la Pentecôte du Canada de Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Representatives of the United Church and the Unitarian Church as well as a few rabbis told this committee that they would like to have the opportunity to marry same-sex couples and that their interpretation of Holy Scripture permitted them to do so, but that they could not act on that interpretation and their freedom of religion because the law prohibited them from doing so. They would like to marry same-sex couples, but the law does not permit them to do so.

    However, it could be possible to permit same-sex couples to marry in churches wishing to celebrate that type of marriage, while not requiring churches to do so if they are opposed to it.

    I would like to have your opinion on the way in which we could balance fundamental issues such as freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience of atheists, for example—we have to respect that choice—and people who are members of churches such as yours which do not want to marry same-sex couples. What can we do so that people who want to marry can do so and so that the church sanctions their union, without however requiring churches such as yours to celebrate such marriages? Do you have a suggestion on that point?

À  +-(1055)  

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: I'm a bit confused by your question. You spoke about the testimony of a few rabbis and pastors. However, I'm sure that those in the evangelical world who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible are a very small minority. The question is not which little group here or there is right, in view of the fact that we're talking about 50,000 different groups.

    I'm trying to express a point of view; it's mine and it is shared by...

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But do we agree that you don't want to impose it on others?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: Despite all the discussions, we'll ultimately have something imposed on us. We're talking about marriage here. So we're talking about basic philosophical presuppositions from which we'll draw conclusions.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Would permitting same-sex marriages impose anything at all on your married life? Would your Church have the impression that changes it does not want are being imposed on it?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: If I have a right not to marry same-sex couples, it goes without saying that it imposes nothing on me. However, as a Canadian citizen, this situation troubles me because, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, it's not a good thing for Canada. You'll note that I didn't even refer to the Bible.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Are you comfortable with the idea of civil union in Quebec?

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: No.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But do you accept it?

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.

    Mr. Colella.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: No. There wasn't much debate on the subject, and everything was done very quickly. There was a unanimous vote in the National Assembly, and we accept the facts; we have no choice, in the sense that what is done is done. The situation reflects our society. Nevertheless, I don't agree because I believe it's a step in the wrong direction. For the reasons I've already mentioned, the situation raises a problem for me.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Colella.

    Mr. McKay.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair.

    Thank you, witnesses.

    Just for clarification, Ms. Leclerc, it's not clear from your paper what your qualifications are. It wasn't clear to me if you were speaking as an individual or as an anthropologist.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: It's a little bit of both. I am speaking as an individual; I'm not speaking as someone who's affiliated with any particular institution. But I'm basing my argument on my own life experience and also the studies I've done. So it's a little bit of both.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay. That was just a point a clarification.

    My friend here with the cheap suit wanted to know what you're studying.

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    The Chair: The chair would point out that Mr. Macklin is very dapper.

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    Mr. John McKay: Yes, it's a dapper cheap suit.

    I'm sorry; what have you been studying?

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: What have I been studying? Do you mean at university?

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    Mr. John McKay: Yes, what did you study at the university?

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: I received my bachelor's degree and my master's degree in social anthropology at Concordia right here in Montreal and I specialized in gender relations, intercultural relations, and the evolution of sexuality.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay, that's good. That's what we wanted to clarify.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: I presented that a little in a rush.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay, thank you.

    The current definition of marriage is one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. The argument that's put forward by the gay community is essentially that the gender qualification is a discriminatory thing under section 15 of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and therefore it should be opened up.

    Mr. Cadman has frequently raised the question, if the arguments are with respect to gender, why doesn't the same argument apply to numbers? In fact when we asked that question of the people at the Law Reform Commission, their comment was that really the argument that applies to the discriminatory aspects of gender appear also to apply to the discriminatory aspects of number: if there's no real gender definition, why is it not also discriminatory to have a number?

    So I put it to Ms. Beaulé: I'm just curious about your response to the representations by Madame Leclerc. What is the argument, to people who think marriage should be opened up to more than two people, that this is not discriminatory under section 15, or any other based argument?

Á  +-(1100)  

[Translation]

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    Ms. Cynthia Beaulé: That's a very interesting question. Marriage is often seen as a form of stability enabling two persons to start a family. I haven't conducted any anthropological studies either, but I found Ms. Leclerc's speech very interesting. It's true that stability is possible.

    I'm going to give you a personal answer because I don't know what the people I represent think about the subject. I consider myself bisexual. I've had relationships with men and I'm now with a woman. I understand people who choose to live in a threesome, but I would have trouble doing that because of the jealousy that can exist between a couple.

    I think it's already difficult to live as two because, among other things, of the conflicts that arise and that must be managed. I have a bad temper, and it's hard to manage that as two. It would be much more difficult in a threesome. In addition, there are children.

    In my opinion, the first change that should be made is simply to give same-sex couples the stability that heterosexual couples enjoy. I think that's the most important thing for the moment. Polygamy, on the other hand, is a much more delicate topic which it could be interesting to discuss in other circumstances.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: The arguments she puts forward for discrimination against her view of marriage are virtually identical to the arguments you put forward for the discrimination of marriage. On the stability question, well, stability can go several different ways. Like you, I too would have difficulty fathoming how a ménage à trois—or more—would actually work. Really, what it comes down to is whose discrimination are we going to prefer? That's where we're heading with this argument.

    Mr. Colella, your paper referenced this issue. l guess my question to you is, really, what's the great harm? All of these forms of human relationships are recognized in some form or another. They've been in and out of anthropological and historical societies over millennia; people arrange their affairs as they see fit.

    From your viewpoint, what's the great harm? Why shouldn't this committee simply recommend that the definition of marriage be changed to...? I have to start to go through this. Really, there would be no definition of marriage. You couldn't have one woman and one man, it would just be persons. It wouldn't even be “to the exclusion of all others”. There would be no definition of marriage. That is where you would end up.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McKay.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: To start off, it would be to me a moral issue. It would offend God, according to my understanding of scripture. That's the first point.

    The second point is that I think it goes against the way we are made. There's a sense in us that wants faithfulness from a marriage partner. I've been married for 16 years with the same person, and it works. I have two sons. It works. They are stable, healthy boys. It works. But when you throw a second person in there, how...? It's challenge enough to make a marriage work with one woman. I can't imagine what it would be with two or three or four fighting amongst themselves, or all the possibilities that could go there. Just the way we're made demands faithfulness from one person. That would be my response.

Á  +-(1105)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Cadman, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. McKay mentioned that I have brought up a number of times the whole issue of where we're going with this, where we wind up. I must say I've been taken to task by a number of witnesses for even bringing up the issue. Some of the argument has been that they've never heard of anybody advocating for polygamy. Well, I think we just had our first one.

    Ms. Leclerc, on another issue you spoke of large networks for caregiving or providing care for the children; in other words, the community raises the child. My question would be, are you saying that in those situations, those societies, those arrangements, there was no special recognition or status given to the union that actually produced the child?

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: Are you asking me if there was a special status accorded to the biological parents of the child?

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Well, to the union that produced the child.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: It depends. There's so much variation. There are degrees in some cases. It's so variable I can't say there was one particular kind of arrangement—it's so broad. But there are cases where, for example, yes, there was an initial marriage. But then, say, you had other co-wives come aboard to help out and they had children of their own; or in some cases, all the women living there were all considered mothers. Because of the language difference too, it's hard to transfer this to our cultural framework, because in different languages the terms can have different significations in different scenarios. It's very hard to make any generalizations.

    My main point was that there is a lot of variation.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    We'll go to Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    An interesting point was raised here from two perspectives. Reverend Colella, you raised the issue of the potential of a childless society. Ms. Leclerc, you mentioned the fact that a monogamous relationship with heterosexuality was brought forward as a suggestion as to how to increase the population.

    You did not bring that forward?

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: No, I believe it was—

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: I thought you said the reason homosexual relationships were set aside in Greek history was that in fact they were trying to create a relationship that in effect—

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: No.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Oh, I'm sorry, it was.... I thought I heard the right position, but obviously I had the wrong person.

    Then I'll ask Ms. Leclerc, do you believe from your study that we have a population problem within this country? And based on that fact, do you believe that the direction we choose to go in with respect to this issue may have a bearing on whether or not we have a greater population problem—in other words, a deficiency of replacing ourselves?

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    The Chair: Madame Leclerc.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: Are you speaking in terms of population density?

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: I'm speaking in terms of replacing ourselves. At the moment, we don't seem to be doing that. This country seems to be going forward on the basis of a need for immigration to maintain our population. Obviously the population issue comes up through this process. We have two different opinions being expressed as to what is the best way to pursue our population. We're looking at the effects of any decisions we make. Population obviously could be considered to be one of those effects. Could you give us your opinion on where you believe we ought to be going as a society if we want to maintain our population?

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Macklin.

    Ms. Leclerc.

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    Ms. Nancy Leclerc: In my opinion, it doesn't so much have a bearing on population density, because throughout history humans have tended to adapt to their natural resources. Now we're in a state of mostly cultural adaptation, so whether people reproduce or not has become a choice and not a survival factor any more.

    I don't really see how this has any bearing. If people choose to live in homosexual arrangements, and they adopt children, the children are still there. There are plenty of heterosexual couples who have unwanted children. There are still so many unwanted pregnancies;and that's a whole other ball of wax, but there are people needed to adopt those. Whether the people who adopt these children are in plural marriages, or monogamous heterosexual or homosexual marriages, I think either way they can provide safe and caring homes for the children who need families. Yes, in a roundabout kind of way, it does have an impact, a positive one.

Á  +-(1110)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I'm going to go to Mr. Ménard, but I want to tell the committee that we're already over. I have Mr. Ménard and Ms. Jennings still wanting to speak.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Mr. Colella, I found one aspect of your testimony quite appealing and another deeply irritating. I'm going to start by the one I found appealing.

    It's true that a legislator must be concerned with moral values. At the same time, you know, the Supreme Court has said that there is no state religion in Canada and that religious perspectives shouldn't lead us to pass laws, except as regards freedom of religion.

    But there's one point on which I don't follow your reasoning. I've been a homosexual man for 40 years, and I'm trying to see in what way I am less moral than you. It's quite all right to cloak oneself in the shroud of morality, and I completely agree on that, but I don't think you gave any rigorous and convincing arguments in your presentation. I believe that religious feeling exists and I believe that feelings of love exist as well. I'm not going to outline the distinction between the two because this isn't the time to do so, but I'm trying to understand how the feelings of love that can animate two homosexual men are different from those between a heterosexual man and a woman, and how there's something immoral in that. I would like you to be kind enough to explain that to me very precisely and to tell us your definition of morals.

    Anthropology isn't much help to us in passing or defeating a bill on the recognition of same-sex marriages. There have been all kinds of experiments throughout history, but what actuates us as legislators is the right to equality. The polygamy argument is not a sound one because there is no support in society for a right to polygamy in view of the fact that it violates equality among individuals. If a man has four wives or a woman has four husbands, that violates the primary value of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is the right to equality; it's based on a relationship of exploitation, as the legislator understands it. So I'm gently challenging you to convince me that I'm less moral than you.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: There are groups in Canada that defend polygamy. There is a legal vacuum in that area, but this opens the door to them.

    As for equality, Mr. Ménard, I owe you the highest degree of respect and consideration because, in my view, you are my equal in view of the fact that you were created in God's image. So there's no difference between us on that point. You are entitled to the greatest respect.

    As regards loving, human feelings and all that, I can only acknowledge those realities in your life. You aren't a machine. You're a human being, like me, and you have the same needs. Where we differ in moral terms is that I still claim—and I'm coming back to my perhaps medieval argument—that God exists, that he has established standards and that those standards are not negotiable and do not change. Among those standards, there is a moral law that tells us that homosexuality is immoral. That's my answer.

[English]

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    The Chair: Madame Jennings.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Mr. Colella, if one takes that reading, then in the Bible people of African descent were also seen as being less human than people of European descent. The Mormon Church in the United States had that dogma right up until the 20th century. So I think you might want to look at it again.

    My question is not on that. My question is on a statement you made, that homosexuality is a behaviour and not a personal identity characteristic, like race. You named some other personal identity characteristics that cannot be changed, but you say that homosexuality can be changed because it is a behaviour.

    I would like to know on what science you've based that statement, because part of your core argument for opposing legal recognition of marriage between same sexes is based on this dogma.

Á  +-(1115)  

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: Let me answer first that the Bible states very clearly the equality of all people, and it does reveal to us some history and some things people did that were not necessarily endorsed by the Bible. That's first. As to African descent, my assistant pastor is of African origin, so be assured that I have complete respect for all human beings of all colours. And, yes, research is legion on this. I didn't bring it with me and I can't quote names, but there is and I've done my reading. I think I've done my homework.

    Yes, it is a behaviour, and there are many homosexuals who are unhappy in their state. It's a struggle to come to a point of accepting it. They have to go through all these things. It's not an easy thing to go through. Some people have a lot of courage, like Mr. Ménard and others, but it is a behaviour that can be changed.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: That's your opinion.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: That's fine. But there...I lost my thought there.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: You said it is a behaviour that can be changed.

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    Rev. Frédéric Colella: Yes, it is. I've seen it. I've seen men change. I've seen people walk out of that behaviour and make a choice of changing.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Reverend Colella, and thank you, Mrs. Jennings.

[English]

    Thank you to the panel.

    We're running behind, and I would ask the next panel to come immediately to the table so that we can reconvene very quickly. And thank you very much to the panel leaving. Merci.

    I suspend for two minutes.

Á  +-(1116)  


Á  +-(1118)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): I'd like to call this meeting back to order, please. We are running a little bit behind time, and I want to try to make up a bit of time.

    We have our next panel before us. With us is Professor Hugo Cyr, Faculté de science politique et de droit, Université du Québec à Montréal; Sarah McNeill and Kim D'Souza, from Preserving Marriage for Young Canadians; and Michel Émery, appearing as an individual.

    You've probably observed the procedures of the committee. It's seven minutes presentation, and I'll be fairly firm about the seven minutes. I'll be trying to get your attention around six minutes or so, and then there's the question and answer, first the opposition and then to the government members.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr (Professor, Faculté de science politique et de droit, Université du Québec à Montréal, As Individual): Affiliation: Prof. Hugo Cyr (as individual) Thank you for inviting me.

    A number of people have addressed the question of the right to equality and the recognition of same-sex marriages. I won't dwell on that point because it has been addressed at length. However, if there are any questions, I will be pleased to answer them.

    Instead, my remarks will focus on a question which appears to be on the lips of a number of persons, the question whether Parliament can recognize same-sex marriages. Thus, is Parliament, in a way, bound by the text of the Constitution? However, the purpose of what I'm going to explain to you is to show that not only can Parliament recognize same-sex unions through marriage, but that that is in fact the only option that is consistent with the primary purpose of giving Parliament jurisdiction over marriage and divorce. I'm going to briefly present five points.

    First, I will remind you that Parliament does not have general jurisdiction over family law; that is to say that filiation, estates and mutual rights and obligations between spouses are legislated by the provinces as part of their jurisdiction over property and civil rights. It seems quite curious that the provinces were granted authority in family law but that Parliament was granted exceptional jurisdiction over marriage and divorce.

    To clearly understand the logic behind that, you must go back in Canadian constitutional history, in the history of the debates. There we discover that the main reason why Parliament was granted jurisdiction over marriage and divorce is that, in view of a disagreement or absence of agreement, for religious reasons, what constituted marriage, Parliament was granted jurisdiction in order to ensure coordination of the recognition of matrimonial states. So the primary objective was to ensure that a person's marriage in one province would be recognized in another province.

    That's essentially the first point. It's the provinces that have jurisdiction in family law. Parliament has exceptional jurisdiction over the recognition of the status of marriage and divorce, thus over the obtaining of the status of married person and over the dissolution or loss of the status of married person through divorce.

    Second, I want to talk about the concept of marriage. Some people analyze the concept of marriage historically, saying that it's only for a man and a woman; others say that that's false in conceptual terms because there are historical differences. If you stay on the conceptual level only, there's no simple answer.

    However, constitutional law teaches us that there must be an evolving interpretation. As mentioned earlier, the term “person” has been interpreted in a progressive manner based on the objectives pursued by the Constitution. However to interpret the concept of marriage correctly, you have to go back and look at the objectives of that allocation of power. That's what I'm going to do in the third point.

    What was the objective? In 1867, as a result, in particular, of tensions between Catholics and Protestants, people did not recognize the same marriages. Catholics did not recognize civil marriage, the rules defining “incest” were not necessarily the same, the same age for marriage was not recognized and the prohibited degrees were not the same. So there were a number of differences.

    To ensure that a marriage celebrated in Ontario would be recognized as a valid marriage when the individuals went to Quebec, legislative authority was conferred on Parliament. The objective was to avoid conflicting statutes. That was the primary objective.

Á  +-(1120)  

    There would have been other possibilities. It could have been said, as in the United States, that each province has responsibility for recognizing the marriage of another province. That was the method used in the United States, and it was a total failure: the states did not mutually recognize marriages. That's why that option was avoided.

    So the primary objective was to recognize and ensure the stability of matrimonial status in order to permit immigration from province to province, to promote trade and to foster the integration of the various parts of the country. The way to achieve that objective is to recognize same-sex marriages because a problem that arose in 1867 has arisen again today. For religious reasons, some people do not agree on what a valid marriage should be. That's exactly the same problem, and the solution is the same.

    Fourth, I would say that the solution is recognition of same-sex marriages.

    Fifth, in refusing to recognize same-sex marriage, Parliament not only fails to achieve its objective, but also runs counter to it, since it encourages the provinces to create different special statuses which will not necessarily be recognized from province to province. It thus creates conflicts of law and unstable legal relations, and that has very significant consequences, for example, for the banks, debtors and creditors.

    Let's take the example of a mortgage on a family home. If two persons are married or living in a civil union in Quebec, for example, there are special rules regarding the family home. Will those rules be applicable to two persons from Nova Scotia living in a domestic partnership who come to Quebec? The bank will want to know. It's not clear for the moment. All those rules may be changed from province to province. So the only way to ensure unity and stability is to recognize same-sex marriage. Thank you.

Á  +-(1125)  

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you.

    Mr. D'Souza.

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza (Preserving Marriage for Young Canadians): Thank you for this opportunity to bring a youth perspective to what will possibly be the most significant decision in legal history with regard to the social reality of marriage. As the constituency that would be most affected by the redefinition of marriage, we are advocating caution and encouraging Parliament to give this complex issue more time for discussion and exposure in the public arena.

    We are the generation that experienced first-hand the effects of recent legal changes to marriage, especially no-fault divorce, and we will be the ones most impacted by any further legal changes to marriage. When no-fault divorce was legislated, experts predicted that it would have no long-term effects on marriage or children. However, the first longitudinal study by Judith Wallerstein demonstrated that, among other adverse effects, children of divorce have greater insecurity and have more difficulty in realizing successful, stable marriages. It also demonstrates that the impact of no-fault divorce is not limited to children of divorce, but extends to the entire generation that grew up in a divorce culture. It has taught the impermanence and the transitory nature of marriage.

    Today's young adults are more concerned with marital instability than older adults are. We don't want to live another social experiment brought about by legislation passed without sufficient study and reflection. We really don't understand scholars such as Anne-Marie Ambert who, having acknowledged the lack of research on the subject, still argue for the changes.

    The case for caution is further highlighted by the huge difference in the marriage views of generation X and the baby boomer generation. For example, on marriage as a parenthood partnership, a Rutgers University survey shows that 40% of young adults agree that parents should not divorce but should stay together for the sake of the children, while only 15% of baby boomers think the same thing. Having lived through the impact of no-fault divorce, we see the need for marriage to be more child centred, whereas the baby boomer generation thinks that children are happier when parents are living happier lives, but apart.

    Approximately 88% of young people agree that the divorce rate is too high and society would be better off if we had fewer divorces; 47% agree that laws should be changed so divorces are more difficult to get.

    In light of the concern that young people have for marriage in general, the lack of vocalization by young Canadians about same-sex marriage laws should not be completely interpreted as consent. Many in our generation are unable to articulate ideas at all on this issue. We lack the language to discuss the nature and significance of marriage, because the dominant discourse surrounding marriage is simply not conducive to adequate expression of our experiences with marriage. The rest of our presentation highlights what these discourses are and why we find them problematic.

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill (Preserving Marriage for Young Canadians): We believe it is part of a falsely reductive trend to ask whether marriage is either about love or procreation when it is in fact both--both/and. This is like asking whether real parenthood is intentional, genetic, legal, gestational, psychological, or something else. Nobody really parses the marriage question in this way, and we don't think the law should either.

    Marriage is about a dyadic relationship between husband and wife, but defining marriage as a “close relationship between two people” seems inadequate. Historically central concerns, including the procreation and education of children, the management of the unique heterosexual ecology that bridges sex differences, the perpetuation of the human species, and the protection of the relationship between children and their biological parents, cannot be brushed away.

    The fundamental uniqueness of marriage consists in its ability to combine all these aspects together. The importance of a robust marriage culture, its role in providing a societal frame that encourages this integration, is essential. We don't believe a reductionist definition can do that.

    One of the primary frameworks implicitly adopted for this discussion is that of human rights. However, it appears an inadequate description of the nature of marriage.

    One problem is that the inevitable tension between individual and group rights is resolved through the trumping of one right over another. This results in a no-win situation. Moreover, within the rights tradition, marriage is seen as a relationship between two individuals, and any two individuals can marry provided they do so within the framework of the institution, on marriage's own terms. This means any individual, irrespective of “race, nationality or religion” and even sexual orientation, may marry provided he or she meets the demands of the institution. One such characteristic is marrying a person of the opposite sex.

    In the overturning of the miscegenation laws, interracial couples were allowed to marry because the individuals were being denied entrance into marriage despite meeting all the criteria, which are, as listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that it be between “men and women of full age” and “with free and full consent.” The definition did not change in this case.

    The anthropological base, social ecology, and the role of marriage in society should be considered instead. We need to acknowledge that marriage is, according to the universal declaration, the “natural and fundamental” unit of society. The state recognizes it, but it was not created by the state. Looking at marriage as a rights issue does not address the long history of marriage and its significance in the human experience for millennia. These kinds of considerations seem much more adequate to the question at hand.

    The same-sex marriage debate is also the latest platform for the advance of an ideology of “family diversity” in Canadian law, education, and popular culture. This ideology caters to wide-ranging financial, emotional, and lifestyle needs of middle- and upper-class adults. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, this dominant cultural message has been hammered home to children in movies, books, songs, and education. Families are whatever adults choose to make them, and children must learn to fit in, embrace, and celebrate this diversity.

    We were taught to adjust to and celebrate the increasingly fragmented patterns of family as “family diversity” to the point that we feel guilty about questioning the quality of family life. According to Dr. Norman Hoffman, head of McGill's mental health department, in the 1970s students would speak quite openly about the impact and suffering caused by their parents' divorce and their family situation, whereas now, those who suffer depression or emotional disorder are extremely reluctant to point to their family experience as one explanation for these difficulties. Our generation sees the need to cease the mantra-like chants of “family diversity” and begin to find our own voice. Are there reasonable and creative ways of channelling diversity in order to promote human well-being? Do we have the right to uphold and affirm forms of family life that promote unique values and purposes within our human society?

    The desire for inclusion and the desire to recognize difference are two distinct yet related moral passions in contemporary Canadian society, especially among Canadian youth. However, when they become absolutes in themselves, they cease to represent their original motivation and become ideologies. Ideology is characterized by its preference for symbols over people, no matter what the intentions of those who hold the ideology may be.

    The move to redefine marriage is ideologically driven and will foster neither diversity nor inclusion. To redefine marriage in a way that is descriptive of homosexual relationships but not descriptive of heterosexual marriage is to suppress the cultural language that promotes their difference. Consequently, we will severely limit the ability to express heterosexual identity as well as homosexual identity. According to lesbian theorist, Ladelle McWhorter, among others, the definition of marriage proposed by advocates of same-sex marriage will not be able to accommodate the reality of heterosexual experience. Canadian culture and law then should indeed protect such differences and protect the diversity we aspire to recognize and live with.

    It is therefore that we are advocating a case for caution.

Á  +-(1130)  

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you very much.

    Michel Emery.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Michel Emery (As Individual): Affiliation: Mr. Michel Émery (As Individual) In our modern society, democratic countries tend to respect fundamental principles such as equality, equity and justice. Those same countries legalize respect for those principles by entrenching them in a charter of rights and freedoms.

    However, we note that, between theory and practice, there have been some slip-ups, such as the decisions rendered by the courts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec requiring that marriage be for heterosexual partners, thus violating constitutional guarantees respecting equality.

    Homosexuals are constantly appealing to those charters of rights and freedoms and to the courts to have their concerns recognized. It is time for governments to legislate to eliminate all unequal recognition of individual identity.

    A society that tolerates inequalities among the people that make it up cannot be a respectable society. And yet that is the observation I make of the current situation regarding marriage and the recognition of same-sex unions.

    The various problem situations stem from the definition of the word “marriage” in Le Petit Robert, that is to say the union between one man and one woman.

    First of all, the word “marriage” should be redefined as the union between two persons.

    In addition, I am one of those persons who believes that, for reasons of equality, governments should treat all conjugal relations in an identical manner. Leaving the question of marriage to the persons involved and to their religious institutions would be irresponsible.

    There are many aspects of marriage: social, religious, emotional and financial, to name a few. Marriage has legal consequences, including a full range of social benefits and obligations under federal, provincial and territorial statutes.

    So there's no question of the government's vacating this civil sphere, that is to say marriage, in order to subcontract it to the various religious orders.

    Second, the thinking of parliamentarians should evolve based on the various changes experienced in society. The government should abolish what was adopted in 1999, which preserved heterosexual marriage; what was adopted in 2000, that is to say section 1.1 of the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, which concerned the legitimate union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others; and, lastly, what it adopted in 2002, that is to say section 5 of the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act No. 1, which confirms heterosexual marriage in Quebec. The government should recognize that civil marriage entails the same rights as those granted under religious marriage, in all areas.

    The current legislation affords some recognition of various groups of unmarried individuals which may give rise to numerous interpretations, doubts and, consequently, in security.

    The notion of spouse results in uncertainty and administrative confusion. Common law spouses are treated equally with regard to social benefits and obligations, but unequally as regards eligibility for those benefits, full protection for their families and children under the law and equal and full legal recognition of their union.

    The decision to marry should be available to persons of the same sex, as it is to opposite-sex couples. All individuals and groups should be protected from discrimination. This is a fundamental matter of equality and the right to participate fully in our society.

    In Canada, we should no longer talk about unions of unmarried spouses, common law spouses, civil union or domestic partnership. All these should be included in civil marriage. The specific characteristics of the various groups of unmarried spouses gives rise to ambivalence, insecurity and confusion, as may be seen from the problem situations created between levels of government.

    Civil marriage would group together all unions of persons not wishing to be married religiously and would confer the same benefits and obligations on everyone.

    It is high time that we became the second country in the world to permit same-sex marriages. As a result, a couple could be legally married in a civil ceremony instead of a religious ceremony.

    I therefore submit the following recommendations: that the notion of marriage be redefined; that the statutory provision stating that marriage must be between heterosexuals be abolished; that civil marriage be created and that it encompass all unions of unmarried couples and guarantee, in the same way as religious marriage, the same benefits and provisions, regardless of sexual orientation.

    Yes, marriage plays an important role in our society. For people who enter into it, it involves love, stability, equality, justice and future protection. It is for the government alone to regulate marriage and to ensure that the fundamental principles of justice and equality can be respected in the various mechanisms which society establishes.

Á  +-(1135)  

    Yes, marriage should embrace all unions of unmarried spouses, whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex spouses. The government would have to legislate on civil marriage and regulate it in the same way as religious marriage.

    Thank you.

Á  +-(1140)  

[English]

+-

    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Breitkreuz, seven minutes.

+-

    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much to the presenters who have come forward this morning.

    I've talked to many people across this country, and they've asked us, what are you doing holding these hearings with the justice committee across Canada?

    I find it very interesting that we have a couple of young people this morning presenting to us--and I appreciate your presentation--reflecting the views of many of the young people I have met across the country. We've been given the impression in this committee that a previous presenter here this morning speaks for the majority of young people in this country, but I think, on balance, you probably reflect the views of very, very many young people in this country. They have said very much what you have said: we don't want to be part of another social experiment.

    I think we very often miss the point of all this. It's not about rights; it's about children. It's about our young people. I think you've struck at the heart of this issue, in fact.

    The state did not create the institution of marriage, but do you feel that it plays a role in protecting it?

+-

    Mr. Kim D'Souza: Certainly the state plays a role in protecting marriage. I come from an environmental studies background--that's what I study--and given the long history of marriage, there's a complex ecology of marriage. It reminds me that if you have an institution that's destabilized with very sudden changes, the last thing you want to do is impact it with completely new factors and radical new changes. Really, you need to be thinking, how long is it going to take this institution to stabilize, what can we do to stabilize it, and as you said, what can we do to protect it?

    The central concern about this debate, which should be about marriage, is really the failure to address the problems of the 99.5% of young people who face challenges of forming marriages, who are raising families in today's world. It's a huge constituency, and it's a very narrow age range as well--25 to 35, or maybe 40 years of age. You have social and economic pressures and all these things that need to be addressed with respect to protecting marriage before you can really begin to think about making further changes to an institution that has already been so destabilized.

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: If I may add a little thought on that, the state has come to a place of protecting it through the legal procedures that are surrounding it. Yes, it was a pre-existing institution, which is something that we value and that is culturally part of our social fabric, but because of the legal attributes of living in a society, we also need a government that protects legally the various institutions that are of vital importance to that societal structure. In that way, we think it is important that the government does preserve this institution in its core as what it was historically and is still at the moment.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: A well-known professor from McGill University has made the very point that you ended up with here, that there should be much more study given to this before we change it.

    There wasn't really any demand for this until the mid-1990s. In fact, in the mid-1980s people dismissed this whole issue as being a non-issue. It's only very recently, in the last seven or eight years, that it has suddenly come forward as an issue. This particular professor has urged a great deal of caution. He says there has to be much more study made as to the impact this will have on our society and the basic foundation of society, which is the family. So there are a lot of academics out there who agree with you.

    I have a question for Mr. Cyr--and I know my seven minutes are just about up here.

    There seems to be a glaring contradiction in your first and second points. In your first point, you're pretty well telling the committee, you're wasting your time; there's no reason you should be going around and doing consultations on this, because the definition of marriage should not be something the federal government deals with. That's what I get from your first one: “Parliament does not have a general constitutional responsibility for monitoring the makeup of families.”

    But then your second one seems to contradict that: “The Constitution permits Parliament to recognize marriages”. How do you reconcile your first point with your second one? They seem to be contradictory.

Á  +-(1145)  

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: Very easily.

    Just before I answer your second question, I'll comment briefly on your first one. I guess I look wiser than I used to, but I'm not 30 years of age, so I guess I could fit into the young crowd despite my grey hair.

    If the idea is really to protect children, then one can also ask the other question: are children better off in a situation where they are free-floating agents or protected under the umbrella of state protection in a marriage? Many gay parents do have children, so those children would be probably better off in a gay marriage.

    There are plenty of studies, but I'll leave that to other people.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: But we don't have enough history yet to even have definitive studies done on that. Would you not acknowledge that we need to study this more?

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: I could add that we have 20 years' worth of studies, but I'll leave that to the other people who will be here tomorrow.

    On your main question, I said the federal Parliament does not have jurisdiction over family law in general. The federal Parliament has power only over marriage and divorce. This is an exception that was carved out of the provincial powers in 1867. The exception deals only with marriage and divorce.

    Actually, the exception deals only with the definition of marriage and the definition of divorce, so Parliament has powers over making these definitions. That's the only power it has. In terms of rights and duties among spouses, that's a provincial matter.

    So the only thing the federal Parliament has powers over is granting status, marriage; that's it. So all these questions about whether marriage as an institution should be like this or like that are not the federal Parliament's jurisdiction.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: But we still have the right to examine the definition of--

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: Oh, yes, you can.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Okay.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Professor Cyr.

[Translation]

    Mr. Marceau, you have five minutes.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Although my questions are long, I'm unfortunately going to have to ask you to give me short answers, since I have little time.

    Mr. Cyr, you're a constitutional law expert, and I would like you to tell the members of the Justice Committee whether the following statement is correct.

    We are being presented with four options: to opt for civil union and the national registry; to leave the question of marriage in the hands of the various religious denominations; to retain the definition of marriage as it stands; lastly, to permit same-sex couples to marry.

    First, am I wrong in saying that Parliament—in view of what you just explained to Mr. Breitkreuz—only has authority over marriage and may not establish a national registry because that would be beyond its jurisdiction?

    Second, Parliament also cannot leave this question in the hands of the various churches because those who are in charge of marriage are provincial government officers. Thus, a priest or pastor may celebrate marriages because he has a provincial licence. It is therefore not up to Parliament to decide who can celebrate marriages. Nor can it prohibit non-religious representatives from doing so, if that were the will of the province.

    Third, leaving marriage as it stands would be discriminatory under section 15 of the Charter. In addition, as the Ontario and Quebec courts have held, that would probably be unjustifiable in a free and democratic society such as ours.

    It therefore appears that, in constitutional terms, in a purely legal perspective, the fourth option, which is to permit same-sex marriages, is the only possible choice.

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: I agree. National registries cannot serve only federal purposes; they may not be used in a general manner. So it's very limited and this does not replace marriage.

    The celebration of marriages is a provincial jurisdiction; Parliament does not exercise its jurisdiction in this field. Moreover, that's why an exception was created in 1867. For odious reasons, because no one could agree, this was left to the provinces because the wish was that what was established would be respected.

    Obviously, leaving marriage in its present form would violate section 15 of the Charter and would not be justified under section 1; that would even violate the objective of shared jurisdiction in the field.

    In my view, the only possible option is the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Á  +-(1150)  

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: This goes beyond the question of values. Thank you very much.

    Ms. McNeill or Mr. D'Souza, you say you represent the perspective of young people, and you talk about my generation in that connection. I was born in the 1970s, and I consider myself young; however, I haven't been consulted on the matter.

    Could you tell me what your consultation process was, how many members your association has and how you gathered the views?

    You claim to speak on behalf of young people, and I would like to know how it is that, as a young person, I was not consulted.

[English]

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: The way we came up with our positions was.... Judging by the media attention--the McGill media itself, internal to McGill--there was some coverage of the hearings. So we gathered together a group of students. Some of them went to the hearings in Ottawa, and some of them, like me, found this thing coming back into our minds in our environmental study classes, so we sought input from as many students as we could.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: What number does that represent?

[English]

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: I would say upwards of 25 in terms of people who actually contributed to writing our brief.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So based on the opinions of a group of some 25 or 30 individuals, you feel you can state before this committee that you are speaking on behalf of young people. You believe you can say that you have gathered together views that reflect the generation of which you and I are a part.

[English]

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: May I add to that?

    We speak as representatives, not as having polled the generation across the country, of having gone out and sought opinions and statistics. We speak of a generation that is at university, that is seeking to define this country that is our beautiful home, trying to deal with questions of diversity and inclusion, of how to express our uniqueness, that diversity, without imposing an equality that... We equalized differences. I think that is the essential core.

    We aren't trying to say statistically that we have searched the country for all young people's opinions. We are saying there is a vast majority of the population our age that is seeking. We are studying. We are trying to figure out how we will start families, how we can financially do that, how we can raise children in this culture, and we are struggling with something that I think is coming across as an equalizing effect, and where we are not acknowledging differences. We want to preserve something that we consider is a unique condition.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I respect that, but what I'm trying to tell you is that, in presenting that viewpoint, you may perhaps be acting as the spokesperson of people who do not agree with your position. You have to be careful about that.

    I have little time left, and I would like to come back to you, Mr. Cyr. My friend Breitkreuz referred to a study conducted by a Professor Cere of McGill University. Professor Cere also wrote an article on civil union in Quebec, in which he made certain predictions. Since you live in Quebec, I would like to know whether you feel his predictions have come true. I read you a quotation which is unfortunately in English; I apologize for that.

[English]

    He says, “...civil union arrangement may put Quebec on a path that will foster a growing sexual apartheid between men and women”. He goes on to say, “Men will now have to compete against better-educated attractive women in the search for long-term spouses”. And finally, “Will men and women begin to cluster and gravitate into separate sexual spheres?”

[Translation]

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: I tend to want to treat my academic colleagues with considerable respect, but sometimes it's a bit difficult. In this case, for example, I don't agree that there is sexual apartheid in Quebec. Apocalyptic scenarios are often advanced when no other arguments are left. That may be the case here.

Á  +-(1155)  

[English]

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you.

    Mr. Macklin.

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: May I make a comment?

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, panellists.

    I'd like to come back to you, Professor Cyr, in particular, because of a question I raised earlier today that, at least with respect to constitutional lawyers, has been dogging us through these hearings. That is, first of all, a reference to the persons case and its analogy to marriage and definition.

    It has been explained to us by those who are experts in the field that the resolution in the persons case was based upon working with inconsistencies within the constitutional document itself and ultimately trying to look at the use of the term “person” in its various contexts within the Constitution, and ultimately coming to the realization that within the Constitution itself it had to have a meaning that was broader, that would be inclusive and would bring women into that fold. However, with respect to the definition of marriage and the fact that it is a heading within the Constitution--and no one has advanced a case yet that within the Constitution itself there is ambiguity with respect to that definition--I submit that the case that has been made to us is that there was ambiguity in the persons case as to whether or not it included both sexes, but clearly marriage as it was defined at the time it was incorporated into the Constitution was well defined.

    I would like to receive your response as to why you believe we can change the definition of marriage without a constitutional change, because, in effect, that's the case that has been made to us, that we would have to constitutionally change it because we're changing the essence of it, not nuances that go with it.

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: Thank you.

    Briefly, I have four points. First, in the persons case, what was said was the general principle is applicable and has been applied all across the board in constitutional cases, not only to the persons case, so this case stands for the principle of evolutionary constitutional interpretation.

    Second, this is not the only case in which Parliament has granted power to define its own jurisdictions, somehow--powers over Indians and banks, for example. A bank is not defined in the text, nor is an Indian, but the federal Parliament has powers to define those elements.

    Third, if a full definition of marriage were already included in the Constitution, there would be nothing left for Parliament to do, because it only has power over granting this status and defining under which conditions it can grant that status. If the status were fully defined, then it would not be a granting power. It would simply be a statement. There would be no power for the Parliament to exercise. For example, if age were already included in the definition, then Parliament would not have any power over marriage.

    Again, this argument is based on the mistaken view of the essence of that competence. This is not a competence over a type of union. This is not a competence over a type of conjugal relationship. It's a jurisdiction over a status, a legal status. Parliament does not have powers over union d'affaires. Parliament does not have powers over other forms of conjugal unions, matrimonial unions. It only has power over a marriage and it's not a power over this type of sociological grouping. It has a power over a legal status; that's it.

    So the essence of the power is only power to grant this status; Parliament would not be changing the essence of its power by doing that.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: With respect to the future limitations on marriage, we've heard today an advocate on behalf of polygamists, polyamorous relationships, and so forth. From a constitutional point of view, how do you deal with the limitations that Parliament can place on relationships and still not find themselves bound within section 15 of the charter to certain difficulties, because once the argument is made, once we open the door, have we not opened the door fully? How is there a limitation? Do we use criminal law as a way of defining a limitation that would meet the requirements of section 1 of the charter in the sense of being demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society?

    I'd like to hear your comments on that, please.

  +-(1200)  

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: I'll briefly answer your question in six points.

    The first step toward polygamy is marriage. Unless you have the image of marriage itself, between a man and a woman, it would not be polygamy in a sense. So the first step is marriage. Now, whether it's between a man and a woman or two men and two women, the same first step has been met.

    Second, by not recognizing same-sex marriage, actually the federal Parliament has invited the recognition of polygamous union. Why? By not recognizing same-sex marriage, it invites provinces to create new statuses, such as union civile. Let's assume one man gets into a civil union on a Thursday, then the morning after marries someone else. This is a polygamous relationship according to the Criminal Code. Now, both relations are valid. You can multiply it by the different provinces. The fact that you're already married is a restriction in order to get union civile, but not the opposite. So if the federal Parliament were to say it is a restriction, in order to get married, not to be engaged in a civil union, then you basically recognize a civil union as a marriage.

    Third, there's no big movement in favour of something else. What we're discussing today is same-sex marriage. It's not something else.

    Fourth, there is a distinction on the issue of the reason we distinguish the two. Here, the refusal of same-sex marriage is a discrimination based on sexual orientation, not the others. Sexual orientation is a recognized basis for protection under the Canadian charter. Family status has somehow received recognition in early cases in the 1980s, but it would probably not be applicable here.

    Fifth, as you said, homosexuality is not a crime; incest is. The reason incest is a crime is in order to protect children from abusive parents. No one is talking about the fact that there is this danger here.

    Six, the reason historically the federal Parliament got power over marriage is because people could not agree on what the definition of incest was. For example, the prohibited degrees of marriage that were in existence were not the same, depending on the religion. In the Middle Ages, for example, the Catholic Church recognized that you could not get married to someone who was linked to you by the eighth degree. This meant that if you were in Italy, basically your only chance was to get married to someone from Japan, more or less.

    That was the basic reason we gave Parliament this power. The idea was, basically, the wisdom of getting over those religious distinctions and recognizing a tolerant society that would actually recognize the functional needs for recognition of those marriages.

    I wouldn't want to be the one explaining to my grandchildren why I was the last legislator to vote for segregation. At least, that's my point.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Mr. Cadman, what do you think about Japanese marriages?

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I'll be brief. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    My question is to Mr. D'Souza and Ms. McNeill.

    Going back to the issue of what youth have to say, we certainly heard numbers and heard arguments that the majority of youth support the idea of same-sex marriage, same-sex union. When I go and talk to young people--maybe a bit younger than you, more high school age--marriage isn't the issue. If you ask them should you support same-sex marriage, they're thinking in terms of the social benefits that flow from that kind of a union. When you say the benefits could flow--talking pension rights and all those things, all other things being equal--and you separate that out from redefining marriage, then their opinion changes.

    Do you have any comments on that? It seems that the kids I talk to are more concerned with the benefits side of the issue, not so much redefining marriage itself. I wonder if there's some confusion here.

  +-(1205)  

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: To verify, are you saying they are more concerned with the benefits being extended or with not being extended?

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: They tend to be supportive of the idea, if there's a long-term relationship, a dependent relationship, of the benefits that flow from that, whether they're financial or whatnot. That's really the issue I find young people are concerned about, not necessarily redefining marriage. There are two separate things here. I find some confusion there and I wondered if that's your experience.

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: I do think that what we are arguing and what we are saying is that marriage is unique. As to the legal benefits, we already have changes occurring through common law, through various other forms of union that are recognized and where there are benefits being received from the government. For us, it is the uniqueness of marriage and the definition of marriage as a societal structure.

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: That is the point we are making.

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: That is what we are talking about--the thought that we can actually eliminate the social history of what marriage is and then just redefine it to be something else. That is what we are saying is a case for caution, because that will fundamentally affect the structure.

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: Just to make another point, I think what we're essentially arguing here is this. I think there is, as you say, a great deal of passion for inclusions. We do want to include as many people as can be included in the benefits. But at the same time, we want this inclusion to be consistent with what the institution is. So to include doesn't mean to make them all the same and call them all marriage. It could very well mean extending the benefits, and as you suggest, perhaps people are very much in favour of that.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Yes, and that was my point.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Mr. Cadman.

    Madame Jennings, for trois minutes.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you.

    Mr. Cyr, a number of people are opposed to legal recognition of same-sex marriages and say that, if ever the Supreme Court of Canada decided or held that non-recognition was a violation of the Charter, the federal government would have to use the notwithstanding clause.

    I'm not in favour of that argument, but I would like you to explain to the committee, based on your experience, the criteria for using that clause. To my knowledge, the federal government has never used the notwithstanding clause to date. Some provinces, including Quebec, have invoked it. I'm not talking about the power to use the clause, but I would like to know whether there are criteria for determining at what point Canadian society will accept the use of the notwithstanding clause to overturn a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in this area.

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    Mr. Hugo Cyr: First, and I should have done this earlier, I would like to thank Parliament for holding hearings such as this so that elected representatives decide this important question and our representatives shoulder their responsibilities rather than delegate them to the courts. In itself, it's quite heartening.

    The notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been used, if I remember correctly—I'll have to check my information, but I did the checks last year—only twice in Canadian history: once after the Constitution was repatriated for a political act of protest against the adoption of the Constitution without Quebec's consent, and a second time in a labour law case in a Prairie province; ultimately, that use was not necessary because the Supreme Court recognized in a similar case a few years later that that act did not violate the right to which the notwithstanding clause had been applied. So it was needlessly used.

    There are major stigma attached to the use of the notwithstanding clause, and it's not for no reason. The Canadian Charter is said to represent the rights and freedoms that are fundamental for every citizen and person in Canada. They are our basic values, our human values, which are intended to create a link between the people who live here. So I don't think that saying the most fundamental rights of individuals are being violated is without political consequences, or moral consequences, because it is recognized that the fundamental rights exist and that we are prepared to violate them. The notwithstanding clause has never again been invoked since the courts recognized that those rights had been violated. If it were necessary to do so, I think it would be a very unfortunate first.

  +-(1210)  

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    Mme Marlene Jennings: Thank you very much.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you, Mrs. Jennings.

    Mr. Ménard, you may ask a final question.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: It will be brief, as usual.

    Welcome to Sarah and Kim. They are students at McGill University, and they have brought their friends along, if I'm not mistaken.

    I understand that it's very difficult to claim to speak on behalf of young people, and I don't want to impose that burden on you. I understand that some young people are conservative, others progressive, some want to get married, others not. We don't forget in our discussions that those who have sorely tested the institution of marriage are the heterosexuals, who have deserted it in the numbers you are aware of.

    I'm trying to understand what you expect of us as a committee. You tell us to be careful and you are right to do so, but you say in your brief that marriage is a source of personal fulfilment. In the tenth paragraph of your brief, you give statistics which I believe are American statistics. However, if marriage is a source of personal fulfilment for young heterosexuals, you will agree that there are many arguments to convince us that it couldn't be a source of personal fulfilment for young homosexuals.

    Will your prudence carry greater weight than your desire for equality? What will you want us to favour? Will you be in favour of a call to prudence or an ardent defence of the right to equality?

[English]

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: I think fundamentally it's not so much a question of equality, because people who have a homosexual orientation, homosexual people, are perfectly able to get married within the framework of marriage. And part of the framework of marriage is that it is an opposite-sex bond. You can look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There are all sorts of things. The whole human rights tradition is based on this.

    On the other hand, there is, as you say, this fundamental concern of young people with marriage, and it's not clear. There are differences in views, you're right. A lot of it has to do with the confusion in the language, and this is what we're trying to sort out, in a sense. Are these really human rights concerns? Why does the state recognize the marriage? Does the state recognize marriage because it's a source of personal fulfillment? I don't think so. It's not a matter of saying any two people, without any restrictions, who feel they would be personally fulfilled if they could get married to each other should have the right to do so. I don't necessarily like that.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: To end our discussion, I will say that, if you had to answer an exam question, you wouldn't get a very good mark for logic. You say that homosexuals can marry provided they define themselves as heterosexuals. The problem is that I am homosexual and that I won't define myself as heterosexual in order to marry. So something is not right in your reasoning.

    Homosexuals currently cannot marry.

[English]

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: I think you're misunderstanding. My point is not that homosexuals have to redefine themselves as heterosexual to get married. My point is that marriage is a framework that is opposite sex. So homosexuals, if they choose to, can get married. I'm not saying we don't want to have general inclusion into the culture of same-sex couples. I'm not saying we don't want to provide them with an extension of benefits. What I'm saying is the way to do that is not by redefining marriage.

    I'm sure Sarah has something to add.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): A final word.

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    Ms. Sarah McNeill: That is essentially what I was going to add, because we see marriage not as a same-sex bond but as a bond between a man and woman, which has been a societal reality. We look back thousands of years to see how that has emerged, how children have been born into that family culture, how they have been raised, and how that has been the structure of society.

    We are not saying within our multicultural, diverse, and very unique society there is not a place for defining different identities. I think that's essential. That is a part of who we are. But we are saying that marriage, as a bond and as a historically reality, has been a bond between a man and a woman. And it is not only a bond, it has also been procreative, and its structure has been focused on that.

  +-(1215)  

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    Mr. Kim D'Souza: That includes connecting children to their biological parents.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. John McKay): Thank you very much to this very interesting panel of witnesses. We appreciate your contribution to the committee.

    I'm going to suspend for one hour for a lunch break.

    We'll be back at 1 o'clock.

    Thank you.

  +-(1216)  


·  +-(1304)  

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    The Chair: I call back to order the 38th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    From now until 2 o'clock, or shortly after, we have a panel. We have first, speaking as an individual, Micheline Montreuil. With le Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d' Amnistie Internationale, we have Jorge Flores-Aranda and Roberto Jovel; and as individuals, we have Michael Ferri and Anthony Grumbine.

    Each group has seven minutes, after which there will be a question and answer period with the committee.

    I'm going to go first to Micheline Montreuil.

·  +-(1305)  

[Translation]

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    Ms. Micheline Montreuil (As Individual): Affiliation: Ms. Micheline Montreuil (As Individual) Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen members of the committee, first I would like to welcome you to Montreal. I hope you will find enlightenment here for your future proceedings.

    My name is Micheline Montreuil. I'm a lawyer and I work as a tax collection officer at the Quebec Revenue Department. I'm also what's called a transgender. That means that I was born a man, but that I'm living as a woman without having undergone the operations. If I had had the operations, I would be a transsexual. So I'm somewhere between the two. It's fortunate that we're talking about marriage today because I'm going to be married on Saturday, September 13. Thank you in advance for your congratulations.

    The only problem is that the Catholic Church currently appears to have a problem about marrying me, as does the Anglican Church and probably many other religions. Since one of the questions I noted in the committee's study proposals was the question whether the issue of marriage could be left to the churches alone. If your answer was yes, I thought that, instead of congratulating me on my upcoming marriage, you might perhaps tell me to cheer up and move to another country so that I can get married.

    In my brief, I have summarized a number of points on page 3, which I'm going to read so that they appear in the committee's record. This is very brief.

    In the past, marriage was a religious act. Religion was at the core of humanity for millennia. Now marriage is a secular act under the authority of the state. One need only see the rules in Quebec governing marriage, which are in the Civil Code and are stated in some 100 articles. That's much more than what can be found in the canon law or any other religious reference.

    I would add that this act is so important to the state that it became an institution. The best example is that of our own tax forms, where, as you know, you have to state whether you are married, separated, divorced or whatever. It's so important that, even in the application of tax benefits, whether a person is married or not married is taken into account.

    Married status also affects the level of benefits paid by the government, and the government does not have a legitimate moral right to impose a religious restriction on a secular institution. The separation of church and state is too fundamental a concept in our democratic system to permit such a serious breach. I don't have to tell you what Parliament's powers are, because you all know them, but I wonder under what principle this committee could recommend to the House of Commons that it adopt the position that it should be left to the religious institutions, whatever they may be, to fall into step with the secular institutions.

    I would also add that the right to equality must be a reality and not just empty words. It's all well and good to say that we have statutes that guarantee rights, but, just for a laugh, I'm going to give you an example of what can be done. I'll leave a copy of this with the committee so that it can study it. Because of my very particular situation as a transgendered person, I had to turn to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which refused to hear my case. I had to go and fight before the Federal Court to obtain two judgments from it in order to secure the right to be heard by the Commission. When the Commission heard me, it said that, yes, I had been discriminated against and that it was going to forward the case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

    So a right is not just something written; it's something that is lived. In permitting same-sex marriages, the government is not requiring churches to marry persons who do not adhere to the precepts of their religion. I have the greatest respect for all religions. If there are people, like Muslims, who believe that their religion permits them to have as many as four wives, so much the better for them. If there are some religions that believe people should really give one-tenth of their income in the form of a tithe, so much the better for them. If there are some, like the Catholic Church, that believe people have no right to divorce, so much the better for them. Perhaps the federal government should repeal the Divorce Act if it puts that in the hands of the religious institutions. If some, like the Protestants, have a right to divorce, so much the better for them. But I don't see why, as a citizen of this country, I can have rights different from those of another person on a religious question.

·  +-(1310)  

    I said it was good to permit same-sex marriages. Now on a lighter note, you have probably looked at my brief, perhaps superficially, in which I refer to some famous cases. The most famous case of the time when the Church regulated marriage is that of Henry VIII. Do you know what Henry VIII did when the Church refused to dissolve his marriage? He said that he was the King of England, that he was the head of the Church of England, that he could do what he wanted and that he was separating Church and State. And when the separation didn't go fast enough, he even cut the heads off two of his wives, Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, who are part of history. When the Shah of Iran wanted an heir, he didn't stand on ceremony: he dissolved his marriage. So putting marriage back into the hands of religion would be a mistake.

    Now the question arises: what could marriage be? I gave you a definition in point 6 of my brief. My definition is very broad and allows virtually all interpretations for the purposes of justice:

Marriage is the public union of two people who decide to live together and owe each other respect, fidelity, succour and assistance.

    That's ultimately what it is. It's two persons who want to live together and help each other. The traditional notion of having children is no longer as strong as it was. It must be understood that there are even heterosexual couples who cannot have children because either the man or the woman is sterile. So it cannot be said that the very purpose of marriage is to have children. That's what the Church said and advocated centuries ago, and that could be defended at that time. Don't forget that people died very young then, at 20, 25 or 30 years of age, but today society has evolved. I add in my definition:

The spouses together take in hand the moral and material direction of the family, exercise parental authority and assume the tasks resulting therefrom, choose the family residence, contribute towards the expenses of the marriage in proportion to their respective means and accumulate common property.

    So you'll understand that a new moral reality is being defined over time, a reality that is much more open. What I'm asking the committee members today is to consider the question and not to vote for or against this change based on their religious or personal convictions, but rather to vote in favour of this amendment because they know that it is good for the government of this country and for our society.

[English]

    I do not wish to have more rights than some people, but I wish not to have fewer rights. The word “justice” has one meaning—justice. We do not need to have the meaning or definition of that word. Justice is justice.

    Thank you, members of this committee.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Flores-Aranda and Mr. Jovel, go ahead.

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    Mr. Jorge Flores-Aranda (Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d'Amnistie Internationale): Affiliation: Mr. Jorge Flores-Aranda (Representative, Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d'Amnistie Internationale) Good afternoon.

    We are going to read a summary of our brief.

    Amnesty International recommends that Canada opt for the second approach examined within the framework of this consultation, which is as follows: marriage should include same-sex couples. Of the three approaches examined, only this one makes it possible to put an end to the discrimination that same-sex couples and their families face on a daily basis, by finally granting them total equality in the eyes of the law. Merely as a result of their sexual orientation, inmates have been adopted by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience since the mid-1970s. As is the case for any other prisoner of conscience, the organization has requested their immediate and unconditional release.

    This ground-breaking effort found expression in the movement's official policy in 1979, when the International Council passed a resolution establishing that Amnesty International would seek the release of any person imprisoned for promoting equal treatment of homosexuals.

    Going even further, in 1982, the organization added to its mandate that it would oppose torture, the death penalty, disappearances and extrajudicial executions of homosexuals and recommended the cessation of all medical treatment designed to change a person's sexual orientation without that person's consent.

    Lastly, in 1991, Amnesty International decided to reinforce the inclusion of homosexuals and individuals who had carried on sexual behaviour with individuals of the same sex in the context of its campaigns against the imprisonment of persons belonging to specific groups.

    Since 2001, Amnesty International's mission has been to defend the right to physical and mental integrity, freedom of opinion and expression and the right not to be a victim of discrimination.

    Amnesty International notes that the present definition of marriage in Canada, which is that of an institution reserved for opposite-sex couples, violates the right to non-discrimination and the right to physical and mental integrity.

    We are aware that a number of organizations taking part in this consultation will examine this discriminatory definition of marriage in greater depth, as well as the physical and mental integrity of same-sex couples wishing to marry, together with their families. For that reason, we will focus today on the right to non-discrimination.

    Same-sex couples wishing to marry before the state are the subject of an exclusion by the state based on the present definition of marriage. They are subject to discriminatory treatment, if that treatment is compared to that of other citizens.

    Amnesty International believes that discrimination is an affront to the very concept of human rights. It consists in denying certain individuals or groups the full exercise of their fundamental rights, solely on the basis of their identity or convictions. It negates the founding principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives mankind ethical standards which it tries to achieve for all people. These are parameters of what constitutes fair treatment, which we claim for ourselves and which we strive to grant to those around us. Treating a human being in any way that falls short of this threshold of humanity amounts to dehumanizing the person involved. Amnesty International objects to this devastating, dehumanizing effects that discrimination has on the lives of various social groups, including the effects on sexual and gender diversity within the human species.

·  +-(1315)  

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel (Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels d'Amnistie Internationale): The system for the implementation and protection of human rights empowers the various groups of the society to express themselves publicly and to put forward their best arguments to support their point of view on questions pertaining to the legislation. Using provisions such as those protecting and guaranteeing every individual's right to freedom of thought, religion and conscience, as well as those devoted to freedom of opinion and expression, anyone can take part in the debate and try to influence the course of changes in the sphere of collective life.

    However, the system for the implementation and protection of human rights also imposes on all members of the society clear limitations in the exercise of their rights. Articles 29 and 30 of the UDHR, for example, state that respect for the rights and freedoms of others and the destructive effects that certain activities could have with regard to rights and freedoms are limitations to be strictly observed in the activities of any State, group or person.

    Article 29 of the UDHR also states that the limitations in the exercise of a person's rights must meet the “just requirements of morality” and “public order”. Often, such criteria are wielded to prevent members of sexual minorities from organizing themselves to fight against discrimination. Fortunately, Canada has steered clear of this kind of abusive interpretation of article 29 and we do not see why, with respect to the question of marriage, things should be any different. In a constitutional State, morality and public order should not be confused with any particular religion or dominant cultural tradition. In a constitutional State, morality and public order should correspond precisely with equal treatment for every member of the community as far as rights are concerned.

    The State has an obligation to remain neutral in all ideological and/or religious confrontations; its only obligations are those that apply to the protection of the rights of all individuals. Thus, the State must not become hostage to the views of any one segment of the population, lest its authority become diluted. It is also the obligation of the State to ensure that the political processes influenced by the forces of the civil society do not result in outcomes that infringe on the rights of any segment of the population. All the more reason why the State has a duty to protect minorities against the abuses of the force exercised by the majority, regardless of whether this force is exercised on the grounds of religious beliefs or the cultural values of the majority.

    The plurality of views expressed in public debates such as the one taking place today must be encouraged, protected and assured. It must also be reflected in our institutions, including marriage, and guaranteed by those institutions. If the Canadian government decided not to welcome that plurality in the context of our institutions, making that a prerogative of certain classes of persons, that would prove to us that Canada has accepted the role of hostage in which certain political forces contrary to equality without distinction would like to place it.

    Canada now has a golden opportunity to prove that it can achieve the standards it has made a commitment to respect and promote for all Canadians, both here at home and internationally. Canada also has a golden opportunity to play a leading role, along with a number of other societies, in showing mankind how to end discrimination and begin to ensure that all people are respected, regardless of their sexual orientation.

·  +-(1320)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Now to Mr. Ferri and Monsieur Grumbine.

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    Mr. Michael Ferri (As Individual): Thank you.

    I'll start by summarizing my brief. In the question and answer session, Mr. Grumbine can also field questions.

    Thank you again for the invitation to speak before the committee. I'm a medical student in Kingston at Queen's University. I am a husband of three years, and a father of a two-year-old girl and of a newborn little boy. I am approaching this with what is perhaps a unique perspective. My background is in philosophy and mathematics, and recently in biochemistry and genetics. I'm now in medical school.

    I don't represent anybody, but I'm trying to convey a lot of the feelings that I've been hearing from all sorts of people—fellow students, family, and friends. In trying to prepare, I've been talking a lot about these things lately, and I want to convey some of the arguments and sentiments of many, many Canadians who I think don't often get to be heard.

    This brings me to my first concern, which is to ask why we're here in the first place when Parliament, as I referenced in my brief, voted 216 to 55 in 1999 to continue to uphold the definition of marriage as it stood, regardless of what the courts would continue to say. As I noted at the top of the second page of the brief, “Parliament will take all the necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada”. That's 80% of our elected officials speaking on behalf of their constituents.

    But the courts have brought us to the table again. It seems that a handful of judges are ruling our nation. This concerns me as a citizen, and it ought to concern the members of Parliament, as I'm sure it does, that its voice doesn't have the democratic grip that it ought to have—and that it once did and was conceived to have when this country was founded.

    As I've asked in my brief and we've already heard, who is lobbying for change and what do they want?

    It really is hard to understand and it is easy to confuse the issues here. It seems to turn on the principle of equality. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms seems to be used over and over again. On principle of equality, we must treat everybody the same and give everybody the same rights and privileges without distinction. It's certainly obvious that we can't discriminate with regard to class, gender, or all of those things. We can't say that someone is less human, or is not as worthy of respect and dignity, because of the colour of their skin, for instance. That's evident. But I think the confusion is regarding this idea of equality.

    Equality is not equivalent to sameness. The equality of persons in Canada turns on the dignity inherent in each human person as a rational creature. We have a dignity springing from our nature, which children have from their first moment and the elderly have until their last moment. We have this regardless of our skin colour, our sexual orientation, or our gender, etc. That is the way in which we are equal. The rights that come from that equality is what Canada guarantees, protects, and safeguards. That's what makes us a democratic, wholesome country to live in. But that doesn't mean that we all ought to be treated the same.

·  +-(1325)  

    I have a couple of examples. Even though they're still persons, we don't allow children to drive, because they don't yet have the level of maturity to drive. Another example is that a medical officer with the rank of major in the army is equal to a major who's commanding a battalion, but they don't do the same thing. They have different privileges; one sets broken bones and does CAT scans, while the other one tells tanks what way to go. They have different privileges and different responsibilities.

    I think we're missing this understanding, or this is what is confusing or muddling the issue a lot. A man and a woman are 100% equal, which we affirm and always have in Canada. But a man and a woman are different; they're complementary. Biologically speaking, as a medical student, I see the pictures and the slides right down to the electron micrographs of what's going on. I see the microscopic and biochemical mechanisms right up to the macroscopic architecture of things fitting together. If that biological complementarity is so complex, how much more are the psychological, emotional, and spiritual complementarities, which have grown up with that? How much more complex are they?

    Biologically, psychologically, and emotionally speaking, a man and a woman complement and fulfill each other. If the sexual act, which is an expression of that fulfillment, is divorced from that fulfillment or mutual perfecting of natures, then we're left with sex being nothing. Sex then has nothing left, and has nothing to do with anything except pleasure. That's a profound logical distinction. As many people have discussed before you, it leads to many profound consequences to ourselves, our children, and society.

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    The Chair: We're going first to Mr. Breitkreuz, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you again to the presenters who are appearing before the committee.

    My first question is for Amnesty International. Do you speak for the entire organization?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: Yes. We clearly frame the question that is the subject of this public consultation in the context of the concerns and principles that guide the work of the entire organization and which were approved by the International Council in 2001. The idea is to counter discrimination and violations of the right not to be a victim of discrimination. I'm talking about the International Council of Amnesty International, which meets twice a year. It is the most democratic body of any movement in the world. So we have placed the question of marriage and that of inequality in that context.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Are you a subgroup of the entire organization?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: We are part of Amnesty International, and we are what we call in our organization a thematic network, a network that works in a particular field. We have networks for women's rights, for children's rights, for arms trafficking issues, for the fight against the death penalty and so on, and each of those specific thematic networks works in the broader context of Amnesty International's mandate and mission.

·  +-(1330)  

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Do you have a separate membership?

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: No.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: You don't.

    How did you arrive at your position? Did all people who support Amnesty International vote in some forum to agree to this being the position that you should take, or is it just your small subgroup that has done this?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: There has been no consultation on the subject around the world. There was a round-the-world consultation on the way to address problems of discrimination in any society.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: So there was not a consultation throughout the world.

    Are you intervening in any other countries on this issue?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: No, not to my knowledge.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Okay, only in Canada.

    The problem I have is that I didn't think you were a political organization, and it seems to me that to intervene in a political forum you are indicating that you are.

    So you're not organized in other countries as a separate branch, and you're only intervening in Canada on this issue.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: The Réseau de soutien pour les droits humains des lesbiennes, gais, bisexuels, travestis et transsexuels exists in a number of national sections of Amnesty International, on all continents, including Asia, Africa, South America and others. We all agree on the same principles for working on the issue of discrimination based on people's sexual orientation or identity. It's not in all countries that there's a thematic network on the rights of sexual minorities or a discussion such as the one taking place here today. We're not all intervening on the question of marriage, but this is a network that is rooted in all cultures and in all regions of the world; all its members have the same mandate and the same understanding of our fight against discrimination.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: The reason I ask this is that a previous presenter said that Canada was targeted as a country in which the effort to approve same-sex marriages was likely to be successful. You are a worldwide organization, but if you're only intervening in Canada, it seems that you have decided that this is a country you're going to work in.

    What other countries are you organized in?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: The thematic network for the rights of sexual minorities is active in Mexico, the United States, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ghana, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and in a number of countries in Europe and North America.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to the witnesses for their very interesting presentations.

    Mr. Ferri, I read your brief very attentively. I would like some clarification if you would be kind enough to help me.

    In your brief, under the title “Who are they and what do they want?”, you seem to refer to the fact that the percentage of homosexuals in the population is constantly between one and two percent. The figures can be challenged, but let's take it for granted that that's true. Is the number of persons in a group that might suffer discrimination important?

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: For one thing, numbers are indicative of things that happen in nature. In statistics, when we measure.... Things that happen in nature, for the most part, we generally say are more natural. Now, even if 99% of Canadians were in favour of something that was not good in a society, such as burning down school buildings or anything you want, it is the responsibility of the members of Parliament to legislate in accordance not with the popular wish but with the popular good.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: All right, but my question is more precise. Must the rights of a group be proportionate to the number or percentage of the population that that group represents?

·  +-(1335)  

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: Certainly not.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you.

    In your brief, you refer to the diversity of sexual partners. This once again is a matter of numbers. I would find it hard to believe someone who said he had had more than 1,000 sexual partners, but would the fact that someone has or has had an active sex life, for example a heterosexual who enjoyed life when he was young, at university, be sufficient grounds to prevent him from marrying? Is that a sufficient reason to prevent that heterosexual person from marrying?

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: It's hard to understand the question.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You seem to be saying that because homosexuals have a lot of sexual partners, they should not have access to marriage. Consequently, should a heterosexual who has or has had many sexual partners be prevented from marrying?

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: I see what you're getting at.

    With regard to the 1,000 sexual partners, I found that hard to believe myself. But it was a survey of homosexuals who requested that they not limit the survey to less than 1,000, but include another checkbox that would say more than 1,000.

    In answer to the question, what we're looking at here is what marriage is all about. Is it about simply condoning a sexual behaviour between two people, three people, or four people? Or is it about preserving something that is a natural good, and perfecting and fulfilling for the human person, man or woman?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I don't want to interrupt you, but we only have seven minutes, and I would like to ask you a question about partners. It's not an aggressive question; I'm simply trying to understand your point of view. I repeat my question. Should the number of sexual partners a person has had determine whether he or she is entitled to marry?

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: I think what determines whether a person is allowed to marry or not is whether they have the potential to be married. And that means married to a man or a woman.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But that's circular. I see that you don't seem...

[English]

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    The Chair: Okay, we'll let him answer that.

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine (As Individual): What the numbers are trying to point to is that there's a fundamental difference between the relationships of heterosexual and homosexual couples. If you look at the average, what a heterosexual will do is absolutely less than 10 times that. And what we're saying is that according to marriage there is a certain principle of faithfulness, because you're saying you're going to be married to this person to the exclusion of all others.

    What it's saying is we're looking at the overall tendency—

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: But that's not the issue. There are homosexuals, like heterosexuals, who have an active life before marriage. I don't want to name anybody around this table, but I can assure you that there are some who, in their lives before marriage, would definitely not have passed the morality test, but who, once married, have had lasting monogamous relationships.

    This kind of argument is false, in my view. I'm sorry, but I must go a little further and cite you at page 6:

The vast majority of cultures, philosophies, religions and governments have quite a different view.

    The question is whether marriage has always been the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others. In Toronto, we heard one person who was fundamentally opposed to same-sex marriages who is a rabbi. That was Rabbi Novak, if my memory serves me. I wouldn't want to compete with him with respect to his knowledge of judaism, but when he came and told us that, until after the birth of Jesus, that is until after the year 0, Judaism accepted polygamous relationships. So when someone says that marriage in the Jewish religion, among others, has been a relationship between one man and one woman for millennia and millennia, that's false. We have to be careful because, if that's not the case of judaism, it's definitely not the case of Islam. I'm just telling you to be careful with that.

·  +-(1340)  

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    The Chair: Last question.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: That will be my last question, Mr. Chairman, even though I have a lot of things to say.

    You talk about the difference between the sexual act among heterosexuals and among homosexuals. You seem to say that the essential purpose of the act among heterosexuals is procreation. What do you do about couples who don't want children or who can't have them?

[English]

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine: Can I answer that?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I'm going to conclude. Here's my second question. As regards the creation of deep emotional and spiritual ties between a couple, why couldn't a sexual relationship between two men or between two women also create deep emotional and spiritual ties between them?

    Thank you very much.

[English]

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    The Chair: Okay, Mr. Grumbine.

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine: With regard to the question, because it has actually come out quite a number of times before in these committees, about couples who cannot have kids, the whole point is that procreation is a natural end to which the sex act is geared, and marriage—we're going to say marriage—within that. The fact that some couples can't is the exception that actually proves the rule. You see, the whole point is if you took couples who are, say, too old to have kids—or are impotent, or have any of the disqualifications so that they can't have kids, for example—and you switched it and said, okay, no longer are we going to make this the exception to the rule, but we're going to make that the rule; if we said couples who cannot have babies are the only ones who can get married, then you'd say, wait, hold on, we've lost the whole sense of marriage.

    I'll give you an example. I'm sorry, that was a bit of a confusing example. For example, we say the human race is two-legged. If a person only has one leg, are they not a human person? Are they? If you say that if procreation isn't in marriage—for example, if they're not able to have babies—then therefore they can't be married, it doesn't make sense. It's the exception that proves the rule. If all men are one-legged, then you can say a two-legged animal is not a man.

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    The Chair: We're going to consider all that and go to Ms. Jennings.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you very much for your presentations. I simply want to address a question with the network from Amnesty International to explore a bit what my colleague Breitkreuz said, that it's only in Canada that the network is fighting for recognition of same-sex unions and that the networks are not working on that in other countries. You said that there existed thematic networks. Could it be that the thematic networks for lesbians, gays and so on in other countries are fighting simply for the right to exist? Isn't the right to simply live as a lesbian, gay, transsexual or transvestite already guaranteed in Canada, as a result of the evolution of human rights and their entrenchment in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms? According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we're now looking at the second, third priority and so on. If you don't even have the right to live, as is the case of women in Afghanistan, you work on that before working on the right to abortion, for example, or the right to refuse to marry someone. Am I right?

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: Yes, absolutely. Amnesty International has observed that approximately 80 countries in the world still consider homosexuality a crime and provide various penalties ranging from imprisonment to the death penalty in certain countries. Obviously, the networks that work in Latin America, Africa and Asia must focus first on questions essential to their survival. Some people find themselves in situations involving prison and torture, and there are documented cases of that kind.

    Allow me to come back to the question that was put to me: isn't Amnesty International targeting Canada? It's as though it were a kind of offensive and we had selected a country, whereas, in our opinion, claims such as those we've just spoken about are consistent with the values of Canada and the Canadian people in general, with the values of freedom, respect, welcoming others, which are at the heart of the very nature of this country. So we are in agreement, not in conflict.

·  +-(1345)  

[English]

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Merci.

    Mr. Ferri, I read your brief and I have a couple of questions. One is in regard to some of the statements you made. I'm going to come back to this thing about the study that shows that a high percentage of homosexuals have 1,000 relationships, that they have more sexual relationships.

    First of all, I'm assuming you looked at the timeframe in which that particular study was conducted. It was conducted in the late 1970s, and I think almost any study that looked at the sexual behaviour of young people, heterosexual or non-heterosexual, at that time would have shown a large increase in the number of sexual contacts or sexual relationships. That's the first thing.

    Secondly, if one looks at certain spheres of activity—let's look at professional sportsmen, such as basketball players, baseball players, football players—studies have shown they have an extraordinarily high level of sexual relationships. And the majority of them are married--what a surprise!

    I would like you to address that particular issue, as one thing.

    The second one is on the issue of polygamy. I'm not sure if you were here when Professor Cyr spoke just before we broke for lunch. His brief is over there; it's in English and in French. I would suggest you take a really good look at it, because he raises the issue that the reason the question of polygamy is now suddenly rearing its head is precisely that Parliament has not taken on its role and responsibility to define marriage as between two persons in order to strengthen marriage and the stability of marriage; and that has now allowed the provinces to create all kinds of other unions that in fact decrease the stability of marriage; that if Parliament had in fact defined marriage as being between two persons rather than between a woman and a man, we would not have seen the rise of civil registry, conjugal unions, etc., which have in fact increased the instability of marriage.

    I'd like you to address that.

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: Well, first of all--and break in here if you want to --

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    The Chair: No. I can speak to that.

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: I was talking to Mr. Grumbine. Mr. Grumbine, break in here if you want to.

    Back to the numbers issue, I think you might be slightly misinformed as to the studies. I think these are fairly consistent, the numbers of lifetime sexual contacts in the homosexual population, regardless. The issue here is that homosexuals are not advocating for fidelity in marriage. Redefine marriage to include homosexuals, but lifelong fidelity will not be important. I should qualify it; lifelong sexual fidelity. In the numerous articles I've read by homosexual authors, they repeatedly state, “We provide in our marriage the option for a sexual outlet, as long as we're honest about it”. But that is not stable in terms of making stable families or stable relationships. So down the line, it translates into an unstable society.

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    The Chair: Mr. Grumbine, did you want to step in? Then I'm going to Monsieur Ménard.

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine: No, you can go ahead. I think he covered it.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Ménard.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I hope you won't ask us the number of sexual partners we have had because that's definitely not the right question. But I'm thinking that, beyond the jokes that can be told, you have to be more rigorous. Ultimately, there's something in your remarks that can be very offensive, particularly for young people who are in medicine.

    First, I don't know what you know about the homosexual world apart from what you've read, but things aren't always as they seem in books. People in the homosexual community, as individuals, don't have any different aspirations from your own. In this room, I see at least two couples who have been together for 15, 20 or 30 years. If we want to develop legislative policies based on what someone claims to be the number of sexual partners, that's not very rigorous.

    Talk about homosexual people. I don't know what contacts you have with members of the gay community, but I don't think you have many. The question that arises is whether you believe that people in the homosexual community who want to adhere to values related to marriage, recognition, fidelity, mutual support—that's how Parliament defines marriage—can honour those values as well as you do yourself.

    I believe that, if you ask the question in those terms, you'll come to slightly different premises. And if you lack examples and positive references, we'll be pleased to welcome you in our networks to get you in touch with them. With respect to actual experience, that won't commit you to anything. Homosexuality isn't contagious, you know. But I think we're starting to fall into a kind of intellectual delirium. You have to be a little more careful.

·  +-(1350)  

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: Certainly, yes. Caution is always of the essence.

    To speak to the issue of long-term homosexual relationships, you will not find a single study to date, I will guarantee, that finds long-term homosexual relationships to be a majority of those relationships, nor more than, I think it's 6%... In most of the studies, any of the relationships that lasted over five years had a sexual outlet, had other--

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Wait a minute.

[English]

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    The Chair: Yes, Monsieur Ménard.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I'm going to use my time, with your permission. He's already answered the question. I simply want to make a comment.

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: Should I continue here?

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    The Chair: Mr. Ferri has the floor, and then we'll go back to Monsieur Ménard.

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: I don't want to seem hateful, because my whole principle here is that I respect, and as Canadians we respect, the equality and dignity of every human person. But we cannot condone every kind of behaviour. Especially as legislators, we can't condone every kind of behaviour as conducive to the common good.

    The crux of my argument, which I'm not sure you're understanding, is that the whole thing turns on the issue of the sexual complementarity and fulfillment. By nature, a woman fulfills a man's psyche, his emotions, etc., right? And a man fulfills a woman's. In a relationship such as marriage, you have that complete expression of self-giving that can mature and perfect those human persons. You cannot in the homosexual marriage because that biological complementarity and, in turn, the spiritual, emotional, and psychological complementarity, does not exist. The potential cannot be actualized.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ferri.

    The last word to Mr. Ménard.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: This will definitely be the last word. You will agree with me that the ones who have most abused the institution of marriage are heterosexuals. The present rate of divorce is entirely attributable to them.

    Second, just think that, until the Canadian census five years ago, we in Canada were unable to identify the number of homosexuals. You talked to me about gay sexual relations with somewhat outmoded right wing convictions. I would like us to compare our studies. I'm a man of the homosexual community, I go into the village and I walk around wherever there are homosexual communities. Your description is something from your dreams; it does not exist in reality. I think you should try the intellectual exercise of talking to people who are in relationships and who believe in the values of fidelity and respect.

    When you appear before a parliamentary committee to talk about studies and you can't even name them, you display a lack of rigour which is not a credit to the profession you are preparing to practise.

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci, Monsieur Ménard. Now to Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, witnesses.

    My first question is to the Amnesty International representative. I must admit I am caught by surprise by your testimony, because my view, when I was giving money to Amnesty International, was that it had something to do with freeing prisoners. But you're saying that since Amnesty International campaigns for human rights, it works to protect all rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Well, we heard from a previous witness this morning that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes reference to marriage, and that is a marriage between a man and a woman “on consent”--I think that was the phrase that was used.

    So my question to you is, is this a campaign on the part of Amnesty International to open up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

·  +-(1355)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: Not at all. In fact, the international system of human rights protection reinterprets the basic instruments. If they're excellent, it ensures they remain that way, and when there are exclusions, it attempts to put an end to them.

    I'll give you an example. The UN Human Rights Committee ruled in the case of Nicholas Toonan v. Australia, in 1992, that every anti-discrimination clause that mentions the “sex” category must be understood as including sexual orientation. That's one way for the international human rights system to ensure that the exclusion and discrimination problems that were not considered at the outset are now adequately addressed.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: So your view is that you are enhancing the view of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they initially drafted this document and expanding what they really meant.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: It's said that the basic principles are the fight against discrimination and the equal worth of all human beings, but there are places where there perhaps should have been more inclusive wording. That's why there are special mechanisms at the UN Human Rights Commission which make it possible to examine certain questions even if they are not mentioned in any international instrument, such as the extrajudicial execution of homosexuals, homosexuals' freedom of expression, the arbitrary arrest of homosexuals and so one. The UN system itself increasingly recognizes that it is necessary to examine this theme, in a manner consistent with the basic principles of instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: I take it that it would be fairly helpful to your argument if Canada's charter were used to pry open the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: Could you repeat your question, please?

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: I take it that it would be fairly helpful to your quest to open up the interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights if, in fact, Canada went in the direction of same-sex rights.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McKay.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Roberto Jovel: I think that any work to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in such a way that there would be fewer and fewer classes of excluded persons would be welcome.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Ferri, I understand you when you say that homosexuals must be respected in their human dignity. I also understand you when you express your opposition to same-sex marriages.

    Are you in favour of legal recognition of same-sex spouses in a form other than marriage?

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: Are you talking about personal views here, or in terms of natural philosophy and science and that kind of thing?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I'm talking about you.

[English]

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    Mr. Michael Ferri: That's not the issue here, as far as I can understand. I'm a married man, married to a woman, and the family I'm creating, this relationship with my wife I'm creating is.... The definition will broaden to threaten that.

¸  +-(1400)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I apologize for not being clear enough. Four options have been presented to us, and a non-marriage option would be a civil registry of same-sex spouses. Is that something you would be prepared to accept? That wouldn't affect the definition of marriage.

[English]

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine: I am answering this because we have discussed this a lot. In general, I think we're in favour of the option of not recognizing homosexual unions any more than is done already in law, with benefits and everything else. Obviously we're not as much against it as with marriage because of the foundational and historical part of marriage. But I think it's sort of squirming around the issue and you end up getting into more trouble than it's worth.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: So you're saying that you would be ready to accept it. In your opinion, what would be the rights and duties that would be part of that other recognized form of union, which would not be marriage? For example, you know that there is civil union in Quebec. Let's disregard the constitutional issues. If we ever decided to recommend something like civil union as it has been done in Quebec, would you be ready to live with that?

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.

    Mr. Grumbine.

[English]

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    Mr. Anthony Grumbine: I think we would live with it either way. Our general opinion is that there's a problem with ratifying.... When you create a separate thing and you don't call it marriage, you run into a whole number of problems. For one thing, they say it's not marriage, so it's not equal, it's not equality. You don't really face the issue, you're sort of dodging it. The other thing is that, at the same time, it's going against the principle of condoning a certain behaviour that we, as well as a large number of Canadians, do not agree with.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau, and I thank the panel very much.

    I'm going to suspend for three minutes, and I ask the next panel to come forward.

    I thank you very much for your time.

¸  +-(1403)  


¸  +-(1408)  

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    The Chair: I call back to order the 38th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. From now until 3 o'clock we have present one witness appearing as an individual, Myriam Brunel. We expect another witness appearing as an individual, Julie Pétrin. I understand she's en route. We will begin for seven minutes with Madame Brunel. I hope very much that Ms. Pétrin is here shortly.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Myriam Brunel (As Individual): Affiliation: Ms. Myriam Brunel (As Individual) Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. I'll make my presentation quickly; I'll just have the time to finish it in seven minutes.

    I'm here to give you my personal viewpoint on the subject before us. I'm not a specialist in anything, I've never planned to marry, I have no personal plans in that direction, but my experience and my knowledge of various circles have led me to reflect on these matters in a special way. Here's a summary.

    First, as regards marriage and religion, marriage is first of all a contract of reciprocity and commitment to the other person. Love is not included at the outset. Heterosexuals have clearly shown that over the centuries. Here and elsewhere, spirituality is experienced very fully outside religions, and love is also found outside marriages. Having said that, religions may have meaning for certain persons, and I respect the need of those persons. Religious marriage should therefore be accessible to every human being who feels the need for it.

    Second, let's talk about rights and obligations. Marriage obviously involves both. People talk about respect, support, fidelity and so on, all of which creates the social network in a reassuring way. But morality and social responsibilities are not the prerogative of heterosexuality, any more than they are that of the clergy. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, transvestites, transsexuals and so on are all full-fledged citizens and should therefore have the same rights and obligations as heterosexuals. Why deny responsibilities to someone who is seeking to have them?

    The failure of marriages, that is to say separations and divorces, is an extremely complex problem which is often related to the possessiveness of people or property, and the Church can't do much about that. If a human being is capable of being faithful, he is not necessarily exclusive. Infidelity is often one of the main causes of separation. Following marriage breakdown, where there are children from the union, men no longer commit themselves to the marriage, mainly because of the financial aspect. Virtually all men who are capable of commitment are already committed.

    Now let's talk about fidelity and bisexuality. As a bisexual, it goes without saying that I wholly approve of marriage or civil union between same-sex partners, feeling as I do that laws and religions too often discriminate against sexual orientation. Bisexuality is a world in itself, but sexual orientation must be distinguished from sexual behaviour. Perversions may be found in every sexual orientation.

    In my view, bisexuality is the pivotal point of personal and relationship balance, of an openness to an appreciation of gender differences, to love in action and to deep respect for human beings. If we want to redo the laws, we must immediately develop them further to prevent another form of discrimination, based on the number of partners willing to commit to each other.

    Bisexuals sometimes, but not always, have partners of both sexes. For bisexuals, fidelity has nothing to do with exclusivity because they can be faithful to a number of persons at the same time. Those individuals are also polyamourous. The known majority of bisexuals therefore give priority to love rather than to sexuality, to emotions rather than sex.

    With regard to loving many persons and commitment, in all sexual orientations and all societies, there are exclusive individuals, but also polyamourous people who are faithful but non-exclusive, but the vast majority maintain secret relationships because society does not yet acknowledge the possibility of loving and being committed to more than one person at the same time. Some of those people may already be responsible for children. New partners or the partner not married to those persons should be able to have access to the same rights and obligations as the person who is married.

    I would suggest an option for new union models. There would be benefits in developing a broader model of union for people of all sexual orientations. That model could very well be based on the legal form of partnership, which is used in the business world from the moment two or more persons wish to establish a business together.

¸  +-(1410)  

    Some work would have to be done to apply the partnership concept to marital unions, but the essential aspect is the joint and several liability of all its members. Clauses specific to each union could be determined by the committed partners, including whom they see and the method for preparing relationship balance sheets.

    Couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, could use these arrangements to define their own unions, exclusive or otherwise, such as polygyny and polyandry. Bisexuals could thus form a union with both a person of the opposite sex and a person of the same sex if they wish, in a threesome or even a foursome. Transgenders could also form a union with whomever they want, under the name and appearance they wish. Transsexuals would thus have the same opportunities, of course.

    There would be benefits for society in all this. That may seem absurd, but all this already exists and is quite concealed because it is not regulated and not recognized by heterocentrist society. There would be many advantages to a flexible type of contract. For example, people facing dilemmas of frankness and honesty generally function poorly in society. Their work performance and family lives may be affected. Legitimizing various types of union would relieve their feelings of guilt and no doubt encourage them to shoulder their responsibilities to a greater degree.

    The possibility of living in open and sincere relationships with more than one partner obviously raises the notion of possessiveness and jealousy, the causes of a sad number of marital problems. Social recognition of this type of union would have the effect of making people talk more before committing themselves to a so-called unique and too often preconceived model.

    When laws regulate unions, everyone is reassured. This is not a guarantee that the laws will be complied with, since human beings are what they are, but it at least has the merit of accrediting individuals who comply with them in the eyes of those who may have doubts about the validity of their commitment. Threesomes or foursomes, as well as their children, would no doubt have a better chance at personal and social happiness than single persons or even couples: imagine an easier division of tasks, greater economic stability, access to larger houses, increased emotional and intellectual enrichment, not to mention a variety of partners without all the risks of sexually transmitted disease.

    There would probably be fewer single individuals as well. Our society has an inestimable asset: democracy. Here today, democracy can be found at the level of relationship commitment. Isn't that an obvious sign of its vitality and relevance?

    I conclude with the hope that the coming years will increase acceptance of human diversity in all its forms. That's its true value and the source of peace in the world.

    Thank you very much for listening.

¸  +-(1415)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci.

    I want to welcome Jean Rhéaume, who was scheduled to be with us from 3 o'clock until 4 o'clock but has agreed to step forward now. We very much appreciate your accommodating us.

    For seven minutes, Monsieur Rhéaume.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume (As Individual): Thank you.

    I will speak in English because my text was written in English and it helps me to be short. I have given my first text to the committee, but it has not been translated in time for you to have it today. What I will read now is different, but I will also send it to the clerk so that you may have it in a bilingual version.

    First, on the definition of marriage, marriage is a natural institution that has been recognized by positive law for a long time, by which a man and a woman constitute a family. To enable this important purpose of constituting a family requires the free and informed consent of the groom and the bride publicly making an irrevocable, reciprocal donation of themselves before society. Marriage creates a communion of persons, between husband and wife, who will normally beget children as a consequence and who, in their new capacity as parents, will take care of them and educate them. The duties of fidelity, love, and support inherent to the marriage relationship protect the unity of the couple and help the husband and the wife to assume appropriately their obligations toward one another; toward their children, as father and mother; and toward the society they are contributing to building.

    Accordingly, marriage is much more than the registration of a civil union between two people, more than a partnership, more than the sharing of feelings and assets, more than an intimate relationship, and more than the performance of parental functions. As a well-known and long-standing institution, marriage has a specific meaning and purpose, both of which do not, and should never, depend on the whim and pressure group of the day.

    Understanding, recognition, and tolerance must work both ways. The millions of Canadians who have chosen to be married have a right not to see the meaning of their lifelong relationship completely changed and reduced to a mere partnership or union. The truth of marriage, as understood and accepted by the immense majority of Canadians and people throughout the world, cannot be sacrificed to satisfy the claim of a few people. The definition of marriage should not be modified to refer to the relationship between two or more persons of the same sex.

    On the dignity and the status of a married person, to reduce human dignity to the feelings of a person or a group of persons, or to the perception of their acceptance by others, is to empty that noble expression of its true contents and, accordingly, invalidate its use as the foundation of human rights. Dignity is based on the nature of the human being, who is a person or a living unity composed of a spiritual soul and a physical body. Consideration of the dignity of a person and of marriage as a personal relationship do require taking into account both dimensions of this unity—not only one at the expense of the other. People are neither pure minds with a sexual orientation nor simply male or female bodies with a sexual function.

    The essential nature and the consequent fundamental dignity of the human being do not change according to the particular circumstances of a person's relationship with another person. The human dignity of a single person is fundamentally the same as that of a married person; she is not less worthy if she does not marry, and she is not more worthy if she gets married. Otherwise, people's dignity would vary according to whether they live single, married, widowed, separated, divorced, in a common-law partnership, or a same-sex partnership. In turn, this would mean that equal dignity is impossible, because different people do have a different status. So same-sex people cannot argue that their dignity depends, and necessarily demands, access to a specific status, namely, marriage.

    Third, on the right to equality and marriage, marriage is a natural institution that is recognized by Canadian and international positive law, by which a man and a woman constitute a family. The requirement to have one man and one woman is based on the nature of the persons and on the nature of the specific relationship called marriage. By nature, men and women have a different sex. Marriage takes this difference and reality into account, because its nature and purpose is the foundation of a family.

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    The requirement to have one man and one woman prevents all men and all women—whatever their religious beliefs, race, ethnicity, and other recognized grounds of discrimination—from marrying a person of their sex when they fulfill the essential requirements of age and the absence of a prohibited relationship “by consanguinity, affinity or adoption”. A requirement that applies equally to all men and all women cannot be declared to be discriminatory. It is not related to the fact that some men and women may, for reasons not associated with marriage, have suffered some discrimination in other circumstances.

    The requirement of having one man and one woman is based on the nature of the specific relationship of the two persons who want to marry one another. Thus, this requirement is based on the difference of sex between these two persons, not on their sexual orientation. Heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual persons can marry a person of the other sex, but not a person of the same sex. This requirement fully respects an important personal characteristic of each man and each woman—their true sexual identity. It does not deny, but on the contrary, recognizes the fact that every person is a man or a woman. This requirement is equally applicable to all men and women and respects a fundamental reality regarding the identity of the parties in a marriage, which is an essential element of that relationship, and cannot be declared to be discriminatory. A modified requirement that would deny the specific identities of the parties to a marriage would respect neither the human dignity of these persons nor the particular nature of the marriage relationship that they want to enter into.

    Given the time restrictions, here is a list of issues that I would want to comment further on, if you would like to hear about them. I would add that I've also answered some questions that were asked this morning but that were left unanswered. The first issue is the forgotten impact of international law on Canadian domestic law regarding this issue; second, the impact of a new definition of marriage on the notion of adultery; third, the forgotten importance of some federal statutory law provisions on the identity of the parties to a marriage; fourth, the possible danger of having a registry; fifth, the absurdity of invoking freedom of religion, particularly the Christian faith, to try to define the so-called same-sex marriage; sixth, the wrongly understood evolution of constitutional law and common law, which is creating a dangerous revolution; and seventh, some important remarks on the application of the Supreme Court of Canada's equality test to marriage between people of the same sex.

    Thank you.

¸  +-(1425)  

+-

    The Chair: Merci.

    Mr. Cadman, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I'd like to thank the witnesses for appearing this afternoon.

    Ms. Brunel, you lost me at some point. You were suggesting that one can be faithful to several people at the same time; that one can be faithful, but not exclusive; and that there are new models of a union and broader partnership. What you're suggesting is not only to redefine the definition of marriage, but also to redefine the traditional meaning of faithfulness.

    I'm not sure how you are suggesting that this would work. Should marriage be extended to include multiple partners, or should marriage just be for a couple, and then other people would enter into some form of relationship?

    I'm a little confused here, and I'd like to hear Mr. Rhéaume's comments on whatever your answer is.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Myriam Brunel: I think everything is possible. The idea isn't just to define how that should happen. I don't have all the solutions, but I know that there are an enormous amount of different needs among the population and that all people should be able to choose how they want to lead their private lives.

    With regard to marriage, I said that religious marriage should be accessible to all human beings who feel the need for it. If there are any definitions that prevent that, they should be analyzed. I believe we're all here for that. This is not my specialty, but it makes me think about all the aspects that are entailed, including fidelity.

    I'll give you an example. I'm faithful to a program that I watch regularly, but I don't just watch that program. I'm interested in other programs, and I'm also faithful to other programs. For me, fidelity has nothing to do with exclusivity. It's a form of sets and subsets within large sets. For example, a mother can very well love her two children equally. She may also have preferences, but that doesn't prevent her from loving her two children. You see what I mean.

    I proposed an option that I discovered barely two days ago, a partnership, which could permit different types of union. If we want to redo the laws, let's study all the possibilities starting now.

[English]

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: But again, regarding the actual definition of marriage as being exclusive to a man and a woman, are you suggesting that it has to be opened up and basically thrown wide open to everybody? Is that what you're saying? That's where I'm confused. I'm not sure what your definition of marriage would be, if it weren't to be what Parliament has defined it as already.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Myriam Brunel: Yes, that's it. I don't personally have a definition of marriage. I've never inquired into all the specific implications of that. I've never had any plans in that direction, since I ultimately felt excluded from that type of union. I leave it to the committee to decide what it should do, but I feel that all people should have access to the form of union they desire. If religious marriage is what they want, good for them.

[English]

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you.

    Mr. Rhéaume, do you have any comments?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: No, I think I was clear enough.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm done.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Mr. Ménard, you have seven minutes.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I never have as much time in one shot, Mr. Chairman.

    We heard two quite different pieces of testimony. People with quite different experience are at the same table.

    I'm going to start with Ms. Brunel. You know that one of the arguments of the detractors of Minister Cauchon's bill, which is designed to tend toward a form of recognition of marriage, is that we could become a society in which polygamy is recognized. I'm sure that you didn't mean to suggest in your testimony that Parliament should head in that direction. You're saying that there are people who are bisexual and who may want to love more than two persons at the same time, but you agree that, in a context of legality, with all that means in economic terms and with regard to existing statutes, that that means making a choice. You also agree that the testimony you give this morning, which is not unoriginal, cannot be reflected in legislation tomorrow morning. You wouldn't want to give arguments to those who object to same-sex marriages by saying that we're headed toward polygamy; that wasn't the gist of your testimony. Have I understood you correctly?

¸  +-(1430)  

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    Ms. Myriam Brunel: Obviously. I believe that the definition of polygamy should be reexamined because the ideas we have of it come from other countries. That thing has been denigrated because there was a certain domination by one member of the family. Consider the example of Mormons. That example is a distortion of what polygamy can be. It's not the model I'm proposing here. For me, it's inner democracy.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: An emotional democracy. I understand.

    Allow me to turn to Mr. Rhéaume. When it's said that there are natural institutions, I have doubts. I understand what you mean, but it's men and women who create institutions. We have heard testimony from Church representatives, among others, who came to remind us that marriage was relative in the way it was experienced in history. I don't know whether the starting point of a debate such as ours should be to say that there exists natural institutions.

    For example, are the compensatory allowance and family patrimony, which is referred to in article 415 of the Civil Code, considered part of the natural institutions? Probably not. It would probably have seemed crazy 20 years ago to say that equality between spouses should be an underlying value of marriage. In my opinion, it can certainly be said that natural institutions do not exist and that men and women look at institutions and modernize them in accordance with the values of the time. Today there is a value called equality, and there is no objective reason to exclude two men or two women who love each other from marriage. Do you agree that we can view the theme of natural institutions from a relative standpoint, or are you still convinced that we're talking about something atemporal which transcends all times?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: I don't agree that a natural institution changes over time. By definition, it is relative to the nature of persons, which does not change. You mentioned polygamous marriage or the situation of a man who could have a number of spouses. Yes, that was recognized in the Old Testament, but if you have read the Old Testament, you undoubtedly know that other phenomena have had to be examined over time because people were “not as civilized” as today. For example, the law of retaliation, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, was quite an improvement. Before that, you killed people when they did something you didn't like. So the law of retaliation was a first improvement. At least people lost no more than the eye or the hand. But later on, it was realized that that was not enough. Christianity arrived, and people felt that they had to forgive those who hurt them.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Something disturbs me in your reasoning. One can understand that human beings have an essence, and I can subscribe to that philosophical point of view, but is it your impression that I, who am very much in love with Thomas—I would like to introduce him to you one day because he's so fascinating and seductive—that I have a different feeling of love than the one you have? I don't know whether you are single, but if you live in a relationship, do you think that the feeling of love we experience is different? We are both human beings with the same essence.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: First, I'm single. Second, it is very possible for you to have an emotional relationship with someone of the same sex. Nothing prevents you from doing that. Except that we can't call that marriage.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Don't challenge me because I could get married in the House of Commons with Martin Cauchon as best man. You know that would be possible. It would be possible for us one day to recognize, as legislators, that the feeling of love can lead us to review institutions as a result of which a man could commit himself to another man.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: You lead me to the first point that I raised and that I would like to elaborate on. And that's the question of the impact of international law on Canadian law.

    Canada has ratified certain international instruments, and our domestic law must comply with those international obligations. I'm going to read to the committee what I have written in English on this question. It will be much shorter because I had the time to reflect before writing it.

¸  +-(1435)  

[English]

None of the three decisions now before the courts of appeal of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec has considered the domestic consequences and the fact that because Canada ratified international instruments, it must keep its national law and policy in line with the construct of marriage contained in these documents, particularly paragraph 1 of article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It reads: “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family”.

[Translation]

    Paragraph 2 of article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

[English]

“The right of man and woman of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized”.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: But international law does not create domestic law unless we pass conventions or statutes in Parliament. I'll give you an example. Canada subscribes to various measures in the fight against poverty, and we have wanted to invoke various treaties in order to require the states to adopt a guaranteed minimum income or social protection measures. International law does not create domestic law unless a country passes laws and conventions.

    Second, you know that it is the federal government's prerogative, a prerogative which it has never exercised, to recognize marriages outside Canada. You bring things back to a more essentialist value. I can understand your reasoning, but your answer on the nature of the feeling of love is not very convincing. I don't see why Parliament should refrain from recognizing the common law unions of people who want to marry, as though their feelings were less genuine and as though their capacity for fidelity, support and commitment were less genuine. What can you say on that subject?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: The appropriate legislator can decide to give a relationship a name that is consistent with its nature. However, when it's not a marriage, by reason of 91.26, it is the provinces that must address the issue; 91.26 enables Parliament to define only marriage, not other types of unions which have nothing to do with marriage. It is the provinces that have the choice to adopt what are called common law relationships or partnerships, same-sex partnerships, in short all kinds of possible partnerships. The federal government's jurisdiction concerns marriage only.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Macklin.

[English]

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    When I sit here and listen to Ms. Brunel's testimony, I wonder what our society would be, what form and shape it would take, if in fact we followed your wish. By the sound of it, it's almost like a do-it-yourself kit--everyone's in to marriage, as a definition.

    Have you thought this through in terms of what you believe the effects of this might be? For example, today we've obviously heard more about polygamy and polyamory than we've heard in most of our hearings. All of a sudden, what was almost a taboo in other jurisdictions where we've been discussing this issue--using anything like a slippery-slope argument--has been more or less kept at the door. People have said we're really not at that issue. But you seem to say--and we had a witness here earlier today clearly stating this--that this is where you believe we should be going.

    Is that a fair appraisal of what you said?

[Translation]

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    Ms. Myriam Brunel: Very partially. My thinking on marriage and the union of two or more persons is relatively recent, going back scarcely a few months. I can say that all the scenarios already exist in society and that they are hidden, secret. Human nature being what it is, everything prohibited is highly tempting. There is much greater divergence from moral behaviour when there are many prohibitions than when there are regulations that provide a structure for various behaviours, various attitudes or various types of unions.

¸  +-(1440)  

[English]

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Mr. Rhéaume, with respect to your thoughts on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, clearly you seem to have a much stronger perspective than did the previous witnesses in talking about where that declaration fits in terms of Canada's legal system. You seem to at least believe we are somewhat limited in our choices by that declaration, since we have in fact adopted and ratified it.

    Is that a fair comment, that you believe we are restricted and would have to change it in the event that we change the definition of marriage?

+-

    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: That's right, and I would add, because I didn't have time to finish it in the previous question, that the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Baker against Canada, 1999, 2.S.C.R. 817, recognized that international law is also a critical influence on the interpretation of the scope of the rights included in the charter.

    Then there is reference to the case of Slaight Communications Inc. in Regina against Keegstra. A bit later, Judge L'Heureux-Dubé says, on page 866:

[We have] to consider the application of the interpretative presumption, established by the Court's decision in Slaight Communications...and confirmed in subsequent jurisprudence, that administrative discretion involving Charter rights be exercised in accordance with similar international human rights norms

    So, of course, it does not force, in each and every case, Parliament to adopt statutes on every kind of thing, but when the statutes are there already, or at least when the principles in Canadian law do not contravene international norms, the idea is to at least not contravene international law with new norms.

    In this respect, that's why you cannot have, at the federal level, a registry of people who are not married if you are thinking of adopting legislation in the field of marriage, because that would be intra vires. That would be outside the scope of marriage. If somebody wants a registry on same-sex unions or partnerships, whatever it's called--but not marriage--it has to be done at the provincial level, and it will not be contrary to those sections of international documents because they don't look at marriage.

+-

    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: With respect to giving you a little extra opportunity here to bring forward your views, you said we would also have to look at the rules of adultery if we were to go forward with a change. Could you clarify that for the committee, please?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: Sure. Currently the notion of adultery refers to a married man who has sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife, or to a married woman who has sexual intercourse with a man who is not her husband. To allow marriage between persons of the same sex would lead to the absurdity that a man married to a man will not commit adultery if he has sexual intercourse with a woman, and that a woman married to a woman will not commit adultery if she has sexual intercourse with a man.

    Moreover, a married person has clearly committed adultery when, during the marriage, he or she has a child from someone who is not his or her spouse. It is admitted that if two homosexuals want to have a child, they will need to have recourse to a woman to act as a surrogate mother. It is also admitted that if two lesbians want to have a child, they will need to have recourse to a man to provide the sperm necessary for insemination. Since they will necessarily have a child through someone who is not their spouse, homosexuals and lesbians who allegedly want to beget children would not be able to have them unless they committed adultery.

    From a conceptual point of view, it is impossible to see how a true marriage, with the related solemn promise and duty of fidelity, would necessarily require at least one of the spouses to commit adultery.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Mr. Ménard.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I don't know whether Mr. Rhéaume managed to follow the Health Committee's work on medically assisted reproduction. First, when you donate sperm or ova, it's not a sexual act. It's a philanthropic act designed to help other persons to have children. I don't think anyone could contend that such an act could lead to adultery.

    I believe the courts of law have a fairly clear definition, but I have very good news for you. The Health Committee recommended that lesbians be permitted to have access to artificial insemination treatments because it understands that it's first of all a medical act.

    One aspect of your testimony surprises me. There is a legal aspect to the question, and you are right in pointing it out, but let's stick to values. Having lived in the homosexual community for four years and having known the era of AIDS and the period of re-appraisal from 1970 to 1995, I think I could quite clearly prove to you that the values of fidelity and mutual commitment exist in that community. Have you considered the fact that, if there is one community that has been decimated throughout history, it is indeed the homosexual community, as a result of AIDS? I could cite testimonials on situations in which people supported others, in which people were part of each other's lives in very difficult conditions. I have trouble accepting the fact that someone can say that people in the homosexual community are less capable of mutual commitment and fidelity.

    You aren't the only one saying such things. In public opinion, there's a tendency to describe homosexuals as a mass of free-floating animal drives, ready instinctively to obey their first desire. That seems to me to stem from the kind of romanticism you see on the screen or in the novels of another century. But in actual fact, certain 40-year-old homosexual men, whether they live in Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg or Nova Scotia, mainly want to have someone in their lives. They want to have a balanced life and to share that life with a partner.

    I would like you to consider the idea that the values underlying heterosexual marriages can also underlie homosexual unions. I know that I won't convince you, but we could meet again if you want to talk about it.

¸  +-(1445)  

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: I didn't say that homosexuals and lesbians couldn't have intimate relationships that last a lifetime. I said that you couldn't call that a marriage. You can call it a union or a partnership. A partnership is more than a union, but it's not a marriage.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: [Inaudible - Ed.]

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    The Chair: No, Mr. Ménard. Let him answer.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: With regard to what you mentioned at the start, I'm very much aware of artificial insemination issues. A few years ago, I read the Baird Commission report and wrote an article on the subject in the Ottawa Law Review. In addition, in 1990, when I published my book, I raised some questions relating to the Canadian Charter and to the issue of artificial insemination. So I've been aware of the issue for a long time. It is nevertheless true that homosexual couples must resort to a third person in order to have children, whereas only two persons are required in a marriage.

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay, you have three minutes.

[English]

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    Mr. John McKay: Mr. Rhéaume, towards the end of your presentation, you ripped through five or six points that I had trouble writing down. There were a number of them that I thought were interesting. The first had to do with the equality test before the Supreme Court.

    I take it that you're not overly impressed by the tests that are applied to equality, or maybe I'm prejudging that. Could you expand on what you meant by your comment about the equality tests.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: This was the last of the points I would like to address, but it is a long one.

    A couple of things are important to keep in mind. There is this notion of capacity and status. Marriage involves both, and when we speak of equality, the Supreme Court itself has been very clear that you cannot invoke the right to equality in matters of capacity and status. I would like to read Judge McIntyre in Andrews, 1989, volume I, Supreme Court Reports 143, page 174:

Distinctions based on personal characteristics attributed to an individual solely on the basis of association with a group will rarely escape the charge of discrimination, while those based on individual's merits and capacities will rarely be so classed.

--see also Miron v. Trudel--

In the context of marriage, the capacity of each future spouse to enter into the relationship is an essential requirement applied on an individual basis, not “on the basis of association with a group”. The one man -- one woman requirement is a fundamental expression of this capacity and should therefore not be invoked as a basis to challenge the essential requirements of marriage.

    In 2000, volume 1, Supreme Court Reports, Lovelace v. Ontario, Justice Iacobucci, speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, quoted with approval the following passage from Law v. Canada, 1999:

As noted by Lamer, C.J. in Rodriquez...the equality guarantee in s. 15(1) is concerned with the realization of personal autonomy and self-determination.

    And I will skip a bit because we are a bit tight on time, but he says that:

Human dignity...is enhanced by laws which are sensitive to the needs, capacities, and merits of different individuals, taking into account the context underlying their differences.

    I'll skip one sentence to the same effect, and then he says, and this is clearly important:

Human dignity within the meaning of the equality guarantee does not relate to the status or position of an individual in society per se, but rather concerns the manner in which a person legitimately feels when confronted with a particular law.

    It's my point that marriage is a question of status and, therefore, the subsection 15(1) approach to this issue is wrong.

¸  +-(1450)  

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Marceau.

+-

    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Rhéaume, I heard you say that you would be prepared to grant rights to homosexuals, but that their union should be given another name than marriage. Did I understand you correctly?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: Absolutely. It should preferably be given a name that would not be confusing. That's what I said in my first brief to the committee.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: I want to be careful not to put words in your mouth. You would like there to be a legal instrument, sanctioned by the state, recognizing same-sex unions and that spouses have roughly the same rights and responsibilities as the spouses in a marriage. However, there is a copyright on marriage, and the heterosexual community holds it.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm in favour of that kind of thing. I'm simply saying that it's possible in constitutional and legal terms and that it should be done at the provincial level, if necessary. However, I wouldn't say that we should fight for it. It would be a stopgap in that we don't need it.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: We don't need to recognize same-sex unions? Is that what you're saying?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: There should be a special status for them.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: If the state makes provision for the conjugal relationship of two persons of the same sex, why should there be a special status? Let's be concrete and talk about civil union. I'm sure you've very carefully read the acvertising of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, which was extraordinary. I'll give you a copy if you wish. Are you comfortable with the idea of civil union?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: Between two persons of the same sex or different sexes?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: It may be both.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: That might cause more confusion. If the common law union as we know it today is that of a man and a woman and if the province decides to give the same name to a relationship between two persons of the same sex, that causes confusion.

    I haven't read the document of the Chambre des notaires, but I believe I understood they approve of same-sex marriages. I'm a member of the Barreau and not the Chambre des notaires. I don't know what the Barreau will say tomorrow, but I can tell you right away that the Barreau did not consult me on this question. I think it's too bad I was not asked for my opinion on the matter, when I have 22 years of experience in law and a doctorate in law and have written a nearly 400-page book on the Canadian Charter and family law.

¸  +-(1455)  

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: All the lawyers around this table have problems with their respective bar associations, and I include myself.

    I'm talking about the advertising document of the Chambre des notaires, in which civil union is described as a marriage look-alike. Ultimately, it's exactly the same thing, except the name is different. You say you disagree with what Quebec did in the case of civil union. Do I understand you correctly?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: I haven't read the details on what Quebec did. From what I understand, the province did what it could do; however, it could not call that union a marriage. “Look-alike” may be the right word, but I didn't read the provincial act in detail.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Just a minute. I want to understand clearly. You just said you've been a member of the Barreau for 22 years, that you have written a 400-page book on family law and that you haven't read the Quebec act on civil union. Is that what I am to understand?

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: The one passed last year?

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Yes.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: No, because I've been living in Ontario for 15 years and I don't need to read an act that is not strictly speaking in my field of everyday practice and which has no direct impact on me. I don't have the time to read every act passed by every province.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: You come here as a jurist, and one of the possible options is civil union. You spoke about it in terms of constitutional jurisdictions, and you say you haven't read the Quebec act, even though it doesn't apply in your everyday life in Ontario. I'm a bit surprised that you've come before this committee as a jurist to talk about civil union when you haven't read the Quebec act.

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    Mr. Jean Rhéaume: I've come before this committee to talk about the notion of marriage between persons of the same sex, which is a federal jurisdiction. I've spoken about the right to equality, which is entrenched in the Charter and which I am very familiar with.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

[English]

    I want to thank the panel.

    I'm going to ask the present panel to excuse themselves, and we'll invite the next panel to come forward and take their place. We'll recommence in three minutes.

¸  +-(1458)  


¹  +-(1503)  

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    The Chair: I call back to order the 38th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

    For the next hour we have as panellists, from the Canadian AIDS Society, Patrick McIntyre, national program consultant, and Paul Lapierre, directeur général; we have as an individual, Julie Pétrin,bienvenue; and we have, from Centrale des syndicats du Québec, Nicole de Sève and Colette Trudel.

    I think everyone is aware of the rules. Each group or individual has seven minutes to make a presentation. At six minutes I'll indicate there is one minute left, and at seven minutes I'll indicate that the time is up. Please bring it to a close then.

    So with that, I'm going to go first to the Canadian AIDS Society, Mr. McIntyre and Monsieur Lapierre, pour sept minutes.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre (Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Society): Good afternoon.

    First I would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee for agreeing to receive us. I would also like to apologize, not on a personal note, but more on a technical note, because it appears that, as a result of technical difficulties, you did not receive our brief in advance. The brief is now being translated. There was a problem of electronic messaging, from what I was able to understand.

¹  +-(1505)  

[English]

    So in other words, since you haven't all read our brief, I will summarize the contents of it very briefly.

    We strongly believe that the current status quo is discriminatory against same-sex couples. When it comes to discrimination, we also believe that discrimination increases the vulnerability of people and therefore people who are vulnerable are also vulnerable to disease. Marriage has additional benefits that we strongly support. In our opinion, some of the key benefits, at the root of our presentation today, include improved health and improved social and economic status, which currently are not available to same-sex couples.

    Therefore, when it comes to your three recommendations or suggestions for discussion here, the Canadian AIDS Society strongly recommends that marriage be changed to include same-sex couples. The benefit of marriage, as I stated earlier, has a positive impact on stigma, health, equality, and social justice for all Canadians. When it comes to HIV/AIDS in Canada, people at risk and people living with HIV/AIDS are victims, or potential victims, in terms of stigma, health, equality, and social injustice. So there is, in our opinion, a great link between HIV/AIDS and marriage.

    As we all know, 50,000 Canadians are living with HIV/AIDS. In the first six months of 2002, 40% of the new cases were men who have sex with other men. When we did interviews that discussed many factors with some of those people suffering from HIV/AIDS, we found that they are victims of discrimination and stigma. Access to quality health care, social services, and social support is often limited due to discrimination.

    So when it comes to equality, we strongly believe the current status quo discriminates against same-sex couples. In 1998 the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian AIDS Society published a report that addressed gay and lesbian issues in HIV/AIDS. Among the recommendations made by that report were the statements: “It seems clear that the current structure of marriage laws discriminates in a very direct manner by excluding gay men and lesbians from a legal and social institution open to heterosexuals” and “The unequal application of the law's treatment of gay men and lesbians creates inconsistencies with dire consequences for those concerned”.

    The report also said, “Respecting the rights of gay and lesbian Canadians is a moral and legal imperative.” In our society in 2002 it is time to let go of that discrimination. We have moved in our society into a more equal social justice framework. We have a Charter of Rights. We are recognizing the rights of Canadians no matter where they live, no matter who they are. We would therefore like a change in the law to address the current situation. So we are glad you are having these hearings to allow us to state our views.

    It is clear that the relationship between marital status and health has a close link. The report from the Adult Population Health Group to the Saskatchewan District Health Board, published in 2002 and entitled “A Call for Action II”, found that married people tend to experience lower mortality and morbidity rates compared to unmarried adults. The report also states that marriage itself contributes positive health outcomes through increased social support, stress reduction, and/or a decrease of engaging in health-damaging behaviour. By recognizing same-sex couples, we are decreasing the risk of HIV exposure, because people will engage less in health-damaging issues.

    The Canadian Public Health Association also stated that people have the right to live and work in communities where they feel accepted, safe, and secure, and without this support many groups will have difficulties in achieving full health potential. If we are to look at health promotion, addressing discrimination by changing the definition will hopefully increase the health of all Canadians.

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    Thirdly--knowing that I have only six minutes--I would like to talk about stigma discrimination.

    Stigma discrimination is often associated with diseases, or stigma discrimination is at the root of some of the problems. Look at TB, at mental illness. In many conditions, a precondition like HIV and AIDS allows countries to refuse entry to their country. If people think you are HIV-positive, you may be refused insurance coverage.

    As long as Canada continues to discriminate against gays and lesbians, it will perpetrate discrimination directly or indirectly against people living with HIV and AIDS, people affected by HIV and AIDS, and people at risk of becoming infected with HIV and AIDS. Discrimination affects the ability of people at risk of infection and living with disease to access a proper, secure, and safe health promotion framework.

    In closing, I would like to draw your attention to the United Nations' special session in June 2001. The UNGA declaration, as it's referred to, is the resolution adopted by the General Assembly. The declaration is a commitment on HIV and AIDS. Canada was part of the team that elaborated that declaration and was part of the adoption of it, or at least the ratification of it. Canada has always stated that they're a proud member of it; therefore, I would like to bring to your attention two of the many paragraphs of the declaration.

    It says, “Recognizing that the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in a global response to...HIV/AIDS”. In addition, by 2003, the goal is to “enact, strengthen and enforce, as appropriate, legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV/AIDS”.

    Therefore, please amend the current act.

    Thank you. Merci.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Ms. Pétrin, you have seven minutes.

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    Ms. Julie Pétrin (As Individual): Affiliation: Ms. Julie Pétrin (As Individual) I've come here because I have a homosexual father who lived with a male spouse for 12 years. That spouse died a few years ago. I'm 26 years old and I am living in a common law marriage with a man. I have a little boy, who is now with his grandfather being consoled. I am studying at university to earn a number of certificates that will lead me up to a degree. I've been a specialized educator working with children and teenagers for five years, including two with the Centre jeunesse de Montréal.

    My parents were married for about six years, until my brother was eight and I was three. They divorced and I found myself with a broken family. My father had known he was homosexual for a number of years, but he nevertheless stayed married to my mother since he had two young children. In 1982, he met the man of his life. I met that man when I was five years old. He was a man I loved very much and who occupied an important place in my life. He was like a second father to me. I saw them together regularly as a couple because I saw my father twice a week. I saw them as two men who formed a loving couple and not as anything abnormal, as was often said. For me, it was normal. Despite my youth, I saw them and understood them that way, because, for me, there is nothing abnormal for two people to be together and to love each other.

    A number of people said it wasn't normal, that my father was going to attack us and abuse us, that we would be neglected, that we'd be in danger. That never happened. I've been surrounded by homosexuals all my life, and nothing untoward has ever happened. They are people who, like heterosexuals, are aware of children's needs and who will always be there for that.

    When I was a teenager, I was repeatedly told that it was not normal for my father to be homosexual, for him to be with another man. I was told that it was something catastrophic, illegal, that he should be locked up, that it was a mental illness that I was going to catch, but it's not that at all. As you can see, I'm living with a man. I'm not yet married to him because a number of events have taken place.

    I was comfortable when I saw my father with his partner. I don't see anything wrong with that, but many people told me that if their son ever told them he was homosexual, they would throw him out of the house. Those people would have disowned a homosexual child.

    What you have to keep in mind is love. Whether it's two persons of the same sex or of opposite sexes, if those people love each other, they shouldn't be prevented from marrying, from forming a couple, from being happy. We shouldn't make them suffer from discrimination or stare at them when we see them in the street. If they have a child, you shouldn't immediately think of the potential danger for that child. You shouldn't think that they're going to abuse the child or that he'll be mistreated because two men or two women are taking care of them and they are together.

    The main disadvantage of being homosexual is the looks of other people. When I was young, the laws didn't make homosexuality or homosexual parents accepted. Other people's looks were always fixed on my father and me. I was embarrassed to walk with him because I always imagined that people were looking at us and saying: “Two men walking with a child, that's unhealthy.” It was normal for me, and I still think that it's normal for two people of the same sex to be together.

    I think we have to eliminate people's prejudices and judgments by passing laws such as the one passed in Quebec City on civil union. I believe that today we're trying to change things so that everything is equal for everyone. That's what's going to make it so that people won't feel they're victims of discrimination in one way or another.

    That's mainly what I had to say. The rest is in the brief. Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I now give the floor to Nicole de Sève and Colette Trudel of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec.

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    Mrs. Nicole de Sève (Counsellor, Centrale des syndicats du Québec): Good afternoon. Since a number of you are not from Quebec, I would like to point out at the outset that the Centrale des syndicats du Québec is a major union organization representing 168,000 persons, whose members mainly work in the education sector. They are not just teaching personnel, but also support staff and professional personnel. Our members are also in early childcare services, health and social services, recreation and community organizations.

    In 1997, at the request of its members, our organization, which is more than 50 years old, established a Gay and Lesbian Rights Committee. Ms. Colette Trudel, who is with me here today, is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Committee. I would point out that she was the first woman in Quebec to take advantage of civil union. There was a male couple, but she was the first woman. So I believe that questions focusing more specifically on that issue should be addressed to Ms. Trudel, who exercised that right and who has been an active member of the committee since its founding.

    It is important to say that, despite a number of legal advances with regard to the evolution of gay and lesbian rights, legal and de facto equality has not yet been completely achieved in our society. The provinces have made advances, of course, and Quebec, as you said a moment ago, has made a very significant move in adopting civil union, but Bill C-32 also constituted a step which enabled us to settle the concept of spouse and extend rights, in particular with regard to pension funds, which was very important.

    However, we feel that, when a society establishes an institution as important as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, equal rights cannot be achieved solely for two consenting adults of the same sex, but also, and I believe Ms. Pétrin's testimony was significant on this point, to their children. In this entire debate, prejudices very often carry the day and family realities are all too often concealed.

    So it is a great pleasure for us to thank the Standing Committee for enabling us to make a recommendation today. I won't dwell on the three assumptions or scenarios, but I will ask you sincerely to make marriage accessible to same-sex couples and to make this a fundamental law issue. I ask you not to maintain the status quo and, especially, not to leave this in the hands of the religious institutions, because we know what that can mean in our societies.

    The Canadian and Quebec legislative frameworks have long recognized marriage as the only constitutional framework for conjugal life between a man and a woman, for reproduction and for the education of children. Over the generations, it is a model that has broken down. From being a holy union between two adults of the opposite sex united by the bonds of marriage, consented to or not—because there was a time when there was not necessarily consent; a husband was chosen for women—couple relationships have evolved, giving rise to a full range of ways of living. Social changes marking the relationships of couples have given rise to a redefinition of family and to certain legal amendments adapted to those new forms.

    As the Law Commission of Canada said so well:

Most jurisdictions are responding to the increasing social acceptance of unmarried cohabitation and same-sex relationships by extending some of the rights and obligations traditionally limited to marriage to such relationships.

    It's in this perspective that we feel marriage should now include same-sex spouses. People who marry are making an intimate decision. They are two persons who decide to commit to each other. That's a personal decision made by responsible adults. In that respect, gays and lesbians are responsible, mature persons capable of making their own choices. They have endured many difficulties in their lives as a result of discrimination and have shown great maturity since they have suffered for so many years without resorting to inappropriate action such as violence. On the contrary, they have used legal tools. It is true that the legal framework of marriage specifies the rules that determine the legal authorization of marriage.

    I would like to remind you that, according to a poll conducted by Léger Marketing in June 2001, more than 76 percent of the Quebec population was in favour of same-sex marriages.

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Elsewhere in Canada, that rate varied between 50 percent and 65 percent. Are we to understand that Canadians are more sensitive than others to all discrimination issues? I believe this is a demonstration of the fact that there is greater sensitivity to discrimination and that people want discrimination to stop.

    It is true that conjugal life and the family are founding institutions of society. It's also true that the recognition of same-sex couples is not without consequences and that legislative changes have more than legal impact. Canada has long been cited as a model of an egalitarian society. We have taken giant steps in the recognition of women's and men's rights. Perhaps we haven't solved all the problems of discrimination against ethnic and visible minorities, and we still have a problem with the Aboriginal nations, but we have nevertheless taken steps. So we ask you to recognize that gays and lesbians have all the recognized rights of all other persons in Canadian society.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Breitkreuz.

[English]

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I'll share my time with Mr. Cadman.

    Thank you very much to all the presenters who came forward.

    I must make an observation on a study that Mr. Lapierre quoted, a Saskatchewan study, which pointed out that people who are married are happier and live longer. So you made, I would suggest, the great leap of saying we should include homosexuals as well in the definition of marriage so that they would get the health benefits that come to married people.

    We had a previous presenter here today make the point that heterosexuals who are married complement each other and fulfill needs and thereby reap some of these things. That study actually reaches the opposite conclusion to what you used here, and I want to point that out. You cannot make that leap.

    I don't think in any way that study implied that same-sex marriages would reap the same results as heterosexual marriages would reap. I don't know how you could ever portray that Saskatchewan study as doing that when in fact it clearly makes it out that men and women complement each other, and if they have these stable marriage relationships, that's what gives them the health benefits. So to conclude that this would also come to same-sex marriages I think is a huge leap.

    I don't know if you can comment on that or not.

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    The Chair: I think that's to Mr. Lapierre.

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre (National Program Consultant, Canadian AIDS Society): Good afternoon.

    In response, the study that was quoted was a study of married couples in Canada. There are no same-sex married couples in Canada to which to compare.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: That's my point. How can you use that as a conclusion for that?

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: But how can it be ignored when considering same-sex marriage? How can the issue of the endowments of social status, improved health, economic status, those indicators, only be measured in terms of married couples to heterosexuals? We don't know if it's limited, if your case is actually substantiated either.

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    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Well, why do you use that, then, as an example to support what you're saying if in fact you've just now admitted that it doesn't?

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: Further on in the brief you will discover that the Saskatchewan study also went on to look at the experience of gay and lesbian people in Canada and how that discrimination against them prevents them from accessing health and other services.

    This was a study on health. This study was performed by Canadians, and what they were able to recognize is that marriage has a positive effect on health. Marriage has a positive effect on social circumstances. Are you going to deny that opportunity to homosexuals simply because of their sexual orientation?

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    The Chair: Mr. Cadman.

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: I have a brief question for Ms. Pétrin.

    You enumerated a number of incidents where you were teased and things were said about your father, which again, all of us on this committee deplore; that shouldn't be happening. But if your father had been allowed to marry, how would that have changed the attitudes of other children towards you? I'm not suggesting that we don't have to correct those attitudes, but I'm just wondering, how would the fact that your father had been allowed marry have impacted or changed that?

[Translation]

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    Ms. Julie Pétrin: Perhaps that would have changed nothing, but I think so. When there is a statute that causes people to accept certain things and the government to accept marriage between homosexuals and civil union, to accept that homosexuals can adopt children and to ensure that all persons are equal, be they black, Arab, same-sex spouses or opposite-sex spouses, when things are legal and recognized by authorities, ordinary citizens make these things acceptable. So things change.

    If nothing is changed, if the laws remain as they stand, people will remain ignorant about homosexuality. People have to talk about it and recognize what it is for people who are open to it. That was done in the case of blacks and ethnic groups. Changes were made and those persons were recognized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was stated that they should not have to suffer discrimination because they were of a different colour. They are equal to us.

    As a result of that, there were prevention programs, and a lot of things were done in the schools to sensitize young people and adults to the need to put a stop to discrimination. Some things changed. Homosexuals must also be recognized as having the right to marry and must be given the opportunity to choose to live in social union, remain single or to marry.

    If laws are passed, that will change things in people's consciousness. The work isn't completely done. There will have to be programs in the schools. These are all things that will have to be done as time goes on. It wouldn't be harmful for this to be accepted. That would definitely help.

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[English]

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    Mr. Chuck Cadman: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Cadman.

    Mr. Marceau, you have seven minutes.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to the witnesses for their excellent presentations.

    Ms. Pétrin, it has been suggested many times before this committee that the children of homosexual parents were disturbed and had adjustment problems and psychological problems. Your presence, your speech and your personality clearly show that this is false. How do you respond to people who say that you have to watch out for the children, that there are consequences and all that?

    As a person who loves her homosexual father, who was familiar with the homosexual environment and who has shared her life with a homosexual couple, what do you have to say in response to those people?

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    Ms. Julie Pétrin: They are ignorant people who haven't seen children raised by homosexuals. They haven't seen how those children lived and were treated. There are some disturbed children being raised by heterosexual couples. It's not because a child is raised by homosexuals, whether they're two men or two women, that she's disturbed. That can happen, but the cause isn't the parents' homosexuality. There are so many potentially decisive factors in a child's development that that can't be attributed to the parents' homosexuality. The only thing that a child of a homosexual couple experiences is stigmatization, as all the studies show. It's being pointed at because no one recognizes that this is something normal, that it's not a disease, and it's not transmissible. It's something normal, and that must be recognized. Then things will change and there will be less stigmatization.

    That's what the children experience, but, as for the rest, homosexuals are aware of a child's development. Female homosexuals are also aware of the fact that there has to be a man in the picture. So uncles, grandparents or even the couple's best friend are there for that child. They are aware of all these things. They don't do it by snapping their fingers and saying to themselves that they want a child, without thinking about the environment that child needs.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: How do you respond to those who say that, because the parental model is homosexual, the child will become homosexual? You said in your brief and you repeated that you are heterosexual, despite the fact that your father is homosexual. Some people have made that connection. They say, without any evidence incidentally, that a child who is exposed or over-exposed to a homosexual parental model has a greater tendency to become homosexual. What do you have to say about that as a person who experienced that and as a specialized child educator?

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    Ms. Julie Pétrin: When I was young, I watched a program by Claire Lamarche, in which there was a father and his son who were both homosexual. But apart from that, in the environment I lived in, I never saw other similar cases. It's not transmissible. I don't think it's proven that homosexuality is genetic, but I don't think you catch it by living with a homosexual couple. What will be transmitted is the fight. I'm fighting for rights to be recognized and for prejudices to be eliminated. I don't have any prejudices about ethnic groups, sexual differences or social class differences, because I'm open to that. I don't think any study can prove that you catch it by living with a homosexual couple.

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    Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you very much for your eloquent testimony.

    Mr. Lapierre, some people have said that men and women complete each other and that that's why things work so well in a couple. They have different attributes. It's as though it was a collective agreement: at the time of the wedding, here's what the woman brings to the couple and what the man brings to the couple. You work in the health field. Instead of saying that men and women complete each other, shouldn't we say instead that, if people are happy and in good health, it's because they have support, a spouse who loves them, someone who listens to them when they talk about their problems, someone who is their best friend, someone with whom they will experience sexual fulfillment, emotional fulfillment and spiritual fulfillment? Instead of talking about a man and a woman who complete each other, shouldn't we instead talk about a person who finds his or her soulmate in life, to use a romantic term, and say that the sex of that soulmate is not important? Isn't the fact that a person has found his or her soulmate and is living with that soulmate, whether that person is of the same sex or the opposite sex, the key to the happiness you refer to?

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: I entirely agreed with what you're saying, Mr. Marceau. It's the way two individuals complement each other that's important. Whether they are a man and a woman, two men or two women. People talk about a system of exchange, mutual respect, values and complementarity in order to promote fulfillment. The sexual orientation of a man or a woman is very secondary, in my view.

[English]

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the witnesses.

    To Messrs. Lapierre and McIntyre, you're critical of the Canadian government's immigration laws. As you know, in order to immigrate to Canada, there's a criminality test and there's a health test. In the health test, the issue is whether the individual proposing to immigrate to Canada will be a significant burden on the Canadian health care system.

    You appeared to take the view that people who have HIV/AIDS should be excluded from that test, or that should not be a disqualifying element to their immigration to Canada. Given that a heart condition is potentially a pretty significant cost to the Canadian health care system, cancer is a particularly significant cost to the health care system, and HIV/AIDS is a significant cost to the health care system, I'm somewhat curious as to why this particular affliction or disease should be eliminated from the Canadian test, as opposed to those other diseases?

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: It's a complex issue. What I'd like to add here is that in order to immigrate to Canada there are too many factors or considerations. If you can come as a refugee, the status is not considered. You can immigrate as a family where the status is not considered. If you are to immigrate to Canada, to move to your wife or your husband, your HIV status will not be considered in the equation if you are legally married. We're saying, if a same-sex couple is not legally married, they are facing discrimination by immigration.

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    Mr. John McKay: If you're a refugee and you show up at Pearson International Airport, you're right; if you are a refugee who is selected from a camp, you are not right, because there are health tests applied to refugees who are selected. The only way a refugee gets around the health test is by simply showing up and claiming refugee status.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you were saying.

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    Mr. John McKay: Your point was that it is not considered when they are refugees. When refugees simply show up, of course, the immigration officials can't consider the health, because they've just shown up and haven't gone through the test.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: On the grounds of HIV status only, a refugee will not be refused entry. Only if he or she is HIV-positive, there are other factors to be considered. But if you come as a non-refugee or as non-family, then you are going to be screened, and the HIV status will be considered as a health burden to the system. There have been some cases where someone, through that route of applying for citizenship or if they wanted to be immigrants to Canada, was denied entry because of the status, but if you are a refugee that sole account is not considered.

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    Mr. John McKay: Comparing apples to apples, if I'm a potential immigrant coming from India, should I not be screened for HIV/AIDS? Forget the refugees and all the rest of the stuff, should I not be screened for that?

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: It's a large question that requires a lot of discussion. In order to better assess new Canadians, we need to know their condition.

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    Mr. John McKay: Okay, I only have seven minutes, so let me go to another question.

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    The Chair: Actually, you only have three minutes.

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    Mr. John McKay: Thank you, Chair.

    My second question is that you make this linkage between marriage and health. There is substantive truth to that. You live longer and healthier lives with better outcomes for kids, etc. The underlying assumption here is that when people get married they actually change their behaviour, particularly their sexual behaviour but a lot of other behaviours as well. Expectations are set.

    We've been repeatedly told that this is merely going to be a label change, a change in status rather than anything else. You seem to be assuming that there will be quite a dramatic change in the behaviour of gays and lesbian people if in fact they do attain the status of marriage.

    My first question is this: what behaviours would you expect will change that will result in better health for those couples so that those couples would appear to be closer to the profile norm of a heterosexual married couple?

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: Just looking at the studies, again, we're going back to apples and oranges. It's hard to make these comparisons, because we don't know what the effects will be, so we're going to be making assumptions.

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    Mr. John McKay: I don't want to undercut your main point.

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: I'm just addressing the fact that you addressed it as an assumption, that we made a leap. I'm agreeing with you. We have to, because we have nothing to base it on. What we're looking at is what's currently happening in heterosexual communities—the effects of marriage over time and the effects of marriage on families and on individuals. I can make my personal assumptions, but in terms of what we see, there is a positive effect on health. Is that because of increased fidelity? Perhaps. In every case? Who knows.

    As for trying to pin it down to behaviour modification, marriage is a contract between two persons, so you're supporting these two people to be united, to the exclusion of all others. That's the essence.

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    Mr. John McKay: I appreciate your candour that there may not be a basis.

    The other question has to do with this. We're in Quebec and people seem to be abandoning marriage like rats from a ship. I just wonder, it does seem to be a bit of a contradiction to have one part of a society going one way, and yet others going exactly the opposite and arguing that because they'll be admitted to this institution significant benefits will accrue to them. I'm curious about your comments on that.

¹  +-(1545)  

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: I think the status quo sets up the imbalance. Any talk of special rights has been set up by the status quo. That's currently where we sit in this situation, where some Canadians can get married and receive some of the benefits and endowments that marriage offers, and common-law statutes don't permit that.

    Protections under the divorce law don't protect vulnerable partners in case of a dissolution of a union in common law, so what does that mean for a same-sex couple with children whose union must dissolve? What protections are there for them?

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    The Chair: Mr. McKay and Mr. McIntyre, thank you.

    Ms. de Sève.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole de Sève: Can the advantages and disadvantages of marriage be evaluated? That's not the question. It's a question of rights. Do we recognize that two individuals who share a common plan can have the same rights and obligations as opposite-sex spouses? Whether that makes them happier or not, regardless of the trend in Quebec or Canada, that nevertheless remains a desire that is quite deeply rooted and has a symbolism.

    A number of people ask what effect that can have on children. It can help show children that there is a social recognition and legitimization of their parents' relationship. In addition, by passing a Canadian statute, we would be forcing all provinces, which are responsible for filiation and parenthood, to resolve questions of filiation and parenthood and to enable those persons, if their spouse is dying, to consent to care for the spouse or to be responsible for his or her child at school. That would make it possible for the rights to be passed on?

    Let's stop asking ourselves whether a person will be happier or unhappier, or whether he will be in better or worse health. This is a question of rights. First let's resolve the question of rights, then we'll see about our health.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Ménard, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: I have one question for Mr. Lapierre and another for Ms. Trudel.

    Mr. Lapierre, ultimately, the challenge is to convince the opponents of marriage that the legislative environment has something to do with self-esteem and that people, more particularly young homosexuals, won't have any more self-esteem than their environment allows them to have.

    For example, in the early 1990s, the Canadian AIDS Society conducted a campaign on the theme: “Let's take care of our own.” We have to work to build a society in which people who discover they are homosexual, whether in high school, university or in the work place, feel like being homosexual and living well. They must not say to themselves that they're going to be in a different environment. There are links between that and health. Perhaps you could indicate them to us.

    Ms. Trudel, you're involved in a civil union. If you had the choice, if the legislative environment were different, would you have exercised your right to marry? Let's go back five years. You're in a relationship with someone else, and you decide to get married. Would you have wished to marry even if civil union had been available? Is marriage something qualitatively superior in your mind?

[English]

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    The Chair: I think the question was--

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: There were two questions, brief as usual: one for Mr. Lapierre and one for Ms. Trudel.

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    The Chair: Mr. Lapierre.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: Mr. Ménard, standards have to be set in order to create a safe environment. Whether it's acceptance at school, in a church or in society, homosexuality, in my view, should not be perceived as a problem of society, but as a value added to society. Whether it's redefining couples or redefining our ways of thinking, a number of governments have already taken major steps. Unfortunately, I don't live in Quebec, but there are nevertheless a number...

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Yes, easily.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: No. I would like to talk to you about vulnerability. If standards are set, behaviour often goes with them. When you're accepted, as is the case in a society that promotes fulfillment, things normally change.

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    The Chair: Ms. Trudel.

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    Ms. Colette Trudel (Centrale des syndicats du Québec): I'm going to talk about my experience with civil union. Of course, common law spouses, heterosexual or homosexual, are recognized, but I have seen that homosexual common law spouses were not as recognized as heterosexual spouses in people's minds and in the way they see us. For them, it's as though we're not stable couples.

    My spouse, Louise, and I have been living together for 20 years. When we entered into civil union, the people in Louise's family changed. Louise's mother told me that she could finally call me her daughter-in-law. For her brothers and sisters, it was as though we had suddenly become a legal couple. But I hadn't realized that before. Even in my work place, I suddenly felt I was in a legal situation. People look at me differently. I find that empowering.

    I wanted to make a commitment because I wanted to show that we could make a commitment as well. I believed it was important to make a commitment, but I didn't believe that would have such an effect. If that happens across Canada, it will be wonderful. That will do everyone a lot of good and it will show people who discover that they're homosexual that it is possible for them to make a commitment and that that commitment can be for the long term. I'm telling you that it was an extraordinary and important experience for me.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Very important.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Ménard.

    Mr. Macklin.

[English]

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses.

    I'd like to pursue a little further the concept of raising the dignity and respect of gay and lesbian couples and the effect on their health and issues relating to that.

    I am concerned, I suppose, about support for that issue and whether it can be demonstrated that in fact it would occur. I was just quickly looking at the list of those within the world who have registered partnerships and have had registered partnerships, it appears, since...about 1989 in Denmark looks about as far back as I can see. But do you have any evidence from those registered partnership situations—obviously the name of marriage is missing—that would show that once the committed relationship was able to translate into a legal form, in fact patterns of behaviour changed and heath did improve in those jurisdictions? Do you have any support for your position from that perspective?

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: In terms of statistics from...?

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: Yes, any indication that would show, for example, that the HIV/AIDS started to decrease in terms of its--

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: I can provide the committee with some statistics. I don't have them on hand.

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    Mr. Paul Harold Macklin: I think that would be appropriate, if you could, please, and send them to our clerk. I think it's very important that if your case is being made that way, we should be able to support it.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Monsieur Ménard.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: Mr. Chairman, you're so good to me. I hadn't given up charming you, Mr. Chairman, but within parliamentary limits.

    This is the seventh debate we've had in the House of Commons on gay rights. When you count the debate on the hate crimes provisions, this is the seventh. You know that we see the same batch of very trying prejudices every time. I thought I had become immune, but I got a little annoyed earlier, and I apologize. Every time there's a debate, it's as though there was a relationship between the protections offered and the message sent to citizens. I refuse to say that the right to marriage is only a question of rights. It's also a question of citizenship. I don't see how we can fight AIDS and marital violence and instill a desire to make a commitment in society on a civic issue until we have sent the ultimate message, which is that, with respect to our rights, marriage is a question of citizenship.

    Are there a lot of people in the community who want to marry? I'm not sure. Moreover, I haven't seen any statistics, and I don't think anyone around the table has either. What people want is the right to choose. Those who want to marry will marry, and those who don't won't.

    Do you agree with me that we should write in our report that marriage is a question of rights and a question of obligations, but that it's first and foremost an act of citizenship? Isn't that somewhat the way your union federation has addressed this issue with highly committed and fascinating supporters?

¹  +-(1555)  

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    Ms. Colette Trudel: I'm going to give you an example. I'm a teacher. At the Centrale, we produced a video on homophobia in the schools. I feel I'm very well liked in teaching, by my students.

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: You can't be a math teacher.

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    Ms. Colette Trudel: No. I'm a science and computer science teacher. I speak in the video. People didn't know what I was, and the reaction was extraordinary. There were people in the school who, because they were homosexual, had been subject to attacks, prejudices and so on, and things changed in the school. At one point, a kind of respect was established in the school between individuals, a respect of differences. One young homosexual wrote to me to say that he finally had a model. He had learned that I was in a civil union. He told me that he had a model for civil union, a model to hold on to and that it was better than the parades you see. That's what he wrote me. Moreover, I still have that letter on me. It should be published in a newspaper. I received no negative comments.

    Some people were homophobes, who said homophobic things, and who, after watching the video, came to apologize to me. Things changed, and I'm happy about that. That proves to young people that homosexuals have the opportunity to have a job, be stable, be full-fledged citizens and enter into the union they want. Why couldn't we do that before? We said so often that we were this and that that we turned inward and didn't think we could be people like everyone else. This proves that we are people like everyone else. That's what's important.

[English]

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    The Chair: Ms. de Sève.

[Translation]

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    Mrs. Nicole de Sève: I would simply add, Mr. Ménard, that entering the field of law is entering the field in which you exercise citizenship. There's no contradiction between the two. We're entering the field of the Charter because we're looking to see if they'll be a legislative change. But that entails responsible citizenship, as well as duties and obligations, moral obligations and so on. So there's no contradiction.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mrs. Jennings, you have three minutes.

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    Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for your presentations.

    I'm going to ask you a question, and I would like each of you to answer it. Before asking it, I'm going to give you an explanation.

    At the public consultation sessions I was able to attend, because I didn't attend the meetings in Western Canada, some witnesses came and said that, if the Supreme of Canada ever ruled that non-recognition of same-sex marriages and the definition restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated our Charter and were thus unconstitutional, Parliament should invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect that definition, which, according to the Court, would be a violation of a fundamental right. I must say that, personally, that kind of argument scares me.

    I would like you to tell me, not as experts, jurists or educators, but as ordinary citizens who, I assume, support our Charter, who are proud of our Charter, what you would think if people invoked the notwithstanding clause, if the Supreme Court of Canada ever said that restricting the definition of marriage to one man and one woman is a violation of the fundamental rights of people, homosexuals, lesbians and so on. In fact, I'm convinced that that's what the Supreme Court would say. As ordinary citizens, what would you think of that?

º  +-(1600)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Lapierre.

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    Mr. Paul Lapierre: I wouldn't be surprised if some members of Parliament or members of society invoked the notwithstanding clause, but I would be very disappointed. Canada, and Canadians, have evolved. Our leaders have taken a stand and there is an international recognition of a number of our issues. I would be very disappointed if Parliament decided to use the notwithstanding clause.

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    Mrs. Nicole de Sève: I think it would be depriving people of their right to personal dignity and security. Recourse to the notwithstanding clause lasts five years. Are you telling us that, if that occurred, we would have to reopen the file every five years with you or others and start all over again? Do you realize how far you would be undermining people's dignity and continuing to subject them to expenses, debates and heartbreak, whereas we're requesting that what is fundamental in a democratic society, that is to say equality, be respected?

    I encourage you not to resort to the notwithstanding clause. Don't you think this is enough? You said earlier that you've come back to questions like criminalization and so on seven or eight times. Is this going to be over? The final stage is before us. Please don't set gay and lesbian men and women back five years. Give them a chance to live in dignity.

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    The Chair: Ms. Trudel.

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    Ms. Colette Trudel: I agree with Ms. de Sève. I would be very upset and disappointed if that had to happen. I would be disappointed in Canada, which boasts of having the best Charter in the world. If it did that, that wouldn't be consistent with the Charter, and that would be horrible for me.

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    The Chair: Ms. Pétrin.

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    Ms. Julie Pétrin: I don't have much to say. If you do that, obviously there will be people coming back in five years, but it would be unpleasant to come back in five years to fight once again for the same things. Steps have been taken, and it would be unfortunate to turn back. That's all I have to say. Ms. de Sève made a very good speech on that.

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    The Chair: Mr. McIntyre.

[English]

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    Mr. Patrick McIntyre: Thank you for bringing this up.

    I believe very strongly in the charter. Being born and raised in this country, I'm very proud of it.

    I tend to look at the notwithstanding clause as a release valve. I am alarmed that this issue would necessitate its use. I really feel that there are probably better uses for it. After you've come to the table eight different times to address something that is fairly clear, I think that the use of the notwithstanding clause is using a mallet to tap in a small finishing nail.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, Madame Jennings, and thank you very much to the panel.

    Before the panel is excused, let me just explain what's going to happen now. We're going to suspend for a few moments to set up a microphone. We have four individuals who would like to make statements. Because there has been more demand for time to participate than supply, we've introduced this stand-up microphone idea. It has worked quite well, I think, across the country. I'll give advance notice to those who will be called upon when we return, and I should say that Ms. Jennings is going to chair that particular part of this exercise.

    They are: Michel Lizotte, Mark Sward, Jean Bruno Villeneuve, and Jacques Marengère.

    Again, thank you very much to the panel. Merci beaucoup.

º  +-(1605)  


º  +-(1610)  

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): I would ask everyone to please take their seats.

[Translation]

    Five individuals expressed their intention to make a presentation. As the committee Chair has said, each person will have two minutes. I will be very strict on that.

    The first person to speak will be Mr. Michel Lizotte. Mr. Lizotte, the floor is yours.

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    Mr. Michel Lizotte (As Individual): I hope you will give me at least 10 seconds to thank you. I know it's not easy at four o'clock because you have heard so many things. I want to congratulate you for your tenacity and to thank you for the opportunity to give you my opinion as a Canadian citizen.

    Dear committee members, what humanity calls a marriage is a path which it one day discovered. It is a route set out by nature that humanity one day took and which, to its great surprise, led to unhoped-for treasure, since that path led it out of sterility.

    That road is the one that transforms a human couple into a fulfilled family. It's the one that precedes the formation of a stable, committed and united society. It is the path of life, an entirely full life.

    Life is what's most precious in humanity. Without life, man is nothing. He has no matter, no identity, no singularity. His coming into existence is the condition on which he can sense that he is, that he thinks, that he can say “I am”. For that reason, humanity has no other choice but to show unconditional respect for life and to show that respect in its works, which seek to make this incredible gift of nature bear fruit.

    The entire architecture of marriage is based on an improvement of the life which it is ordered to produce: the life of two profoundly different beings who commit themselves to it, a man and a woman, and who in it find security and trust to build their future together, but especially that of the child who was born to it. A baby, weak, fragile and without resources, requires its parents' care over an extended period and their free and unconditional love for its entire life and will be profoundly nourished by the marriage.

    The baby's characteristics call for the couple to achieve stability and solidarity, provided the man and woman have achieved a union of the flesh that can result in the baby's birth. Consequently, it cannot be denied that marriage designed by nature is the perfect and excellent response which embodies all the hopes of the spouses as well as those of the child who may one day be born.

    I have only three more paragraphs. May I finish?

º  +-(1615)  

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Your time is already up. I don't want to be mean, but, if I let you, everyone will request more time. I want everyone to have the time to speak. Perhaps you could just give us your conclusion, the final paragraph.

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    Mr. Michel Lizotte: Affiliation: Mr. Michel Lizotte. May I read two paragraphs instead of four?

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Only one paragraph.

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    Mr. Michel Lizotte: For marriage, which has always been heterosexual in nature, to be able to open up to homosexual partners, the carnal and spiritual union between homosexuals must naturally produce the same fruit as that of marriage instituted by nature. However, that is not the case, and human observation over millennia does not appear to show that nature seeks to achieve that change. Thus it is nature that dictates marriage plans. Since humanity does not have the necessary authority to change those laws, it has no other choice but to submit to them. Consequently, marriage cannot be altered by Parliament or any other human person to include the type of relationship that differs in natural terms.

    Thank you.

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Thank you, Mr. Lizotte.

[English]

    Mr. Mark Sward.

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    Mr. Mark Sward (As Individual): I'll do my best to keep it to two minutes.

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): I would appreciate that.

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    Mr. Mark Sward: Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I would like to express my views on a few of the arguments that have been made today.

    First, giving same-sex couples the right to marry is not a question of raising children. There are already many families in Canada in which two adults of the same gender raise children. Allowing them to marry can only further strengthen those families. It was argued earlier that children of married couples are better adjusted than other children. Let's give children in same-sex families that same chance.

    Second, opening marriage to same-sex couples does not necessarily open the door to other non-traditional arrangements like polygamy. Unlike sexual orientation, these types of relationships have not, to my knowledge, been shown by science to be innate characteristics of an individual's identity. A lesbian cannot choose to be heterosexual. A polygamist can, however, choose to engage in a two-person relationship.

    Third, this is not a question of religion. Membership in religious groups is optional; membership in the state is not. I argue that if same-sex couples are given the right to marry, it will strengthen the government's mandate to protect the right of religious groups to recognize or not recognize these marriages.

    Finally, heterosexual culture is not in danger here. As a biological reality, heterosexuality is simply too strong to be endangered by same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship of trust, respect and love. To say this kind of relationship can only exist between members of the opposite sex is to say that homosexuals are incapable of such a union. That is not the case.

    The idea of an ostensibly separate but equal status has never worked, as you, Madame Jennings, pointed out earlier. One group is inevitably denied the equality it deserves. Please, give queer youth the assurance we need that the Government of Canada is willing to give our relationships the same dignity and honour as those of our heterosexual friends and allies.

[Translation]

    Thank you for coming to listen to us. I wish you courage since you will have to make a major decision.

[English]

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Mr. Sward, I congratulate you. You did it in less than two minutes. Thank you.

[Translation]

    Mr. Jean Bruno Villeneuve. Welcome, Mr. Villeneuve.

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    Mr. Jean Bruno Villeneuve (As Individual): Thank you. I've come to talk to you today as a young homosexual man 21 years of age. I've been in a monogamous relationship with one partner for four years. It's a stable relationship, contrary to what has been said today.

    I'm going to talk to you about what I believe at my age. I mainly believe that no one has a right to relegate my relationship to a second-class position, as is currently the case under Canada's statutory provisions on marriage. I also believe that the question of gay and lesbian rights could be very closely related to the question of women's rights and the women's movement. When women sought the right to vote, when women sought the same rights as men in society, people anticipated changes to society and even the destruction of the social order, which did not occur. Instead we witnessed a more equal society, in which men and women could grow equally. That's what could happen for homosexuals.

    As you may know, the main cause of death among homosexuals, of all ages, is suicide. As legislators, you have a responsibility to serve the community and to ensure its health and esteem. You must also see that that community is not excluded or willingly relegated to second class status. That's the mandate that has been given to you by the citizens of Canada.

    We want equality. That's a fundamental need in human beings. This is a question of dignity and a question of rights. We pay taxes like everyone, we go to work like everyone, we get up, we go to bed, we do the same things as heterosexuals. Unfortunately, our relationships are not viewed in the same light. It's deplorable and unacceptable. Thank you.

º  -(1620)  

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Thank you very much.

    Ms. Micheline Petithomme.

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    Ms. Micheline Petithomme (As Individual): Thank you very much for this opportunity to share what I think. I also thank you for your courage. I thank God for this opportunity to debate a very important subject together.

    I'm going to read two passages from the Bible. The first is the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans, Chapter 1, verses 24 to 27:

ç 1.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lust of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves;

ç 1.25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

ç 1.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature;

ç 1.27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

    But there's hope, because Saint John says, in Chapter 3, verse 16:

For God so loved the world...

    He loved each of us. Mr. Ménard, Mr. Jean, Ms. Micheline, yes, God so loved you that he gave his only son, Jesus Christ, so that all those who believed in Jesus Christ would have eternal life. Whether we like it or not, everyone here must die, but we can choose eternal life, which lasts eternally with God in Jesus Christ.

    Thank you very much.

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    The Acting Chair (Mrs. Marlene Jennings): Thank you, Ms. Petithomme.

    I would like to thank all those who have appeared here today and who made presentations, but also all those who attended today's meeting for their understanding and commitment. I thank my friends.

    The committee will meet tomorrow morning at 8:30 in this room.

    The meeting is adjourned.