Martinizing Marriage: Using the Supreme Court of Canada as a tool for election. (Illustration courtesy of Max Licht)

 

 

"Mr. Martin can paint the expanded reference any way he wishes, but the tactic smells of wavering and stalling ... It smacks of a politician looking for an exit, and an excuse not to take a stand."
Globe and Mail, Jan. 30, 2004

 

 

"Paul Martin wants to evade the issue of gay marriage because he's afraid of the impact on his support at the ballot box,To satisfy his thirst for power ... it shows how low they are willing to go to get elected ..."
the Bloc Québécois Justice Critic Richard Marceau, Jan. 28, 2004

Read Bloc Québécois
Jan. 28 communication:

In English
En Francais

 

 

Prodding Paul Martin towards same-sex marriage - Canada's new Prime Minister

 

 

The Prime Minister
The Rt. Honourable Paul Martin
80 Wellington Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: pm@pm.gc.ca

 

 

Irwin Cotler: A legal lapdog fetches an excuse to delay justice as part of the strategy for an upcoming Liberal election campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

No more appeals:  Paul Martin has lowered the bar to same-sex marriage by saying the final hurdle shoud be the upcoming decision from the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

 

 

 

Summaries from
the Court of Appeal for Ontario:

 

 

 

SELECT to Listen to "Liberal Leadership & Same-Sex Marriages" from CBC Radio One's  The Current (host Jim Brown)
Listen to a recording of this program

 

 

 

SELECT to read "The beginning of the end of discrimination"  Will the Liberals finally enable same-sex marriage?

 

 

 

The Prime Minister's legacy is linked to same-sex marriage.   As the sun sets on his political career will he seize the golden opportunity? (Photo of  Jean Chretien courtesy of the Office of the Prime Minister)

 

 

 

 

 

Paul's Martinizing - Canada's next P.M. wants the Supreme Court of Canada to do his job for him (Illustration courtesy of Max Licht)
Paul's Martinizing
Taking human rights to the cleaners
Canada's next Prime Minister wants the Supreme Court of Canada
to do his job for him
(illustration courtesy of Max Licht)

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"Mr. Martin is "wrestling with" the issues as he believes "a great number of Canadians" are. So much for leadership."
Jorge Angeles, Letter to the Editor, The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2003

 

 


I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again No, no!
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who
Lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. All lyrics provided for educational purposes only.

 

 

 

"Paul Martin's considered opinion on same-sex marriages is that "he would not appeal any court decision." This sounds like abdication. If Mr. Martin wants the leadership, he must be prepared to lead. While our judges usually do an admirable job, it is our politicians whom we elect to make decisions about the right, rather than the merely legal, thing to do."
Michael Blue, Letter to the Editor, The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Martin's Parliament Hill Office Contact Information:
Room 458 Confederation Building House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-992-4284
Fax: 613-992-4291
Martin.P@parl.gc.ca

Paul Martin's campaign email:
paul@paulmartin.ca

 

 

 

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Legal Canada

January 28, 2004 (updated Jan.30)

Martinizing Marriage - Part II
Using the Supreme Court as a tool for election

"Insiders say that at a recent meeting of the Liberal caucus, David Herle, co-chair of the national campaign and an influential Martin insider, told MPs that the same-sex issue had to be "punted" before the next election."
The Globe and Mail, Jan. 29, 2004

"As for Cotler, his was the kind of acrobatic feat that was almost too painful to watch ... By adding a question to the three the justice department had originally asked, the minister has ensured that the case that had been slated to be heard in April — potentially in the middle of an election campaign — will now be pushed off to the fall, with no ruling until sometime in 2005."
Toronto Star, Jan. 29, 2004


Last April we wrote about Prime Minster Paul Martin's desire to hide behind the Supreme Court of Canada where he hoped that the judges would make the difficult decision to honour our Charter rights, rather than own up to that responsibility himself. Our leader is taking marriage to the cleaners, to remove the stain of discrimination, rather than doing the job himself as a matter of responsibility and leadership.

Under constant questioning by the media, Martin eventually lowered the bar to equal marriage in May 2003 when he said that if the Ontario Court of Appeal "determined that this is a matter of rights ... Parliament should act."

The Ontario Court of Appeal couldn't have been clearer when they opened the door to same-sex marriage on June 10. British Columbia followed soon after (and many expect Quebec to do the same with an appeal now underway in that province).

But now that Martin is planning an election this spring, he has reverted to his earlier strategy of using the Supreme Court of Canada as a political tool to deflect and defer his If you think a Prime Minister should be proud to fly our flag, you're not alone.responsibilities. Martin is fond of shell games (many criticize the millionaire PM because of his shipping line's tactic of putting foreign flags on his ships in order to avoid paying Canadian taxes, meanwhile his company grabbed $161 million from government dealings in the past 11 years).

The Prime Minister, and his all-too-willing Justice Minister (Irwin Cotler has destroyed his own reputation in record speed), have introduced a new question into the Supreme Court of Canada reference: an inquiry on whether the traditional definition of marriage violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It's a question that has been asked and answered by four courts in Canada's three most populous provinces. No one doubts the answer, even the two procrastinators who ask it. It's the delay caused by asking the question that is important to this Liberal government, not the answer.

"Paul Martin wants to evade the issue of gay marriage because he's afraid of the impact on his support at the ballot box," the Bloc Québécois Justice Critic Richard Marceau said today. "To satisfy his thirst for power ... it shows how low they are willing to go to get elected ..."

The Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament also pointed out "that the enlargement of the reference to the Supreme Court is not only a 180-degree turn from the Liberal government's promise not to appeal the decisions of the Ontario and British Columbia appeal courts and the ruling by the Québec Superior Court, but also constitutes in itself a disguised appeal that will have serious repercussions all over Canada."

Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party, is willing to leave 50% of the Canadian population in provinces and territories External link to Paul Martin Timewithout full and equal access to marriage. Maybe Martin should take the Canadian flag off his party logo too, if he isn't willing to live by the Charter his party gave us. In essence, he is willing to trade human rights for votes.

It was ironic to hear the Prime Minister speak of duty today in a live press conference. He was asked to respond to the concerns of a mother who was on national TV yesterday, questioning why her son, a Canadian soldier, had been sent to his death in Afghanistan.

"Responsibilities have to be discharged," the Prime Minister said.

Martin apparently finds it easier to assign others with "responsibilities" that have the ultimate cost, rather than accept one for himself with merely the potential of political cost. The Prime Minister discharges something else altogether, at a great expense to us all.


May 28, 2003

"No more appeals"
Paul Martin lowers the bar to equal marriage

Canada's prime-minister-in-waiting, Paul Martin, has changed cleaners. Instead of looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the rights and freedoms of the Canadian Charter (see our report dated April 30, below), Martin has taken a step in the right direction by saying he will defer to the Court of Appeal for Ontario if it orders a clean-up of marriage discrimination.

A statement released yesterday by Egale Canada included Martin's remarks amongst the "statements of support" that have come from the other Liberal leadership candidates:

"Recently the Court of Appeal of British Columbia has found that legislation which reserves the rights and obligations of marriage only for opposite-sex couples fails to recognize fundamental equality rights. This decision was consistent with the findings of lower courts in Ontario and Quebec. The Ontario decision has been appealed to the Court of Appeal, which has already heard arguments and is currently writing its judgment.

If that lower court decision is upheld, with the result that Courts of Appeal have clearly determined that this is a matter of rights, then, subject to further guidance on any remaining legal issues that will come with the Ontario court's judgment, Parliament should act.

That means no more appeals.

That means, as the courts have suggested, legislating change and with the benefit of the recommendations from the Parliamentary Committee that has been studying the matter in detail.

Any legislation should affirm that no church, synagogue, mosque or religious institution can be forced to act outside its faith."

Martin's fellow leadership hopefuls, John Manley and Sheila Copps, have been unreserved in their support for a legislative change to marriage. Other cabinet Liberals (Allan Rock and Bill Graham) have also given unqualified support for equal marriage. Martin has always lagged behind, so his new stance is seen as a watershed moment compared to his earlier positions.

Ontario led the way with its landmark decision in favour of equal marriage on July 12, 2002, establishing a deadline for the government to end discrimination by July 12, 2004. Quebec court followed soon after, maintaining the same deadline, and finally, after an unsuccessful first round in lower court. British Columbia fell into line in a decision made by an appeal court earlier this month.

A decision from the Court of Appeal for Ontario is expected soon. Meanwhile, the Quebec victory for equal marriage is scheduled to be challenged by the federal Liberals in that province's court of appeal on September 25 and 26, 2003.

A position paper from the Liberal caucus has already made it clear that marriage discrimination against gays and lesbians must end. The punch-drunk Liberals will continue to lose rounds in court as long as they're fighting from the corner of discrimination.

We are very optimistic about the outcome from the Court of Appeal for Ontario, so it seems that Martin will spare us a trip to the Supreme Court of Canada. Although Prime Minister Chretien will still be in office when Ottawa has to decide whether to seek leave to appeal the Ontario court decision, it will be Chretien's successor, likely Martin, who will make the decision about whether to proceed with the appeal.

Thanks to Martin, the future direction is now clear. Subject to a surprise defeat in the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Prime Minister Chretien should have the courage and grace to do the right thing and leave with a legacy burnished by respect for human rights and the Charter he helped create.


April 30, 2003 (updated May 1, 2003)

Paul's Martinizing
Taking human rights to the cleaners
The next P.M. wants the Supreme Court to do his job

Paul Martin isn't ready to have Ottawa endorse same-sex marriages unless so ordered by the courts ... Mr. Martin said he is still undecided on the issue of whether Ottawa should expand the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples ... He initially dodged the question when asked what reservations he had about same-sex marriages. He then suggested that the traditional definition of marriage has a long and cherished history and that the issue is an emotional one that deeply divides the country.
The Globe and Mail, April 28, 2003

The politician most likely to be Canada's next Prime Minister seems ready to do exactly what the current Prime Minister has done in respect to human rights for gays and lesbians: nothing. Liberal Paul Martin has all but been crowned as his political party's heir to Jean Chrétien. In the past, the Liberal party has reluctantly extended rights to gays and lesbian piece-meal, and only when the courts have ordered them to clean up their legislation to remove acts of discrimination. They are fighting still, refusing to honour the Canadian Charter by denying gays and lesbians the right to marry.

Paul Martin is fond of using the word "proactive", but from this politician's mouth, it's has as much credibility as someone who repeatedly says "to tell the truth". Mr. Martin has been hiding from addressing the issue of same-sex marriage ever since July 12, 2002 when Ontario divisional court said that the common-law definition of marriage ("one man and one woman") discriminated against us. They gave the government two years to fix the problem. Martin has spent much of the first year avoiding the issue, but last weekend, he finally was smoked out by the media and was compelled to answer questions on the issue.

"Only the Liberal Party of Canada could simultaneously paint itself as home of the only meaningful political debate in the country, and yet prepare to coronate Paul Martin." NDP leader Jack Layton wrote in yesterday's National Post. "The contradiction was clearest as I watched the next prime minister pretzel himself over the simple question of whether he supported same-sex marriage. Fortunately for Mr. Martin, options are available to provide refuge from outlining what most would consider to be a fundamental test of leadership, namely taking a position. But on the question of same-sex marriages, Mr. Martin prefers to wait for the courts to fill the void created by the spineless."

It's been a long-standing tactic in the Liberal party. Hiding behind the robes of the judges allows the Liberals to minimize accountability to those voters who wish to maintain discrimination. Judges get blamed for being "activists" when in fact they are doing their job, unlike our "proactive" politicians who are willing to sell our rights down the river for the sake of expediency and deniability.

"I believe fundamentally that governments cannot discriminate on a question of rights," Paul Martin said (The Globe and Mail, Apr. 29, 2003). "But what we are dealing with here is a very long tradition, a tradition that goes back well before the common law, on which opinion in Canada is very badly divided. And I think that on these kinds of matters . . . you've got to be prepared to hear out both sides."

When interracial marriage was before the courts in the U.S. (Loving v. Virgina), no one suggested asking the folks in Virgina what they thought about miscegenation. Similarly, no one asked people in Kansas what they thought about blacks entering their white-only schools (Brown v. Board of Education) . Here is an example of the regressive result of such a dialogue:

"To redefine marriage to be more inclusive of homosexuality is to create a new morality in which homosexuality is not merely tolerated but is normalized and would branch out into sexual activity with babies, children of both sexes, and with animals."

Rita Curley, St-Ignatius Martyrs Council of the Catholic Women's League, Feb 11, 2003

There is more, much more that the Liberal party has encouraged through their traveling road show staged by the inappropriately named Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Paul Martin is prepared to take our human rights to the cleaners - the Supreme Court of Canada - rather than taking ownership for compliance with the Charter, in the absence of a court order. There is only one solution, and most people understand that. Only full and equal marriage will stand up to constitutional scrutiny, despite what the B.C. courts have to say (more on that later tomorrow when a decision on the B.C. marriage case is released).

While some may argue that a violation of our Charter equality protections (Section 15) is justified (Section 1), Martin has at least promised that in the alternative, he will respect the Supreme Court's decision, if they do the dirty work for him, and clean up the marriage mess.

"To the extent that this is a rights issue, if the Supreme Court upholds these rights I have made it very clear I will not use the notwithstanding clause [overriding the constitution]," he told the media on April 27, 2003.

And thus we'll have Paul's Matinizing of marriage. But who will clean the stain on the Liberal party's record of human rights?


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