Thursday, March 11, 2004

March 11, 2004: Grewal's town hall meetings on family values

Time to talk about values

Tom Zytaruk

Surrey Central MP Gurmant Grewal's town hall meetings on family values are drawing increasingly large crowds and heated debate over topics like same-sex marriage and religious freedom. About 150 people attended a meeting at Fleetwood Library Tuesday night to discuss these as well as child porn and embryonic stem cell research.

"Participants are expressing their dismay over how the family values they hold so dear are being attacked by Liberal politicians and the judges they've appointed," Grewal said. "They're fed up with judicial activism and politicians who refuse to stand up to the courts."

Grewal said his office has received more than 4,000 pieces of correspondence from constituents on family values issues. "Mostly they said I should stand up and fight the government eroding family values," he said. He added that about 95 per cent of those attending the meetings agree with his position that marriage should be between men and women, and that it's OK to conduct stem cell research but not for human cloning. "It's about human dignity," he said. "Human life should not be used as a tool."

But not everyone is cheering. Cloverdale resident Kim Forster, one of 85 who attended last week's meeting at the Cloverdale legion hall, wasn't impressed.

"I was disappointed," she said. "He really wasn't looking for finding out what his constituents' opinions were."

Forster accused Grewal of "fear mongering" over Bill C-250, a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code dealing with hate propaganda that would include sexual orientation among "identifiable groups" to be protected.

Grewal argues that the bill, which is expected to be voted on in a few weeks, curtails religious freedom and could even criminalize portions of the Bible, Koran, and other holy books which condemn homosexual activity.

"Religious institutions will be inhibited," he said. "Hindus, Jews, they will be affected. It will be widely affecting many religions."

Forster doesn't agree. "To me he's fear mongering. He's creating fear around Bill C-250, which I find offensive."

Grewal says that's not the case. "I didn't do any fear mongering." Moreover, he added, he gave Forster and others an opportunity to speak their piece. "If they have a contrary position, I want to hear their arguments," he said.

Grewal's third and final town hall meeting will be held 7 p.m. this coming Tuesday at the Newton Library, at 13795-70th Ave.