4 min

Excerpts from the Bill C-150 debates in the House of Commons

(Read more about Bill C-150: Trudeau’s ‘indelible imprint’)

First reading

Dec 19, 1968

Hon John N Turner, minister of justice, introduces Bill C-150 but makes no speech.

Second reading

Jan 23, 1969

Hon John N Turner: “Mr Speaker, in introducing this massive bill I am very sensitive of the solemn duty that I have to the law of this country and of the effect that this bill, if adopted by the house, will have on the individual lives and individual human rights of everyone in Canada.

I speak this afternoon with the confidence that this legislation is the most important and all-embracing reform of the criminal and penal law ever attempted at one time in this country. The omnibus measure contains matters of deep social significance which, in the course of time, will affect the lives of most of us, perhaps each one of us, in varying degrees.

I submit this bill to the scrutiny of this house, weighing as best I can the delicate balance between law and morals and the historic ideal of the rule of law in a free society.

In placing these matters before you, sir, the government is endeavouring to have the criminal law reflect the attitude of what most persons believe to be reasonable and necessary for the well-being of our society or, to put it in another way, to bring the law into line with the times….

These amendments remove certain sexual conduct between consenting adults in private from the purview of the criminal law. There is one point which I cannot emphasize too strongly in this regard. It is that parliament would not, in enacting these amendments, be condoning this type of conduct….”

Jan 24, 1969

Erik Nielsen (Yukon): “The basis of this legislation is the Prime Minister’s belief that homosexuals will behave like gentlemen…. [I]f homosexuals behaved like gentlemen they would not be homosexuals.”

Douglas A Hogarth (New Westminster):
“The homosexual has no control over his behaviour. He is either born that way or develops his sickness at an early age. He cannot change apparently; so why put him in jail…. [I]mmoral as these private relationships may be, I do not see why any statute should classify them as crimes.”

Feb 11, 1969

Robert P Kaplan (Don Valley):
“[Homosexuality] is a form of sexual perversion which arouses a sense of horror in most normal people. But many Canadians feel an equal sense of horror about the present treatment of homosexuals in this country. For example, Everett George Klippert[’s] only crime or criminal conduct was the commission of homosexual acts in private by consent and without violence with male adults…. For this he may spend the rest of his life in prison. Some Canadians believe that Mr Klippert will spend eternity in hell. That may well be, but that is not the concern of this house.”

Hon Robert L Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition): “If it is the view of the government that society has no right to be concerned about the moral climate in private society, I do not accept that point of view. However, I do accept the point of view that the criminal law is not necessarily the proper instrument for society to use in this connection. I adopt this view particularly since this law cannot, in fact, be enforced in practice and because when a law exists that cannot be enforced it tends to fall into disrepute.”

Third reading

Apr 16, 1969

Gérard Laprise (Abitibi):  “Such sexual perverts are not satisfied with meeting other perverts; too often they try by every astute means available to pervert boys and sometimes, they kill or pervert. By legalizing homosexuality, such sexual perverts are given full liberty.”

Hon Martial Asselin (Charlevoix): (Translation) “The minister knows quite well that, in general, homosexuals do not wait until they are attracted by persons of age…. Homosexuals are mostly inclined to pervert youngsters and the minister opens the door even wider…. Instead of voting legislation to help homosexuals cure themselves since they are really sick, the way is cleared for them to act more freely…. [The government] shirks its duty because the first obligation of a government is to legislate in order to protect society as a whole.”

René Matte (Champlain): “I can clearly picture the young lads 20 years 11 months and 30 days old… waiting impatiently… to celebrate their 21st anniversary by jumping into the five arms of the blue eyed boy of their dreams…. [E]ven if there were thousands and thousands of such people, it would be unthinkable to legalize such a thing.”

Steven Otto (York East):
“If one examines the early history of civilization he will find that homosexuality was quite common. This did not become immoral until the Christian era…. No one opposite has explained what benefits there might be in continuing to take criminal action against these people who are sick, and no one has denied that they are sick.”

Hon Hugh John Flemming (Carleton-Charlotte)
: “I cannot see for the life of me how anyone can justify this bill in its present form…. They are going to put the stamp of approval on homosexuality, sodomy and bestiality.”

Robert McCleave (Halifax-East Hants):
“I do not think… that we help society by making certain sexual aberrations permissible under the code. This might allow any pervert who molests children to think if his neighbour down the street can be a homosexual and mingle with his kind he himself has the right to follow his own inclination to savage young children.”

Hon WG Dinsdale (Brandon-Souris):
“We are bringing the morals and values of skid row into the salons and drawing rooms of the nation…. It is abnormal social behaviour, because homosexuals are predators…. Homosexuals prey on juveniles. It is something that spreads like a plague, for there is no more destructive drive than the sexual impulse running wild.”

Roland Godin (Portneuf): “Can an honest government allow itself to neglect the majority on behalf of a small group of perverts?”

Apr 18, 1969

Georges Valade (Saint-Marie): (Translation) “What will happen to our society if, through this legislation, we open the door to what is called homosexual prostitution? What shall we do with people who are submitted to blackmail by specimens of this third sex? … [H]ow will be able to protect society against abuses in this field?”

Vote in the House of Commons

May 14, 1969

After a marathon debate, the House passes Bill C-150 by a vote of 149 to 55.

All but one of the 120 Liberals in the House vote in favour of the bill, along with 18 New Democrats and 12 Conservatives, including leader Robert Stanfield.

Bill C-150 goes on to pass in the Senate and receives Royal Assent on Aug 26, 1969.