By the end of the month, Canada could see a new Conservative Party rise from the ashes of October’s election loss, a party many have been waiting to see for quite some time.
In 2003, the Chretien Liberal government referred a proposed same-sex marriage bill to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality. The Court’s response was seen as a “clear green light in favour of equal marriage”. The next year, on February 1, 2005, the Civil Marriage Act was introduced into Parliament by Chretien’s successor, Paul Martin, and received Royal Assent in July of the same year.
Winning a minority government in 2006, the Conservatives put forward a motion to restore the traditional definition of marriage. However, subsequent to the motion’s defeat after a free vote in Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the issue had been settled and that the government would not revisit the matter.
"We made a
promise to have a free vote on this issue; we kept that promise, and
obviously the vote was decisive and obviously we'll accept the
democratic result of the people's representatives. I don't see us reopening this
question in the future." - Stephen Harper
This year’s 2016 Conservative Party Convention being held in Vancouver May 26-29 will be closing in on the 10 year anniversary of that declaration made by Stephen Harper. Now is the time for the party to truly close this door and turn a new page.
In January, at the Alberta Congress, Alberta’s Fort McMurrary-Cold Lake and Edmonton West Electoral District Associations (EDAs) co-sponsored a proposal to delete the outdated definition of traditional marriage – between one man and one woman – from the Conservative Party policy book. In an attempt to strike a balance among party members, the proposal also includes a resolution to add language to support the rights of faith based organizations. Both resolutions passed the plenary vote with an overwhelming 88% and 98% support, respectively, from grassroots members. The sponsoring EDAs explained that the resolutions were brought forward out of a shared belief in the core conservative principles of personal freedom and small government, as well as a belief that the party should be inclusive of all Canadians and reflect the current laws of Canada.
Since Alberta Congress, a diverse movement of Conservative party members from coast to coast have been working together to ensure that this motion is passed in Vancouver. The proposal has received support in Quebec, Ontario and PEI regional meetings, as well as from 27/31 (87%) Alberta EDAs in a second round of voting. Hope is strong that the party can recognize and support the efforts of grassroots conservatives, LGBTory, and their supporters, who have been working together on this important initiative. MPs like Michelle Rempel and interim leader Rona Ambrose have also expressed support for the collective's initiative.
Conservatives need to get back to their roots and remember what they stand for – small government, low taxes and individual freedom. This proposal is a crucial step in determining the party’s future, it’s up to the members now whether they want to move forward or remain stuck in the past.