Letter to Marcel Proulx, Chairman of the Special Legislative Committee on Bill C-38: Public Audiences are Necessary

Sunday, April 10 2005

Mr. Marcel Proulx, M.P.
Special Legislative Committee on Bill C-38
Room 800
Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Proulx:

On 23 March 2005, Most Reverend Brendan M. O’Brien, Archbishop of St. John’s and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to you requesting that this Conference be invited to present a brief before the Special Legislative Committee on Bill C-38 and urging that the Committee hold hearings across Canada so that as many Canadians as possible have the opportunity to be heard on this important question.

According to recent news reports, your Committee is now considering not holding formal hearings as such, beyond possibly seeking advice from technical experts.

As Archbishop O’Brien was leaving for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome, he asked me to convey to you his deep concerns, shared by all the Bishops of Canada, that the Government of Canada and your Committee could possibly consider handling legislation of such an important nature without holding hearings.

During the last federal election, there was considerable discussion among politicians and the media concerning the “democratic deficit” and the need to ensure Canadians remain interested in and committed to the democratic process.

The proposed redefinition of marriage will be one of the most significant social changes ever to face our country. A decision not to hold hearings would give all Canadians either of two possible messages: that the Government of Canada and the Special Legislative Committee do not consider marriage and the family to be of singular importance to society, or that government hearings are not of significance for involving Canadians in debates on key issues facing the country.

In thanking you for your attention to this matter, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops looks forward to receiving confirmation that your Committee will indeed be holding hearings across the country, and also that this Conference is among those to be invited to such a hearing.


Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H.
General Secretary

CC:  Members of the Special Legislative Committee on Bill C-38
Mr. Jean-Francois Pagé, Committee Clerk

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