A non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting family and traditional marriage in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario has already been making big political impacts, despite having been in existence for only a short period of time.
Defend Traditional Family and Marriage grew out of a merger between two smaller groups that had been attempting to preserve the traditional definition of marriage before the passage of Bill C-38, which legalized same-sex “marriage.” The first group was founded by Rev. Royal Hamel and the second by Jack Fonseca, who now serves as communications director. In April 2005, an organizational meeting for the new Defend Traditional Family and Marriage was held and from that, leaders came forth to oversee political efforts in each federal riding in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Riding groups went about staging meetings, rallies and seminars, with a goal to defeating Bill C-38. Despite the eventual lack of success in defeating that bill, the organization continued onward, growing its support list, holding regular meetings with special guests and setting its sights on the January 2006 election to elect pro-family, pro-marriage candidates in Kitchener-Waterloo.
“We feel we had a significant impact,” said Fonseca in a recent interview with The Interim. “We had a lot of support from local churches, Catholic and Protestant. We raised money through fundraising efforts, one of the main ones being a meeting with (former Liberal MP) Pat O’Brien last November … We had a lot of media attention. Our message got out to a lot of people.”
The effectiveness of Defend Traditional Family and Marriage was illustrated when its endorsed candidate in the Kitchener Conestoga riding, Conservative Harold Albrecht, defeated pro-same-sex “marriage” Liberal Lynn Meyers. He did so by garnering 5,700 more votes than the Conservative candidate had received in the previous federal election.
“We believe we had a significant impact in getting out Christian voters who don’t normally vote,” said Fonseca.
In Cambridge, pro-family Conservative Gary Goodyear increased his margin of victory versus the 2004 election from scarcely 224 votes to a healthy 6,100. Fonseca credits a pastors’ luncheon and bulletin-insert campaign held just prior to the election with playing a key role in that positive result.
Although Defend Traditional Family and Marriage was unsuccessful in getting its candidate in Kitchener Centre, Conservative Steven Cage, elected, it did manage to shave the margin of victory for Liberal Lynn Meyers down from almost 9,000 votes in 2004 to about 5,500 this year.
“Steven Cage had 3,700 new voters come out for him,” said Fonseca. “We see ourselves as having had an effect in bringing out voters who don’t normally vote. This (marriage) issue was something that made them passionate.”
Encouraged by its successes in this year’s federal election, Defend Traditional Family and Marriage is moving toward the future with a continuation of regular meetings the second Thursday of every month. “Beyond the immediate goal of repealing Bill C-38 and reinstating the proper definition of marriage, we have a longer-term goal of developing a core and organizational infrastructure that will influence local politics in the future elections – municipal, school board, nomination meetings even,” said Fonseca. “By maintaining a network of people of faith and goodwill who care about family values, we plan to be a long-term political force.”
One step toward that will be a Spring Into Action Fundraising Dinner on April 21 at the Holiday Inn on Fairway Road South in Kitchener with the Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Fred Henry, who distinguished himself with outspoken defences of traditional marriage during the public debates over Bill C-38. Henry has been the target of two human rights complaints over his stand and has had his church’s charitable tax status threatened by Revenue Canada.
Conseca said Henry will explore the theme of why Christians need to respond in defence of traditional marriage. He will likely do this not just from a religious perspective, but by using natural law and common sense arguments as well. Defend Traditional Family and Marriage’s June meeting is scheduled to have as a speaker a representative of Exodus International, the largest Christian referral and information ministry dealing with homosexual issues in the world today.
Those interested in more information on Defend Traditional Family and Marriage, or in obtaining tickets for the dinner with Bishop Henry, can write to: 420 Erb St. West #5, Box 344, Waterloo, Ont., N2L 6K6, call: (519) 740-5256 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The organization has a website at www.defendmarriagekw.org.