This past Victoria Day Monday, a crowd of 9,000 traditional marriage supporters converged on Queen’s Park for what turned out to be a powerful and lively demonstration of the desire of Canadians of every age, race and creed to protect the institution of marriage.
Begun under the threat of rain, the ominous cloud-covering soon lifted, and the summer sun shone brightly on an enthusiastic crowd, waving hundreds of signs proclaiming, “Defend Marriage.” Speaker Rev. Dominic Tse of the Chinese Christian community parallelled the weather to the black cloud hanging over the legislature, saying, “A big, dark cloud was up there as well. Now it’s gone! The wind blew it away! It’s the wind of the Holy Spirit! With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can blow it away. And let the light of the sun of truth and love shine forth in Canada!”
The rally was organized by the Equipping Christians for the Public-Square Centre (ECP), along with the Knights of Columbus and several others, in order to combat same-sex marriage Bill C-38, which is currently before Parliament. Coming as it did several days after the failure of the Conservative party’s non-confidence vote in the House, attendees and speakers at the rally were deeply aware of the dire political situation and responded with appropriate enthusiasm.
Youth made up a substantial portion of the crowd. Pro-life musician David MacDonald, accompanied by his band, lent the rally the air of an outdoor concert, with the whole crowd singing along to his appropriately titled song, “One Man, One Woman.”
A stellar roster of speakers, including many MPs and leaders of nearly every faith and creed, often times eloquent and always courageous in their unapologetic proclamation of the truth, encouraged the crowd time and again to take action against the injustice of government-sanctioned gay “marriage.” Masood Khan, of the United Front for Pakistani Canadians, made no bones about the matter, shouting to the cheering crowd: “On behalf of over one million Muslims in Canada, I can assure you we will not accept this crap!”
Christian faith leaders who spoke to the gathered crowd included Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes, Ontario Knights of Columbus life and family values chairman Dan Heffernan, Anglican Tony Copples, Janet Epp Buckingham of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Dr. Graham Scott of the St. Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Mission Station in St. Catharines, Ont., Toronto Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Yuriy Kalishchuk and Coptic Orthodox priest Fr. Rueiss Awad, among others. Non-Christian faiths were also well represented by Jewish Rabbi Mendel Kaplan and Muslims Imam Suleiman Yacoob and Masood Khan, among others.
One theme that recurred throughout the speeches was voiced by many of the representatives of ethnic minorities, who argued that their voices were not being heard in the marriage debate. “Our government does not respect true multiculturalism,” complained Tse. “Last Wednesday, when I was in a committee for Bill C-38, making a presentation, I found myself the only ethnic minority in the entire room and possibly the only minority in the entire process!” As boos and hisses issued from the crowd, Tse continued, “For Chinese Canadians, marriage belong to us, has been for thousands of years and will be for thousands of years. True multiculturalism is a respect for all communities. Respect our marriage! It’s our marriage!”
Many of the speakers, including representatives of non-Christian faiths, sent out challenges to Prime Minister Paul Martin to live up to his professed Catholic faith. Rabbi Mendel Kaplan came out strongly, saying “Today, I ask the prime minister, when he placed his hand on the Bible and he swore and took an oath to protect Canadian values in our society, what was he thinking? In whose Bible does he place his faith and trust, if not in the Bible and ineffable word of the almighty? My friends, that very same Bible makes it very clear in the convention of marriage … ‘therefore, a man may leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’”
Muslim Imam Suleiman Yacoob asked the prime minister: “So, again to Paul Martin – what brand of Catholicism is he practising?” Roman Catholic bishop Pearse Lacey complained to the crowd, saying “What galls me … what galls me so much is that the prime minister and so many of them can claim to be Christians.”
Rally organizer, Presbyterian Minister Rev. Tristan Emmanuel, continued this theme in his closing remarks, appealing to what the mainstream media has labelled Martin’s “devout Catholic faith,” as well as his self-professed respect for the late Pope John Paul II.“Mr. Martin,” Emmanuel said, closing off the immensely successful rally, “if you really, truly respect Pope John Paul II, then I can think of no better way that you can pay your last respects to this man than to follow his instructions and withdraw Bill C-38!”