Report: Family

The Role of the Family in Democracy



A. The Debate in our Courts

B. The Fault Lines

1. The Definition Of The Family

2. The Public Education Of The Young

3. The Relationship Between Parent And Child

C. The Family As A Necessity For Democracy






The Role of the Family in Democracy: Obstacle or Necessity?


By David Brown






In recent years, family and “family values” have entered the political stage as “hot items.” Issues which are extolled by some and dismissed by others as remnants of a dusty past. But the debate about the family is important. In fact, a debate about the family could never be unimportant. A tension has now emerged between the family and democracy, which, in large part, is due to a change in our political philosophy or the way that we think about democracy. The concept of individual autonomy is now afforded greater importance than the democratic principle of the “common good.” As a consequence of this shift in thinking, fault lines, or areas where this tension between the family and contemporary Canadian political thought are particularly evident, have emerged. Three fault lines which are highlighted in this paper include:


1. the definition of the family
2. the education of the young
3. the scope of parental authority.


Finally, this paper suggests that the family is necessary for the proper operation of democracy; precisely because the family is a non-democratic institution.




A. The Debate in our Courts


For better or for worse, our courts have emerged as the makers of social policy in this country and debate about the family is ongoing, especially in the Supreme Court of Canada. In several recent cases, one group of judges reiterated the central importance of the family to Canadian society and the crucial role played by parents in raising children.


In the 1995 Richard B decision, the Supreme Court considered the central role played by parents in the education of their children, particularly with regards to educating them in the tenets of their religious faith. Justice Iacobucci stated:


That constitutional freedom [freedom of religion] includes the right to educate and rear their child in the tenets of their faith. In effect, until the child reaches an age where she can make an independent decision regarding her own religious beliefs, her parents may decide on her religion for her and raise her in accordance with that religion.1


1. The 1995 case of Miron v. Trudel debated the rights of heterosexual common-law couples to receive insurance benefits that are traditionally given to the spouse in married couples. In the Court’s decision, Mr. Justice Gonthier quoted with approval the following language from a U.S. Supreme Court decision:
[Marriage] is an institution, in the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.2


2. In the Miron case, Justice Gonthier characterized the family as a foundation of society which, because of its important place in society, deserved the support of legislators. When viewed from this vantage point, the family and democracy appear in perfect harmony. But the Supreme Court of Canada is a complex institution in which flow many different currents of thought. One such current which has gathered increasing strength in the last decade is the concept of “individual autonomy.” The notion of individual autonomy is not new, and its origins can legitimately be traced back to the late 18th century. It received a major impetus following the Second World War with the enactment of various human rights declarations and statutes, both in Canada and elsewhere in the Western world. Traditionally, the concept of individual autonomy served to protect an individual from unlawful detention, arrest or surveillance by the state. However, in the course of some Supreme Court of Canada decisions interpreting the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this concept has been significantly expanded. Madame Justice Wilson, in a 1988 decision, defined the concept of individual autonomy in the following language:
The Charter is predicated on a particular conception of the place of the individual in society. An individual is not a totally independent entity disconnected from the society in which he or she lives. Neither, however, is the individual a mere cog in an impersonal machine in which his or her values, goals and aspirations are subordinated to those of the collectivity. The individual is a bit of both. The Charter reflects this reality by leaving a wide range of activities and decisions open to legitimate government control while at the same time placing limits on the proper scope of that control. Thus, the rights guaranteed in the Charter erect around the individual, metaphorically speaking, an invisible fence over which the state will not be allowed to trespass.3


3. Where does this concept of the individual lead? According to Justice Wilson:
These are all examples of the basic theory underlying the Charter, namely, that the state will respect choices made by individuals and, to the greatest extent possible, will avoid subordinating these choices to any one conception of the good life.4


4. This formulation presents serious consequences for the family. First, Justice Wilson regards the respect for individual choices as the “basic theory” underlying our primary political document, the Charter. While the issue of human action, or choice, constitutes one of the primary matters for political consideration, it is troubling to suggest that we should primarily be interested only in “respecting” the decisions of the individual, rather than evaluating, or judging, the merit of the choice. Indeed, in her second element of the basic theory of Canadian law, Justice Wilson is quite blunt in stating that there should not be “any one conception of the good life.”


This statement has profound implications for our society and it cannot be ignored as the isolated musings of one judge, for Justice Wilson’s conception of the place of the individual in society has subsequently been adopted by other members of the Supreme Court.5


5. In brief, some of the political implications posed by Justice Wilson’s proposition include:


a. If our law should “avoid subordinating (individual choices) to any one conception of the good life,” on what basis can our laws be made? Laws are not required where the goal of society is to permit everyone to do what they want. On the contrary, laws restrict and guide the actions of people. As the 13th century philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas once stated, “ is given for the purpose of directing human acts.”6 Justice Wilson’s proposition contains a profound challenge to the legitimacy of the very act of making laws.


b. A second serious implication relates to another aspect of law- making in democracies. Justice Wilson implies that since there can be no one conception of the good life, then there is no basis upon which to judge good laws from bad laws. For a democracy, such as ours, to rely simply on the will of the majority without providing the majority with any guiding principles for distinguishing good laws from bad, risks reducing law-making to an exercise in decision making by those who wield the most power at any point of time. Rules which rely for their foundation only on their usefulness to the majority, in the end, rely on the exercise of power alone. For example, the slave laws of the American South in the 1700’s and 1800’s were quite useful ? as long as you stood on the slaveholders’ side of the line.


c. In rejecting the concept of “the good life,” Justice Wilson has rejected the political and ethical insights offered by the philosopher, Aristotle, who divided human desires into two categories: (1) Needs: the desires inherent in our natural capacities or needs such as food, water, shelter or knowledge; and (2) Wants: which are our acquired desires. For example, we do not need different kinds of food to satisfy our hunger, but we acquire tastes for certain food and when we get hungry we want those kinds of foods. In other words, we want things that we don’t need.


According to Aristotle, a right plan for our lives involves seeking and acquiring all the things that are “good” for us to have. In our quest for “the good life,” we must identify the good things that we genuinely need and then embark upon the right course of conduct to obtain them during the course of a lifetime. To do this at the individual level, we must act in such a way that we develop a good moral character and good habits of choice; which then enable us to seek real goods in the right amount, in the right order and in the right relation to each other. These habits of right choice consist of the virtues, both intellectual and moral.


Aristotle thought that the political state should help individuals to obtain and possess the real goods that they need by enacting laws which cultivate virtuous conduct. He saw a strong link between laws and the formation of good character, and believed that if the state is to assist individual men and women in achieving the good life, then those who make its laws must be virtuous and understand what the good life entails. Aristotle did not rely on external sources such as divine revelation to illuminate the content of the good life; instead he thought that the good life could be ascertained by people employing right reason.


There are three profound implications or consequences which arise from Justice Wilson’s rejection of Aristotle’s ideas. First, Justice Wilson implies that the distinction between needs and wants is untenable. That is, there is no such thing as “right desire.” Second, if no such thing as “right desire” exists, we do not require any faculty or ability to decide what is or is not a right desire. Simply put, reason becomes subordinate to passion. Ironically our age, which styles itself as the culmination of the Enlightenment has, in fact, plucked reason from its pedestal in order to let our passions have free reign. Third, if there does not exist some highest good, or good life, on which we should set our sights, why do individuals need to learn and develop good habits of choice? Any choice will do. By ignoring these implications, Justice Wilson has proposed a theoretical framework for sweeping the virtues (understood as shared goods) out of Canadian culture.




B. The Fault Lines


The concept of individual autonomy, as articulated by some of our Supreme Court judges, underpins this new view of democratic life and accounts for the fault lines, or areas of tension, which have developed between the family and Canadian democracy. Three such fault lines have emerged:


1. The Definition Of The Family


It should not come as a surprise that a political philosophy which rejects the sanctioning of any one conception of the good life, should open the doors to a reconsideration of the very definition of the family. In 1952, Mortimer Adler, then Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica, supervised the publication of the Great Books of the Western World, a collection of the great writings of all times. As a companion to the series, Adler later wrote a series of essays on what he considered to be the 102 great ideas treated by the great minds over the centuries. One such essay dealt with “The Family,” and opened with these words: “The human family, according to the philosopher Rousseau, is ‘the most ancient of all societies and the only one that is natural.’ “ On the naturalness of the family there seems to be general agreement in the great books, although not all would claim, like Rousseau, that it is the only natural society.7 Adler’s essay summarized the themes about the family addressed by the great writers, all of whom treated the family as consisting of a husband, a wife and their offspring.


In the past five years our courts, and on a few limited occasions our elected legislators, have departed radically from this conception of the family. A new definition of the family is emerging from cases dealing with the availability of certain financial benefits to same-sex couples and, as a result, the historical definition of the family now appears at odds with a changed view of Canadian democracy.


In the 1993 Mossop case8, the Supreme Court of Canada narrowly ruled that the term “immediate family,” as used in a government collective agreement, did not include same-sex couples. Justice L’Heureux-Dube, in a dissenting opinion, canvassed the meaning of the term “family.” Her conclusions were that, first, no consensus exists today as to the boundaries of family and the word may have varied meanings9; and second, the “traditional family is not the only family form and non-traditional family forms may equally advance true family values.”10


What, then, are true family values? According to Justice L’Heureux-Dube, we have to look at the values that lie at the base of the family and why society desires to recognize and support families.11 Here, according to the Justice, are the reasons why society supports the family: first, it is a vehicle to support social stability; second, it encompasses intimate and emotional relationships; and third, it provides a loving and nurturing environment.12 None of these values, according to the Justice, requires any particular form of relationship, and each value can be accomplished by heterosexual and homosexual couples alike.


To the suggestion that one of the key values underlying the family is its importance to society in fostering procreation, Justice L’Heureux-Dube gave two responses. Her first response was that since not all married couples have children, families do not require procreation as an element. For the Justice then, it appears that the fact that most married couples do have children carries no weight. In the past we used to say, “This is the exception that proves the rule,” but it now appears that if one can point to an exception, one can conclude that no rule exists. There is a certain degree of unnaturalness in this logic. The court is attempting to employ the scientific method (where an hypothesis is rejected if it fails to explain all observed phenomena) in examining the social behaviour of human beings. Aristotle provided some common sense to those who observe the human condition when he suggested that we should always look “for nature’s own norm in things whose condition is according to nature,” and not base our observations on exceptions to the norm.13


In her second response, Justice L’Heureux-Dube stated that “though procreation is an element in many families, placing the ability to procreate as the inalterable basis of family could result in an impoverished rather than an enriched vision.”14 With all due respect to Her Ladyship, an “enriched vision” of the family divorced from procreation is a vision which will have a short life. It will die out because it cannot replenish itself.


Justice L’Heureux-Dube gave the broadest definition to the term, “family,” because in her view the purpose of laws which prohibit discrimination and promote equality is to “provide an equal opportunity to make the type of life one wishes... “15 In other words, since democracy conceives of equality as providing an equal opportunity to make the type of life one wishes and the historical definition of the family stands in the way of this concept, the judges stand prepared to change the definition of family.


How do judges answer the observation by philosophers, both ancient and modern, that the family is a “natural society” because it is necessary for human welfare. Necessary in the profound sense of the continuation of the species. The 1995 Egan16 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada reveals the Court’s disparate views on this issue. Some of the judges essentially adopted Justice L’Heureux-Dube’s analysis, accepting the proposition that “it is in the nature of humankind to form family bonds, this desire not being dependent upon heterosexual orientation.”17 Justice Cory wrote: “the definition of “spouse” as someone of the opposite sex reinforces the stereotype that homosexuals cannot and do not form lasting, caring, mutual supportive relationships with economic interdependence in the same manner as heterosexual couples.”18


Other judges, in the words of Justice La Forest, held that: ...marriage has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of long-standing philosophical and religious traditions. But its ultimate raison d’etre transcends all of these and is firmly anchored in the biological and social realities that heterosexual couples have the unique ability to procreate, that most children are the product of these relationships, and that they are generally cared for and nurtured by those who live in that relationship. In this sense, marriage is by nature heterosexual. It would be possible to legally define marriage to include homosexual couples, but this would not change the biological and social realities that underlie the traditional marriage.19


In their haste, some judges have turned their backs on the experiences and thought of history, including the simple insight that the continuation of any society depends upon the existence, preservation and support of a social institution which will continue the species. (See Editorial Note at bottom of page).


2. The Public Education Of The Young


In Ontario, at least, the concept of individual autonomy now underlies the curriculum offered to young students. For example, The Common Curriculum, which the Ontario Ministry of Education first published in 1993 to outline the goals of education in Ontario’s elementary schools, describes the role of elementary schools in the moral education of their young students. Adapting to changing attitudes is a difficult process for all of us and one that can place special demands on students, who are just beginning to develop and test their “values.” It is important, therefore, that schools and their programs provide both clear guidelines and a climate of flexibility and understanding in which independent thinking can thrive and in which students can develop values that they themselves consider relevant for the life they envisage. The Common Curriculum, with its emphasis on responding to a variety of needs, provides the basis for such a climate.20 (emphasis added) Two principles emerge from this statement of purpose. First, schools do not teach shared principles, instead they provide a climate of flexible and personal “values.” Second, students develop the values which they choose and their choice is based upon their own perception of the “relevance” of the value to their life. Values are determined independently and any commonality amongst the values chosen by different students is pure coincidence. Because The Common Curriculum is predicated on the principle that there is no right or wrong, one cannot find in it a simple statement that students in Grades One to Nine should be taught right from wrong.


G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “Education is only truth in a state of transmission...”21 For those parents who share Chesterton’s view of education, the “values clarification” approach taught in the public schools collides with the workings of their family life. If at-home parents teach their children that there are right and wrong ways to conduct themselves, their children then proceed to spend a large part of their days in an environment whose philosophical underpinnings fundamentally contradict those of the home. Looking at the issue from the point of view of the state and its schools, the family which functions as a “school in the virtues”, challenges the message which the state seeks to impart to the young. Those values are simply a menu of choices, and individuals are free to pick “what is relevant for the life [they] envisage.”


For parents who object to the educational approaches embraced by the public schools, the option of sending their children to private schools or even schooling their children at home exists in most Canadian provinces. One would think that an education system that emphasizes options or choices would fit in well with the concept of individual autonomy. After all, if no one conception of the good life exists, neither should there exist any one way to educate one’s children. This may sound logical in theory, however, in practice provincial governments are extremely reluctant to give up their dominant role in educating the young. The following is a somewhat extreme, but recent example.


The Butler family of Red Harbour, Newfoundland, had three children, two of whom were of school age. The Butlers belonged to a branch of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and opted to educate their children at home, in large part to ensure that their children were educated in their faith. The parents approached two school boards to have their home schooling program certified, but the boards refused, although they gave no reasons. The Butlers were then charged and convicted of failing to provide adequate education for their children and ordered to register their children in the local school. They refused, and their three children were subsequently apprehended by the child welfare authorities and placed in foster care. When it was discovered that the youngest child was not of school age, she was returned to her parents. The parents sought to set aside the apprehension order and were successful. The appeal court22 observed that no evidence had been placed before the first court by the provincial authorities to demonstrate that the children were not receiving an adequate education. It is clear from the appeal court’s decision that the child welfare authorities considered the religious zeal of the parents to be contrary to the interests of their children.


This is an extreme case, but it is remarkable in its implications. For the state to remove children from the care of their parents because its officials disagreed with the strong religious teaching imparted by the parents marks a dangerous intrusion into the inner workings of the family.


In essence, the state is saying, ‘If you teach your children that there are immutable truths based on your faith, we will consider your children as in need of protection and take them away from you.’ This is a sharp contrast to the words of the Supreme Court in the Richard B23 case in which the constitutional freedom of religion was held to include the right to educate and rear one’s child in the tenets of one’s faith.


3. The Relationship Between Parent And Child


In 1989, the United Nations passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada then ratified in 1991. The Convention contains many worthy sections, insisting that states should ensure that all children have the basic necessities of life such as food in their stomachs, shelter, clothes and access to education. Yet several sections of the Convention import the concept of individual autonomy into the family, thereby cloaking children with rights which they can then assert against their parents.


One example of this is the right of children to access information published by the mass media. The Convention recognizes two rights of children in this regard: The first is the right of a child to freedom of expression, including the freedom “to seek, receive and import information and ideas of all kinds . . . either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of the child’s choice.”24 But the Article does not contain a limitation subjecting the child’s right to seek information to parental review of the materials. Article 17 of the Convention25 provides that governments “recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources.” It then goes on to call for the development of guidelines to protect the child from information harmful to his well-being and invites the consideration of the parents’ views in such an exercise. But the Article envisages parents merely as one group amongst many that should participate in developing the guidelines for the child whom they have the duty to raise.


By injecting “legal rights” into the relationship between parent and child, the situation is created where, to paraphrase Justice Wilson, an invisible fence is erected around each child which parents will not be allowed to penetrate. Parental authority, or guidance, is excluded from important areas of a child’s life. This is already occurring in the area of health care, where physicians often will not consult with parents before providing treatment to a child, especially when the child is an adolescent or teenager. Recently, a private member’s bill was introduced in Ontario which would require any physician to make reasonable efforts to consult with a parent before providing treatment to a child under sixteen years of age.26 The bill did not make it past first reading and drew opposition from some physicians’ groups that regarded it as an interference in the doctor-patient relationship. Yet if the relationship between parent and child is simply equated to, or made subordinate to, the relationship between child and physician, then parents stand in no better position than strangers to teach and guide their child.


When we promote laws which push parents out of important areas in children’s lives, we risk cultivating parents who then become indifferent to their children’s lives. Our legislators and judges sometimes forget that the law also performs an educative function. Do we really want laws to erect invisible fences around each child and thereby encourage parents to ignore the development of their children in those areas? Child welfare laws are necessary to protect the unfortunate child abused by a parent who has abandoned his or her responsibilities to the child. But apart from such cases, laws should not step between a parent and child to remove the child from the teaching influence of the parent.


In the Senate last December, Senator Carstairs introduced Bill S-14, a bill which seeks to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code. Section 43 reads: “Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” Simply put, Senator Carstairs’ bill seeks to abolish spanking. Parents may have different views on spanking which are reflected in their different approaches to disciplining their children, even though spanking, when judiciously chosen and reasonably applied, has long been recognized as a legitimate form of parental discipline. But for the government to propose to remove from parents a hitherto accepted means of discipline represents a significant intrusion into the relationship between the parent and child, and should not be undertaken without a clear understanding of the consequences to the relationship between parent and child.


The impetus for the repeal of Section 43 appears to be linked with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 1991, the federal government founded the Children’s Bureau to implement the Convention and the Bureau then set up a committee to study the repeal of Section 43. The committee subsequently advocated the repeal of the section and, in one of its releases, had this word of advice to parents, “Revise your expectations. Young children are naturally loud, curious, messy, willful, impatient, demanding, forgetful, fearful, self-centred and full of energy. Try to accept them as they are.”27




C. The Family As A Necessity For Democracy


When viewed against the backdrop of these court pronouncements and legislative efforts to enter the lives of families, one could conclude that the family, as we have known it, is an obstacle to the democratic progress. It is an obstacle to equality because its historic definition unfairly limits its availability to unions between men and women; it is an obstacle to equality because it rests on the ability of its members to procreate; it is an obstacle to equality because some parents teach their children that there is a right and wrong, rather than promote the more-common notion that there is no one conception of the good life; it is an obstacle to the liberty of the child because parents try to make children do things which they do not want to do or restrain them from doing that which they desire. In all these ways, some could say that the family poses an obstacle to the working of our democratic values as expressed by our highest court or contemplated by some of our legislators.


And there is validity to this charge. Families really do pose an obstacle to this new vision of democracy. However, by reviewing the ways in which the family stands as an obstacle, it is also clear that the family is necessary for democracy.


The first reason is obvious: the family is the social institution which ensures the propagation of the species and the continuation of society.


Democracy requires the family for a second reason. The family teaches children about the proper limits of human conduct. While democracy fosters the exercise of political liberties, it also depends on moral restraints for its survival. If citizens of a democracy are not bound together by a common code of ethics, political liberties will become illusory. This point was best made by an early 19th Century French aristocrat who travelled throughout the United States in an effort to understand the workings of the young republic. In the book that he wrote about that trip in 1835, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the crucial role played in American democratic life by another institution, religion. He wrote: If the mind of the Americans were free from all hindrances, they would shortly become the most daring innovators and the most persistent disputants in the world. But the revolutionists of America are obliged to profess an ostensible respect for Christian morality and equity, which does not permit them to violate wantonly the laws that oppose their designs; . . . Hitherto no one in the United States has dared to advance the maxim that everything is permissible for the interests of society, an impious adage which seems to have been invented in an age of freedom to shelter all future tyrants. Thus, while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash and unjust.28 de Tocqueville continued: When... men attack religious opinions, they obey the dictates of their passions and not of their interests. Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic which they set forth in glowing colours than in the monarchy which they attack; it is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed?29 This insight is profound. Traditionally, we have regarded our liberties as political ones, founded upon a common moral code. What we have witnessed during the past few years, especially since the advent of the Charter, is a confusion between political and moral liberties, with the Supreme Court of Canada frequently equating moral liberty with political liberty. This risks removing the moral underpinnings required for the exercise of our political liberties.


The family serves as one of the most important social institutions which strengthens the moral tie of a country. Parents must not only teach children that there are limits or boundaries to human conduct in a community and what those limits are, but they must also raise their children, through example, discipline and love, to restrain their will so that their conduct stays within those boundaries. The following description of parental responsibility captures well those virtues necessary for democracy which parents must transmit to their children: Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home were tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well-suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship inself-denial, sound judgment and self-mastery. The preconditions of all true freedom.


The third reason why democracy requires the family rests in the way that virtues are taught within the family. The family is the most effective teacher of the virtues precisely because the family is not a democratic institution. Within the context of family, parents indoctrinate their children, in the best sense of that word, and form the character of their children by relying on their authority and love. Their authority guides the child with the voice of tried experience; while their love ensures that any correction of discipline occurs with the interests of the child at heart. Over 2,500 years ago, Aristotle recognized the efficacy of the family in teaching the virtues:
In fact laws and customs have the same place in states as paternal precepts and customs have in families. In the latter case supervision is even more effective by reason of relationship and benefit conferred, for the children first love their parents and readily obey them out of natural affection.31 Recently Luis Lugo, a professor of political science at Calvin College in Michigan, pointed out the somewhat strange, but necessary, dependence of democracy on non-democratic institutions such as the family. He wrote: A democratic society actually requires non-democratic institutions to survive. There’s an interesting complementarity built into society, and part of it is that people operating in the context of non-democratic institutions absorb certain values that they then can take to a more democratic setting and use responsibly. That is why I am extremely concerned about the push of individual rights into the sphere of the family. Talk about children’s rights is alarming, not only because of how it affects the family, which is alarming enough, but because of its long-term consequences for the body politic. I don’t think the liberal tradition has sufficiently acknowledged the importance of non-liberal institutions. To the extent that every institution becomes a carbon copy of the liberal polity, the liberal polity itself becomes an untenable proposition.32 Some may consider my observations about the role of family to be idealistic and unattainable. Although in this day and age they may sound idealistic, they are not unattainable. Indeed, it is only in the past three decades that this ideal has been displaced. We must not underestimate the critical support which the family provides to our democracy. Democracy may allow us to exercise a broad range of political liberties, but its ability to do so depends upon a well understood and practised set of rules of human conduct. We should not be too eager to subject the family to the influence of the concept of individual autonomy. For every time that the law cuts another tie in the private realm of the family, it also cuts a tie which holds together our public institutions and threatens democracy itself.






1. Richard B. v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto. [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315, at pp.434-5.

2. Miron v. Trudel (1995 ), 124 D.L.R. (4th)693, at p.712c, quoting Maynard V. Hill 125 U.S. 190 (1888).

3. Morgentaler v. The Queen (1988). 44 D.L.R. (4th) 385, at p.485.

4. Morgentaler, supra., at p. 486.

5. R.v. Zundel, (1992), 95 D.L.R. (4th) 202, per Cory and Iacobucci, JJ, at pp.239-240; and R.v. Salituro, (1991) 3 S.C.R. 654, at pp.673-4.

6. Summa Theologica, Pt.1-11. Q.92, Art. 1.

7. Mortimer Adler, The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought (New York: MacMillan, 1992), p.221.

8. Canada (Attorney-General) v. Mossop (1993), 100 D.L.R. (4th) 658.

9. Ibid, at p.706b.

10. Ibid, at p.712d.

11. Ibid, at p.708f.

12. Ibid, at pp.708-711.

13. The Politics, Book 1, Ch. v., at 1254a28-1254b2.

14. Mossop, supra., at p.710c-d.

15. Ibid, at p.700e.

16. Egan v. Canada, (1995), 124 D.L.R. (4th) 609 (S.C.C.).

17. Ibid, per Iacobucci, J. at p.681h.

18. Ibid, at p.677b.

Editorial Note: It is worth noting that an intervenor before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Egan case was “The Inter-Faith Coalition on Marriage and the Family.” This group was made up of representatives from a variety of Canadian religious and ethnic traditions including Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian (Protestant and Catholic) and a pro-family organization. All of these groups placed materials and arguments from their traditions before the Court which indicated that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples. Therefore, it cannot be said that a policy favouring heterosexual marriage in any way offends a meaningful pluralism in Canada or the importance of Canada’s “multi-cultural heritage.” On the contrary, to endorse same-sex marriage is offensive to meaningful pluralism.


19. Ibid, at p.625e.

20. Ministry of Education and Training, Ontario, The Common Curriculum: Policies and Outcomes, Grades 1-9 (1995), p.8.

21. G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World? (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), p.140.

23. See fn. 1 above.

24. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 13 (1).

25. Ibid, Article 17.

27.”Coping with tricky times: conflict resolution in adult/child relationships,” Repeal 43 Committee.

28. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. 1, c.17 (New York: Vintage Books, 1945), p.316.

29. Ibid, p. 318.

30. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2223.

31. Nicomachean Ethics, book X, c.9, @1180a34.

32. Luis Lugo, “Caesar’s Coin and the Politics of the Kingdom: A Pluralist Perspective,” in M. Cromartie, ed., Caesar’s Coin Revisited: Christians and the Limits of Government (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), p.32. Note: This book was reviewed in the Centre’s newsletter, Centrepoints, Vol. 5, May, 1997.