March 4, 1986 was another red-letter day for Canada. Bowing to feminist and homosexual pressure, John Crosbie, the Federal Minister of Justice, accepted the key recommendation of the House of Commons Committee on Equality Rights that “sexual orientation” should be regarded “a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
Other recommendations included opening the ranks of the Armed Forces, the RCMP and all other federal services to homosexuals; the participation of women in combat roles; the removal of mandatory retirement at 65; and the automatic splitting of Canada Pension Plan benefits in divorces.
Many newspapers headlined the proposed retirement rules or the women in combat issue while reporting little on the sexual orientation dispute or burying it in back pages. But Crosbie’s support for the protection of “sexual orientation” puts the nation on notice that the PC government of Brian Mulroney now weeks equality for the homosexual way of life. Said Crosbie:
The Government recognizes that the issue of sexual orientation addresses some of the most difficult moral and religious concerns of Canadians. There is no simple manner of reconciling deeply felt views.
Though fully cognizant of the social dilemmas that the issue raises, the Government is committed to the principle that all Canadians have an equal opportunity to participate as fully as they can in our society; no one should be denied opportunities for reasons that are arbitrary or irrelevant. In particular, persons should not be excluded from employment opportunities for reasons that are irrelevant to their capacity and ability to do the job.
The Government believes that one’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to whether one can perform a job or use a service or facility. The Department of Justice is of the view that the courts will find that sexual orientation is encompassed by the guarantees in Section 15 of the Charter. The Government will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination in relation to all areas of federal jurisdiction.
Thus the PC government is accepting the views of Justice Department lawyers that homosexual activity will be recognized as legally equal to normal behaviour. It is now issuing instructions to see that this equality is brought about throughout the federal services.
Spokesmen for the homosexual community, somewhat strangely, professed disappointment at the government’s attitude. The Justice Minister, they said, had not adopted the exact wording of the Commons Committee. This committee, chaired by PC MP Patrick Boyer (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Toronto), had recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Act should be amended to add “sexual orientation” to all the other rights covered by the Act. While Crosbie did not refer explicitly to the Human Rights Act, nevertheless, he promised to take “whatever measures necessary” to ensure protection for sexual orientation. This would seem to indicate plans to legalize homosexuality and would seem to indicate plans to legalize homosexuality fully, after first accepting it in practice.
The Ottawa Citizen and The Toronto Star of March 5, both reported MP Alex Kindy (Calgary East) claiming that more than half the PC caucus was opposed to letting homosexuals in the armed forces and the RCMP. “Gay equality bill faces caucus fight,” read the Citizen’s front-page headline. But next day’s headline announced: “Tories deny split on gay equality.” The news article reported Crosbie as saying, after the caucus meeting of the previous day: “We have substantial support in the caucus for our response.”
Only a few PC MP’s were willing to talk to reporters. Even fewer seemed to understand what was at stake. One of those who did was Reginal Stackhouse (MP Scarborough-West) who told the Toronto Star: “To talk about sexual orientation (in the context of equality rights) implies that two kinds of sexuality are equally natural. I disagree with that implication because only heterosexuality is natural. The other (homosexuality) is an unnatural deviation.”