OTTAWA, June 17, 2005 The modest official amendments proposed to Bill C-38 are an admission by the Parliamentary Committee examining the bill that it has far-reaching impacts on federal law, CCRL President Phil Horgan commented today.
In its First Report to Parliament, the Legislative Committee on Bill C-38 requested two amendments to strengthen religious freedom. The first, in the preamble, notes that it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage. The second specifies that freedom of religion and freedom of conscience guarantees in the Charter will protect persons and organizations in the expression of their belief in the traditional definition of marriage. (Full text of amendments.)
As our partners in the Defend Marriage coalition note, the passage of Bill C-38 has serious implications for freedom of religion even with these amendments, says Mr. Horgan. Much of the impact of Bill C-38 falls under provincial jurisdiction, so Canadians who oppose the redefinition of marriage can expect future litigation if the law passes, in areas including education, property, health care and employment.
Mr. Horgan, a lawyer who participated in all provincial and federal court challenges on the marriage question, added, It is worth remembering that when the same sex marriage cases were first argued, court decisions in three provinces reserved to Parliament the opportunity to bring forward legislation to address numerous concerns prior to granting the remedy of a marriage license to same sex partners. That deference to Parliament’s legislative role in governance was overrun by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2003, and by later decisions, which authorized such licenses to be issued immediately.
A three section draft bill was reviewed by the Supreme Court of Canada in late 2004. Bill C-38 was already a longer and more extensive proposal to bring about what gay advocates described as a simple change in the law. We now have further proposed amendments to address federal jurisdiction concerns, in the absence of adequate provincial safeguards.
Do Canadians need further proof of the wide-ranging impacts that this change will have? A majority of Canadians already oppose the redefinition of marriage. They will not be persuaded that such a change inflicted by unelected judges can be made without grave future consequences.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244, firstname.lastname@example.org