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Second go-round for the Omnibus Bill

The Story


The question of whether or not crime and immorality should be joined together in the Criminal Code comes to the forefront. The House of Commons debates the amendments relating to abortion and homosexuality. John Turner explains in this CBC Radio clip "there are areas of private behaviour, however repugnant and immoral, if they do not directly involve public order, should not properly be within the criminal law of Canada." Former prime minister John Diefenbaker disagrees, saying the bill "undermines the whole concept of a family as a unit". He adds: "The whole record of history has been nations that followed this course of gradually removing and debasing basic principles of life have not stood long." NDP leader David Lewis labels Diefenbaker's comments as "nonsensical exaggeration" and says "the compassion of society should prevent us from labelling homosexuals as criminals."

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning Magazine
Broadcast Date: April 20, 1969
Guest(s): Réal Caouette, John Diefenbaker, David Lewis, John Turner
Host: Bill Paul, Bruce Rogers
Duration: 7:09
Photo: National Archives of Canada (PA-046363)

Did You know?


• John Turner took over as justice minister and inherited Trudeau's Omnibus Bill (known as Bill C-150) after it died on the floor of the House of Commons. Turner officially reintroduced the bill on Dec. 19, 1968, after the recall of Parliament on Sept. 12.

• Turner's Omnibus Bill introduced the first major reform to divorce laws in Canada since Confederation. Previously, the law required a private bill to be introduced in the House of Commons, coupled with a parliamentary committee investigation. Divorce applicants had to obtain a private investigator's report establishing adultery before their bill proceeded through Parliament.

• When Trudeau retired in 1984, Turner was elected the leader of the Liberals and became Canada's new prime minister on June 30. Turner called a general election for Sept. 4, but Brian Mulroney swept into office as the new prime minister, as the Tories took 211 seats in the House, forming a majority government. Turner became the leader of the official Opposition, a position he held until he retired from politics in 1990.


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