Last edited: March 26, 2005

Nanaimo-Cowichan Member Stands by Anti-Homosexual Speech

Vancouver Sun, November 28, 2003
200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3 Canada

By Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun

OTTAWA—Nanaimo-Cowichan Alliance MP Reed Elley refused Thursday to back away from a speech he made two years ago condemning decriminalization of homosexuality even though his party colleague Larry Spencer was severely punished for saying gay sex should be made illegal again.

“People can read the speech and if they don’t agree with my historical assessment that’s their prerogative,” Elley told The Vancouver Sun.

Elley, like Spencer, a former Baptist clergyman, refused to answer when asked several times if he agreed with Alliance leader Stephen Harper’s statement Thursday the state has no business in the nation’s bedrooms and that homosexual activity should remain legal.

Harper made the comment after announcing that Spencer had been fired as family issues critic in the party and had voluntarily withdrawn from caucus for anti-gay statements he made to The Sun.

“In that speech [in 2000] I presented my views on the break-down of society as I saw it,” Elley said.

“I had deep concerns about the erosion of traditional values, and I...still continue to stand up for traditional family values,” he said.

“I’m not going to make any more comments.”

In the speech Elley said an increase during the 1960s of single-parent families and the stand taken by bra-burning, vengeful feminists, led to a “gradual blurring of the sexes” and a rise in “militant” homosexuality.

“In 1968 then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau mouthed his infamous words ‘the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,’” Elley told MPs who were debating the government’s extension of benefits to same-sex couples.

“He and his cohorts passed omnibus justice legislation which legitimized behaviour which until then for centuries had been considered outside the realm of normal and good family and personal relationships.

“He legitimized homosexuality between consenting adults. At that point in Canadian history, I believe our government started its assault on traditional family and marriage.

“In my view, no government can make legitimate any behaviour that has for centuries by tradition, custom, faith and the social contract been seen as destructive to family life.”

Elley said the Liberals under Prime Minister Jean Chretien have enacted gay rights legislation in order to continue “its assault on the family which started in 1968.”

New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson, who is gay, said Harper should permanently expel Spencer from caucus and discipline Elley and other MPs who have made what Robinson called “bigoted” comments about gays and lesbians.

He cited a statement during the 2000 debate in which Saskatchewan MP Garry Breitkreuz said: “In the 1950s buggery was a criminal offence. Now it’s a requirement to receive benefits from the federal government. This is... ridiculous.”

Robinson said there are other examples, such as former Reform MP Bob Ringma’s 1996 statement that blacks or gay clerks at a store should be moved to the back of the shop or fired if their presence offends customers.

“It’s a bit like picking up a rock and exposing the creatures underneath it to the sunlight and watching who scurries away,” Robinson (Burnaby-Douglas) said.

“For everyone like Spencer who’s dumb enough to speak on the record to the media, how many others are there who share his views?”

But Alliance MP James Moore said Harper’s hard line is a true representation of both the Alliance and the proposed new party after the planned merger with the Progressive Conservatives.

“Stephen showed decisive leadership for the kind of new conservatism that the new conservative party is going to represent,” said Moore (Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam).

Two Alliance MPs, Ted White (North Vancouver) and Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central), refused to say whether they endorse Harper’s declaration that the party believes homosexuality should be legal.

White, a devoted populist who has always said he will reflect his constituents’ views rather than his own, said:

“My job, as you know, is to represent my constituent views and I haven’t the faintest idea what the majority feel on that.”

Grewal said Harper has effectively ended the controversy but refused to endorse Harper’s statement on the issue of homosexuality’s legality, saying he didn’t have enough time.

But Moore, at 27 Parliament’s youngest MP, had no trouble defending his leader’s stand.

“The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. And it is no business of any politician to even comment, let alone legislate, let alone preach, about the consenting behaviour of two adults behind closed doors,” Moore said.

“And Larry Spencer was way over the top and I think his comments were ridiculous.”

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