Catholic Social and Political Activism

Same-Sex Marriage - The Death of Canadian Democracy and the Birth of Judicial Unilateralism

by Pete Vere, JCL and John Pacheco

As Canadian university students during the early 90's, the current authors survived the failure of the Meech Lake accord. In the aftermath of this failed referendum, we witnessed a divided country, the near-extinction of Canada's oldest political party, and the re-birth of a nearly successful Quebec separatist movement. Never could we imaging that we would live through another event that so affected the psyche of our nation.

And yet, for the American reader, this blow to the psyche of Canadian social conservatives is precisely what happened recently. As reported in the July 10th edition of, "The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled this morning that homosexual 'marriage' is now a right guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, and thus re-wrote Canadian law on the matter. The court rendered invalid the existing definition of marriage to the extent that it refers to 'one man and one woman' and reformulated the definition of marriage as 'the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others'. The justices ordered their redefinition of marriage to have 'immediate effect'."

Not surprisingly, within days Canada's Prime Minister provided the following sterile reaction to the Ontario Court ruling. "We will not be appealing the recent decision on the definition on marriage, rather we will be proposing legislation," Jean Chretien states, "we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognize the union of same-sex couples. As soon as the legislation is drafted it will be referred to the Supreme Court."

Thus the Ontario Court of Appeals, through judicial fiat, legalized so-called same-sex marriage. And as the shock sets in, Canada once again finds itself transformed from a generally relaxed and polite people into an angry and divided nation. America may share in many of our social ills - rampant divorce and abortion come to mind - but at least she still fights the culture war. Canadians, on the hand, have all but surrendered to the pan-sexualist social agenda of our judicial activists. Unfortunately, most elected Canadian politicians are content to allow the judiciary to usurp parliament's legislative power. For if a controversial ruling come from the courts, then the average Canadian is less likely to take out his frustration at the ballot box. This allows Canada's politicians to have their cake and eat it too.

Yet despite the fact our beloved Maple Leaf now symbolizes Canada's role as the red light district of the global village, the problem does not cease at the Canadian border. Ontario lacks any residency requirement for issuing marriage licenses, therefore this same judiciary will marry homosexual couples from other countries as well. Less than a month after the Ontario Court ruling, over 300 same-sex couples have already entered into civil marriages in Canada. Mainstream Canadian news agencies report anywhere between ten to twenty percent of these couples are Americans who crossed the border to take advantage of the Canadian situation.

This is rather shameful considering that just a few months previous to the Ontario Court ruling, the Canadian government had voiced strong opposition to American and British unilateralism in the Iraqi War. Regardless of one's feelings toward the war, however, such unilateralism cannot even begin to compare with Canada's present unilateralism in attempting to redefine an institution that almost every nation throughout time has accepted as an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman. In fact, the present authors consider the unilateral arrogance of our Canadian judiciary second only to the unilateral cowardice of our elected officials in refusing to defend their legislative role within the Canadian government. Yet returning to our original point, Canada now finds itself exporting its new definition of marriage without first having consulted the international community.

While these same-sex marriages currently have no standing in the United States, Americans should anticipate a number of court-challenges in coming months as the homosexual lobby seeks to advance its agenda south of the border. Despite the fact that marriage predates both Church and State, and despite the fact that just a few years ago the Canadian House of Commons - reflecting the will of the vast majority of Canadians - opposed extending the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, in the battle between the Culture of Life and the culture of death, the homosexual lobby has discovered their greatest ally among an activist judiciary.

Fr. Alphonse de Valk is the founder and publisher of Catholic Insight. Not to be confused with the schismatic traditionalist sympathetic website with the same name, this monthly magazine chronicles the culture war in Canada from the Catholic moral perspective. Archived at one finds numerous responses to recent court cases where, in the name of sexual pluralism, judicial activism among the Canadian courts has seriously undermined the democratic process, religious freedom, and the Culture of Life. For example, Marc Hall attended a Catholic high-school in Oshawa, Ontario. Marc invited his boyfriend to the prom. In keeping with the traditional principles of Catholic moral theology, the Catholic school board prohibited Hall from bringing the boyfriend to the graduation dance. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion came to naught as the civil courts ruled that the Catholic school had discriminated against the rights of Marc Hall.

On June 15th, 2001, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Board of Inquiry fined Hugh Owens, an evangelical Protestant, and the Saskatoon Star Phoenix $1500 for violating the equality rights of three gay men. Mr. Owen's crime? He expressed his opinion on gay and lesbians sex through an advertisement in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. This advertisement consisted of a pictograph of two men holding hands superimposed with a circle and slash- the symbol of something forbidden-and a list of Bible verses condemning the practice of homosexuality. While Mr. Owens is currently appealing this ruling, if he loses and still refuses to comply with the Board of Inquiry, he will potentially find himself charged with contempt of court. If convicted, he will likely find himself consigned to jail as the first prisoner of conscience in the war between sexual plurism and religious plurism.

Yet such cases are not confined to the Province of Saskatchewan, which is currently governed by the New Democrat Party (NDP) - Canada's main socialist party. Over in Ontario, where the Progressive Conservative Party is in power, Scott Brockie is the conscientious born-again Christian owner of a Toronto print shop. After refusing a request from gay rights activist Ray Brilliger to print material for the Canadian Lesbians and Gay Archives, Mr. Brockie found himself hauled before the Ontario Human Rights Board of Inquiry - the Ontario counterpart to the Saskatchewan board that had fined Hugh Owens $1500.

One would think that a quasi-judicial apparatus operating under the aegis of a conservative government would be more sensitive to judicial encroachment on religious freedom than its counterpart operating under a socialist government. But such is not the case in Canada. Thus the Ontario Human Rights Board of Inquiry ordered Mr. Brockie to pay $5.000 in damages to Ray Brilliger. While Heather McNaughton, the adjudicator assigned to this case, acknowledged the sincerity of Mr. Brockie's religious convictions in her ruling dated February 24th, 2000, she nevertheless stated: "In fact nothing in my order will prevent Brockie from continuing to hold and practice his religious beliefs. Brockie remains free to hold his religious beliefs and to practice them in his Christian community." While Mr. Brockie is also appealing this ruling, it is not inconceivable that he too may find himself joining Mr. Owens as a prisoner of conscience in Canada's culture war.

As Canada moves to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation, these aforementioned examples of the Canadian judiciary suppressing the right to act upon one's religious conviction now loom in the mind of every Canadian religious and social conservative. Again, Catholic Insight finds itself raising a number of troubling questions at the forefront of the debate. When asked about his stance on same-sex marriage, the Canadian Prime Minister reportedly replied: "It is religion that is the problem." And while the Prime Minister has subsequently reassured religious entities in Canada that they will be exempt under proposed federal legislation recognizing same-sex marriage, the question remains "for how long?"

As the aforementioned cases show, Canada's current judicial culture basically upholds a doctrine of religious freedom in which an individual possesses the right to believe what he wants, so long as this belief is never communicated in public or put into practice. Additionally, when for all practical purposes the law is legislated by activist courts rather than elected members of parliament, how much confidence can religious and social conservatives place in the word of our highest elected official? Especially when Canadians are notoriously complacent when it comes to politics. Can religious and social conservatives seriously trust a Prime Minister whose entire political legacy intertwined with his failure to hold judges to their traditional role as arbiters of law rather than as makers of law?

And what about similar guarantees with regards to Bill C-250? For our American audience, Bill C-250 is a private member's bill introduced before Canada's House of Commons by Svend Robinson. Besides being an elected representative of Canada's socialist NDP, Mr. Robinson has the dubious distinction among social and religious conservatives of being Canada's first openly homosexual Member of Parliament. According to an official press release on Mr. Robinson's government website, the purpose of Bill C-250 is, "to include 'sexual orientation' in the hate propaganda sections of the Criminal Code of Canada."

While most private member's bills in Canada ultimately die, having already passed two readings, Bill C-250 looks to be the exception. Nevertheless, Mr. Robinson is not taking any chances. In an urgent call-to-action to his constituency - the text of which is also available on his website - Mr. Robinson warns: "WE ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING THIS BILL because of the flood of e-mails and letters coming in to MPs from those who oppose the bill, mainly from the religious right. As well, Canadian Alliance MPs (who have voted against every bill that has ever come before the House to extend equality to gays and lesbians) are fanning the flames with outrageous attacks on the bill. They claim that the bill would make religious texts like the Bible illegal. This is absolutely false: both the Charter of Rights and the Criminal Code already protect freedom of religious expression." As both Mr. Owens and Mr. Brockie discovered, the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Criminal Code of Canada certainly did not protect their freedom of religious expression.

Yet beyond the political consequences of an activist judiciary usurping the legislative role of parliament, lay some troubling moral questions raised by social and religious conservatives in Canada. Returning to the subject of same-sex marriage, despite our efforts, it does not matter whether we seek to change man's image. The image of man has already been set. We cannot change it. If our Canadian judiciary attempts to do so, we cannot but anticipate the disintegration and degeneration of Canada - both as a culture and as a nation. And this is a sober reminder to our social engineers who spare not a moment in cheaply wrapping themselves in the Maple Leaf.

Marriage and its natural extension, the traditional family, provide the very reason why the government exists. As this foundation comes under attack and begins to disintegrate, the social consequences will play out within our political institutions. In terms of the Canadian experience, if marriage is just another relationship between two individuals that can be contracted and broken at will, then what makes us foolishly think that our country will stay together when our marriages cannot? And if we tell ourselves, contrary to the Natural Law Tradition of our Judeo-Christians roots, that abortion is a "noble choice", then how can we continue to naively believe that our whole federation cannot be dismembered alongside our children in the womb?

And if we can tell ourselves that a man can marry a man, why could he not marry two men or three? Or why could he not marry his son or nephew when the latter comes of age? Or will age continue to matter? In a culture where virginity is ridiculed and pregnancy is so easily disposed of, it is simply a matter of time before so-called "inter-generational sex" - that which polite cultures and moral societies use to condemn as incest - is pronounced a right between a parent and their consenting child.

As shocking as it sounds to us today, such a putative right would be consistent with a Canada that currently affords little legal protection to children in the womb. It is consistent with a judiciary that undermines and legally manipulates marriage. We Canadians have turned our backs on the Judeo-Christian heritage that built this great nation, and if history is consistent, God will punish our society by granting us our request. In short, Canada will become the sexually hedonistic nation to which she aspires, and it will mark the death and annihilation of Canadian democracy as the judiciary asserts its new role as the arbiters of the pan-sexualist agenda - over and above the democratic will of the people along with other individual civil liberties. For our current Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, seems intent upon finishing the sexual-political revolution begun by his predecessor Pierre Trudeau.

Pete Vere and John Pacheco
The Catholic Legate
January 5, 2004

This article originally appeared in the November, 2003 issue of Culture Wars.