"You take a person and you associate them or identify them with a particular group. And then you attribute to that person all the characteristics of that group, without out giving them a chance to stand on their own merits." That was North Vancouver-Seymour provincial Liberal nomination hopeful Cindy Silver's response when Public Eye mentioned her work as a lawyer for a number of socially conservative Christian groups. So we're going to give Ms. Silver, who may be looking to unseat backbencher Dan Jarvis, that chance.
When we asked Ms. Silver what her position was on same-sex marriages, a union which she has advocated against in court, she told us, "I was involved in those cases for so many years and I development my own perspective on them. And if you want to see what my perspective is, you should look at my submission to the standing committee" on justice and human rights last April.
"And what I said was that same-sex couples not only deserve, but they require recognition. The controversy is whether or not it should take the form of marriage - whether the name marriage should be expanded or whether, because it's a unique kind of relationship, it should develop its own legal structure and title." In her submission, Ms. Silver supported the latter idea.
Public Eye also questioned Ms. Silver about her thoughts on the use of corporal punishment to discipline children - another issue she's worked on. The North Vancouver school trustee said, "I'm not a believer in spanking. But I am a believer in the autonomy of the family and that there is a unique relationship with parents and their children. And, we need to be careful in society not to undermine that."
That position is somewhat different from the one she expressed in The Vancouver Sun back in 1994. In a letter to the editor, signed under her own name, Ms. Silver wrote "properly administered corporal punishment educates children to the dangers of disobedience, defiance, selfishness, sassiness, cruelty to others and actions that put the child's life in danger. It teaches them self-control and respect for authority - two characteristics necessary in socially responsible children."
While Public Eye was reading that letter to her, Ms. Silver exclaimed, "Did I actually write that? My kids are older now. My oldest is 21. My youngest is 13. It's funny how you change over the years. That was 1994...And that was my initial knee-jerk reaction (to the issue). And I do not advocate spanking. I advocate using all other kinds of alternatives."
Ms. Silver also added her work with the Focus on the Family (Canada) Association, a controversial Christian family rights group, was "behind me." That group is connected with an American organization with the same name.