New Brunswick

Elsie Wayne joins traditional marriage crusade

Former Saint John MP Elsie Wayne is supporting a new campaign opposing same-sex marriage.

Former Saint John MP Elsie Wayne is supporting a new campaign opposing same-sex marriage.

Wayne, 72, was named the Atlantic regional chair of a group called Vote Marriage Canada on Tuesday. The group is endorsing federal election candidates who pledge to restore the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"There is so much going on in the wrong direction in this country," said Wayne, who also served as deputy leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party before resigning from politics in 2004. "That's why we're here. It is time for a group who believe in good moral Christian values to stand up and speak out and get things turned around."

Wayne is well-known for her strong views against same-sex marriage, abortion and the decriminalization of marijuana. In 2003, Wayne stood in House of Commons and said gay Canadians should "shut up" about their desire for a federally-sanctioned marriage.

"Why do they have to be out here in the public, always debating that they want to call it marriage? Why are they in parades? Why are men dressed up as women on floats?" she asked parliamentarians in the spring of 2003.

Wayne's comments shocked some MPs and even members of her own party. Former Tory MP Scott Brison, now a Liberal, called for her resignation.

Wayne applauded Conservative leader Stephen Harper for pledging on the first day of the campaign to hold a free vote on the issue if he becomes prime minister following the Jan. 23 election.

Former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien is also part of the campaign urging voters to elect candidates who support revisiting the issue in Parliament after the federal election.

O'Brien says despite the court rulings and the legislation, the issue of same-sex marriage is still not settled among the people of Canada. "Candidates going door to door in these ridings know it's an issue because they're hearing it from the voters across the country and we've been in every region of Canada, people are concerned, they're glad to hear there's an option somehow to revisit this."

Liberal Leader Paul Martin insists that the issue of same-sex marriage is a matter of human rights, as set out by the courts. He says the federal government would need to invoke the notwithstanding clause to revoke the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and take away the right to marry from gays and lesbians.

Earlier in the campaign, Martin urged Harper to clarify his party's position on the matter, and say whether the Conservative Party is willing to use the notwithstanding clause to override the Charter.