A Pluralistic Balance Essay

1784 words - 7 pages

In the last decade, Canadian courts have increasingly recognized gay marriages. This recognition has been long overdue as the Canadian gay community was routinely oppressed prior to this string of court rulings. This was a definite victory for Canadian democracy, seeing that a minority group has had its rights protected. Paul Martin, after having presented the Civil Marriage Act, described it "as a natural and necessary evolution of minority-rights protection under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." (Den Tant, 2005) However, there are certain inconsistencies with this seemingly pluralistic approach that have become more apparent in recent years. Canadian democracy may be defined as "majority rule, minority rights," and with these decisions we can safely assume that the majority of Canadians are tolerant of gay marriages. It therefore follows that those against gay marriages are also a minority. As a result of this recent change in the political climate, the power scheme has shifted from those who oppose same-sex marriage to the gay community. This is evidenced in the many incarcerations of religious figures who peacefully protest outside of parliament hill and were consequently charged with hate crimes1. This is clearly not the epitome of democracy and the best possible solution would be to restore the power balance between these groups so that each has as much power as the other with compromises on various issues.

Pluralism may be defined as the pursuit of individuals in utilizing various political tools available to them, with the freedom to find and cooperate with those who are like minded. If this group is formed but is ignored by the government of Canada and the majority in general, the group can mobilize its resources and act in various ways to change their status in the face of the public. This is the most common approach in Canadian democracy and is the ideal described herein. (Dyck, 2004) It is necessary to take note of this because those who would justify the incarcerations, penalties and to some extent oppression of religious and other figures against gay marriage may state that Canada is a secular nation and human rights take precedence over religious beliefs. This is correct in essence but also contradicts itself in this context; religious figures have been much oppressed as a result of this power shift and therefore also qualify for protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This will become more evident with relevant examples.

In May of 2002, Marc Hall, a gay student in an Oshawa catholic school was not permitted by school officials to take his boyfriend to the graduation prom. A court case was launched and the judge ruled in favour of Hall. The school officials said that they were not against Hall's homosexuality but did not wish to send an image of public homosexual acceptance as it goes against the teachings of the church. Hall had the right to switch to a public school but he refused. (CBC, 2002)...

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