2 min

Homos are not ‘family’

New party pushes same old anti-gay CCRAP

REFORMING REFORM. Reform MP Keith Martin is worried about optics. Credit: Shawn Scallen

Delegates at the Reform Party’s rightwing alliance policy convention confirmed that the heterosexual family is “the essential building block for a healthy society.”

Those attending the Jan 27 to 29 conference in Ottawa rebuffed any moves to soften their traditional socially conservative stance on same-sex relationships.

Delegates voted down even limited recognition of “other relationships.” So was another resolution that would have discouraged discrimination on the basis of sex, race or “other characteristic.”

One resolution which was passed reads: “We believe that the family unit is essential to the well being of individuals and society, because that is where children learn values and develop a sense of responsibility. Therefore government legislation and programs should support and respect the role of the Canadian family. Bills and regulations will be evaluated to ensure their effect on families is positive.

And another successful one: “Legislation and programs designed to strengthen and protect the family will be directed to individuals related by blood, adoption or marriage. The marriage relationship will be defined as endorsed by Parliament (June 1999) as the union of a man and a woman as recognized by the state.”

More moderate voices, such as BC Reform MP Keith Martin, cautioned delegates to be careful of the image they were presenting to Canadian voters.

“Again we’re dealing with a perception issue here,” Martin said. “This is a sensitive issue and while most of us in this room would agree with the [heterosexist] definition of marriage, why not put those things into issues such as the Justice Department rather than trying to set ourselves up as a target.”

The extremist views prevailed on the convention floor however, as revealed by one youth who followed Martin at the microphone.

“Speaking in reference to creating a perception of inclusion, I think there’s a good number of people – myself included – who perceive a traditional Judeo-Christian definition of things, [and who] would also very much like to feel included. And quite frankly we’ve been excluded from many other parties, we thought we had found a home here. I’d like to continue doing so.”

Critics charge that Reform’s attempt to reposition itself – uniting western Reformers with key strategists in Ontario’s governing Tory administration) – won’t wash.

Ian McClelland, the Alberta MP whose son and brother in-law are both gay, may be the champion of same-sex recognition in his party’s caucus. Rather than advocating for the right of same-sex couples to marry, however, McClelland has been trying to win support for the concept of a registered domestic partnership.

“I made the conscious decision not to drive the [same-sex] issues that I’ve been fighting for [at this January conference]…. I didn’t think it was time,” says McClelland.

He believes that change should be implemented slowly. And that focussing on spousal benefits, insteading of demanding marriage rights, is the way to go.

“By denying the imprimatur of marriage – which is a word – but giving all of the other legal entitlements to come with marriage, but not the word, you accomplish everything except the word.”

The new party must win the agreement of 67 percent of Reform members in a March mail-in referendum before everything’s official. The tentative name is CCRAP – Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party.