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Roxanne James under fire for past letter

Tory MP urged MPPs ‘to use the notwithstanding clause and reject’ same-sex marriage

Tory MP Roxanne James wrote in a letter that "marriage and family are critical institutions to our society and are worth defending," and called for MPPs to use the notwithstanding clause to reject the court's same-sex marriage rulings. 

Scarborough Conservative MP Roxanne James has come under fire after a letter she wrote to the Toronto Sun in 1999 condemning gay marriage and gay parents was circulated on Twitter and Reddit.

James, first elected in Scarborough Centre in 2011 and now serving as the parliamentary secretary for public safety, writes in the letter that she has “great concern” over the then-recent court decision that forced Ontario to consider same-sex partners as “spouses” within the context of partner benefits.

“It means that same-sex marriage will be a reality at City Hall, and most troubling of all, homosexuals will be able to adopt children,” she writes. “What kind of crazy society are we living in that would allow a few unelected judges to decide that it’s perfectly acceptable for children to grow up without a mother or a father? It is not acceptable to me to put children purposely at risk to satisfy the special interests of a tiny minority.” The letter in full is below.

James goes on to urge MPs and MPPs to use the notwithstanding clause to reject the court’s decision.

It is unclear if James still opposes gay marriage or gay adoption, or if she still believes that the government should use the notwithstanding clause to topple court rulings on LGBT rights. James did not respond to multiple emails and phone messages left with her staff requesting comment and clarification about the letter. A request for comment to the Conservative Party of Canada was also not responded to.

It is known that James worked with the “Defend Marriage” campaign, which sought to repeal the same-sex marriage law passed in 2005. She was a Conservative candidate in 2006 and 2008.

In her 2008 campaign, she claimed to be a member of the Campaign Family Action Coalition, a political lobby group that “has a vision to see Christian principles applied in Canadian law, politics and society,” and that continues to lobby against same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

For NDP MP Randall Garrison, the party’s LGBT critic and public safety critic, the letter is unsurprising.

“She belongs to that social conservative segment of the federal Conservative caucus that has been very adamant in opposing any expansion of gay rights, in recriminalizing sex work, and opposing safe injection sites,” he says.

While the letter was written a long time ago, Garrison says voters should make an informed decision in this year’s election about James and others who have opposed same-sex marriage.

“People need to ask [same-sex marriage opponents] if it is still their opinion. I have no evidence whether it is or is not her opinion, other than the way she voted on my [trans rights] bill [C-279], which makes me suspect it might still be her opinion,” he says.

The controversy comes as several Conservative MPs have come under fire for making racist comments about temporary foreign workers and Muslim immigrants. Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller told a radio station that Muslim Canadian women should “stay the hell where [they] came from” if they want to wear face-covering veils, and New Brunswick MP John Williamson complained that “whities” were being paid to stay home while companies bring in “brown people” as temporary workers. Both MPs apologized for their remarks.

Prime Minister Harper has not addressed those comments publicly.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

COLUMN
The Toronto Sun
Thu May 27 1999
Page: 14
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Column: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE DECISION of the Supreme Court in M v. H to redefine “spouse” causes me great concern. This will mean that 90 laws in Ontario and another 55 federally will have to be rewritten. It means that same-sex marriage will be a reality at City Hall, and most troubling of all, homosexuals will be able to adopt children. What kind of crazy society are we living in that would allow a few unelected judges to decide that it’s perfectly acceptable for children to grow up without a mother or a father? It is not acceptable to me to put children purposely at risk to satisfy the special interests of a tiny minority. Our members of Parliament must be counted onto stand up to the court. Marriage and family are critical institutions to our society and are worth defending. Our MPPs must use the notwithstanding clause and reject this court decision.

Roxanne James
Toronto

[This letter was initially shared on social media by Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor]