CBC In Depth
Where the parties stand
CBC News Online | Updated June 28, 2005

Canada's political parties have their official positions on the issue of same-sex marriage, but within each party, members are breaking from the party line.

Here's a look at the parties' positions, what their leaders have said, and what dissenters within the party are saying.

The Liberals say...

Paul Martin
(CP Photo/Fred Chartrand)

"Put simply, we must always remember that separate but equal is not equal."
– Paul Martin, Feb. 16, 2005.

Real Audio runs 24:47

Text: Martin's speech
CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external sites. Links will open in new window.

"Respecting our diversity includes ensuring we respect basic human rights for all, including gays and lesbians. To that end, we have referred legislation outlining a progressive stance on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court of Canada for its opinion on whether the proposed legislation respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will not invoke the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter to deny equal rights, nor will we obligate religious institutions to conduct marriage ceremonies that contravene their own beliefs and practices." - party platform

"It doesn't seem to have troubled Mr. Harper about any other votes in the past in which he's asked for and voted together with the Bloc, so why should this suddenly be an issue about legitimacy?" - Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, June 27, 2005

Their leader says:

"Canada is a nation of minorities, and we cannot take away the Charter of Rights. It is so fundamental." - Paul Martin, June 23, 2004.

Dissenting voices:

"I'm not going to say publicly what I'm going to do. I first owe it to the church leaders to meet with them and then I owe it to the prime minister to meet with him before I make any public statement.'' - Natural Resources Minister John Efford, Dec. 13, 2004.

"If you're going to throw open the definition of marriage so you destroy it in essence, how do you know you can ever draw the line any place? If I want two or three wives and want that considered legal marriage, who are you to tell me I can't do that?" - Ontario MP Pat O'Brien, May 10, 2003.

The Conservatives say...

Stephen Harper
(CP Photo/Fred Chartrand)

"Fundamental human rights are not a magician's hat from which new rabbits can constantly be pulled... Same-sex marriage is not a human right."
– Stephen Harper, Feb. 16, 2005.

Real Audio runs 53:05

"The Conservative party will fight to give a greater voice to Parliament. We will ensure that issues like marriage are decided by Parliament, not the courts." - Party website.

"Paul Martin wants to impose same-sex marriage. Stephen Harper believes in traditional marriage. We'd like to know where you stand." - party ads run in ethnic newspapers across Canada in January 2005.

What their leader says:

"It's a question for Parliament to decide: Does it want the traditional definition of marriage, or does it want to change that definition?" - Stephen Harper, Dec. 16, 2004.

"I've taken a position with the backing of the majority of caucus and party members. I fully expect that any member of the party who disagrees with that position will become a media star." - Stephen Harper, Jan. 24, 2005.

"Because it's being passed with the support of the Bloc, I think it will lack legitimacy with most Canadians." - Stephen Harper, June 27, 2005.

Dissenting voices:

"I'm in support of same-sex marriage. I respect the right of churches to do what they believe is right according to their principles." - Ontario MP Belinda Stronach, Dec. 5, 2004.

The NDP says...

"Canada's NDP will respect equality by � recognizing the equality of loving adult partnerships by extending civil marriage equality to same-sex couples, while respecting each religion's right to determine its own definition of marriage." - party platform.

Its leader says:

"Our party has taken a very firm stand. We think it's a question of human rights. Everyone should be able to marry. There shouldn't be second-class status." - Jack Layton, June 6, 2004.

Dissenting voices:

"I have my view as to how I see marriage, as we've known it over the years, and how I believe a good number of Canadians see the definition of marriage or see marriage." - Manitoba MP Bev Desjarlais, Sept. 4, 2003.

"I believe as an elected representative, there are issues that people want to see you vote on one way or the other." - Manitoba MP Bev Desjarlais, Jan. 26, 2005.

The Bloc's leader says...

"The Bloc's mandate is every bit as legitimate as any member who sits in this chamber. That's what they call democracy." - Gilles Duceppe, June 27, 2005



CBC Archives: Gay and Lesbian Emergence: Out in Canada

NFO CFgroup 2003 poll: Same–sex marriage (pdf format)

Forever and Always, from CBC TV's The National

CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external sites. Links will open in new window.

Address by Prime Minister Paul Martin on Bill C-38 (The Civil Marriage Act)

Background on the Civil Marriage Act from the Department of Justice

Equal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Marriage Canada

Defend Marriage Canada

Sanctity of Marriage

Canadianlawsite.com: divorce

EGALE Canada

Canadians for Equal Marriage

Print this page

Send a comment

Indepth Index