A hot issue on the campaign trail is same-sex “marriage.” Although ostensibly a federal issue, dozens of candidates have reported to The Interim that they are being queried on their position regarding the legal recognition of homosexual relationships. One Liberal candidate challenging a Progressive Conservative incumbent in southwestern Ontario told The Interim that most people he talks to when out on the campaign trail or knocking on doors recognize that this is a federal issue, but want to talk about it anyway. One resident told the candidate, “I just want to know we share the same values.” A Toronto Conservative candidate in a very liberal riding said that the voters she talks to respect and appreciate her defence of the traditional definition of marriage.
The media focus on the leaders. On same-sex “marriage,” there is more division among the candidates than on abortion. Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty has also come out in favour of same-sex “marriage,” a position that violates McGuinty’s professed Catholic faith and betrays the views of many ethnic supporters of the Liberal party. Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes told The Interim that Liberal candidates may want to carefully consider blindly following their leader if they have large ethnic communities within their ridings that generally still hold dear to traditional values.
McGuinty, in fact, says that his support of same-sex “marriage” makes him “conservative” and is thus trying to convince these communities that his position is not as subversive of the family as it really is. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Liberal leader said, “Terri (his wife) and I have the most small-c conservative relationship going – high school sweethearts, dated for eight years, had four kids in five years, married now 23 years and we are hopelessly in love … I don’t feel threatened or offended in any way at all if a gay or lesbian couple chose to marry and I don’t see how it’s threatening to the future of my children either.”
In 1999, McGuinty strongly suggested that all Liberal candidates support expanding homosexual rights. A year earlier, McGuinty’s press secretary, Duncan Fulton, told The Interim, “Dalton is committed to same-sex rights.”
McGuinty’s move may have been an attempt to separate himself from Ernie Eves, who flip-flopped on the issue late this summer. Eves, who in 2002 said he had no problem with the legal recognition of homosexual relationships (“My point of view on this issue is that if two people decide that they want to be in a union, why would I interfere with that? That’s my personal point of view”), said in August that he personally opposed same-sex “marriage,” although he wouldn’t do anything about it. Eves used the standard socially liberal cop-out, “I don’t think that I have the right to impose my values on other individuals. That’s just a personal belief of mine.”
Family Coalition Party leader Giuseppe Gori said the Eves flip-flop is crass political opportunism because his words are not backed up by action. “Despite his new-found faith in traditional marriage, the Conservative party has no intention of doing anything to protect marriage. They have absolutely no intention of appealing the homosexual ‘marriage’ decision, or using the notwithstanding clause.” Gori also noted that the Conservative party changed 68 pieces of legislation to benefit homosexual couples in 1999.
Gori said that the FCP is the only party committed to protecting marriage. “The FCP would like to stop judicial activism by any means possible, which include appealing the ‘marriage’ decision and using the notwithstanding clause, if necessary.”
NDP Leader Howard Hampton has repeated his party’s stance in support of homosexual “marriage.”
Mary Ellen Douglas, president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario, told The Interim that the issue of same-sex “marriage” is very important, but it is vital that pro-life voters consider support for abortion a disqualifying issue for candidates. “The homosexual issue is important, but it is not the same as killing babies,” said Douglas. “If pro-life supporters vote for someone who opposes same-sex ‘marriage’ but is pro-abortion, all the work pro-lifers have done in the political arena will go out the window.”