Quick Links To MYC National Communications on Freedom of Speech, Religion & Conscience:
Freedom of speech, religion and conscience is an area of growing concern in Canada, particularly for Christians as our society has become increasingly obsessed with political correctness and those who stand for righteousness are often in direct opposition to the mainstream.
Canada Summer Jobs Program Funding
At the end of 2017 it was announced that the Government was making changes to its Canada Summer Jobs program which gives funding to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and small businesses to hire summer students.
These changes make it so that pro-life and faith-based organizations are essentially ineligible to participate. The update now requires applicants to sign an attestation that:.
“The core mandate of the organization must respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
The backlash to the attestation was widespread across Canada and by groups from many different faiths.
On March 1st, the Conservative Party of Canada used their Opposition Day for an unexpected debate on the Canada Summer Jobs issue in the house of Commons and on March 19th, Members of Parliament will be voting on the following motion:
“That, in the opinion of the House, organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation.”
Doctors’ Conscience Rights
Freedom of conscience has been a topic of discussion in the medical realm after the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario adopted a new policy declaring that doctors who morally oppose providing abortion services or prescribing birth control, or doctor assisted suicide, would be required to refer patients for treatment with other physicians. Those who refuse on religious grounds could face discipline such as needing to upgrade their education or possibly even having their medical license revoked.
This case and topic were recently examined on the Faytene Show. Please click the viewer below to watch the show now:
Conservative MP Mark Warawa introduced Bill C-268 to protect the conscience rights of all health care professionals against being forced to participate in assisted suicide. (Click here to sign the petition supporting C-268 now).
Trinity Western University
The attack on freedom of religion also continues to rear its head against Trinity Western University (TWU) in BC, a Christian school which ranks among the best universities in the nation. Staff, faculty, and students at the school sign a Community Covenant Agreement which includes an understanding of sexual intimacy being reserved for “marriage between one man and one woman”.
Claiming discrimination against the LGBT community, provincial law societies decided that no accreditation would be given to TWU graduates in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario. Accreditation, therefore, had become less about potential lawyers’ academics and more about their personal morals; a clear violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. TWU overcame this challenge to their freedom in Nova Scotia in early 2015, and celebrated another big win in BC in December 2015, when it was legally determined that the ban against the Law school “infringed on the petitioners’ Charter right to freedom of religion”. The Ontario courts, however, have upheld the decision in Canada’s most populous province.
TWU’s defence and witness teams presented in provincial Courts of Appeals in Nova Scotia in May 2016 and in BC/Ontario in June as law societies continued to fight against TWU. The law society in Nova Scotia upheld TWU’s victorious ruling in July 2016 and the law society in BC also ruled in favour of the school a second time at the end of October 2016. Unfortunately, both the initial and appeals cases in Ontario were unfavourable for TWU and graduates of the proposed school will not be accredited in the province. Trinity Western, however, has vowed to take the Ontario society to the nation’s highest legal authority, the Supreme Court of Canada. Stay tuned for news on the upcoming Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court heard the cases on November 30th and December 1st, 2017 and we are awaiting the verdict.
UofT Professor Jordan Peterson
University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson has been the man at the front of the war for freedom of speech in Canada.
Professor Peterson first stepped into national spotlight after releasing a series of Youtube videos in September 2016 outlining his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns and opposing political correctness, specifically in relation to the federal government’s Bill C-16. Peterson also condemns the OHRC’s definition of gender as “a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum.” This definition, in combination with federal Bill C-16 can, and most likely will seriously infringe upon the free speech of Canadians, according to Peterson.
Professor Peterson’s position is that it is not appropriate for the government to mandate the words that its citizens should speak. For this, he has come under intense scrutiny and attack from university staff, students, and transgender activists from across the nation.
Prof. Peterson took part in a debate on November 19th at the University of Toronto defending his position against two other Canadian professors. To find out how you can help support Dr. Peterson in his fight to protect free speech, please click here.
Office of Religious Freedom
Canada has long been recognized as a champion for multiculturalism, diversity, respect and multi-faith freedoms both within its borders and around the world. This is why it was fitting for the Government of Canada under then-PM Stephen Harper to open the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) within Global Affairs Canada on February 19, 2013. Since then, the office was run under the direction of Dr. Andrew P. W. Bennett, Canada’s first Ambassador for Religious Freedom, with the international mandate of protecting, and advocating on behalf of religious minorities under threat, opposing religious hatred and intolerance and promoting Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad.
With the office’s mandate and funding set to run out on March 31, 2016, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis put forth a motion asking the Liberal government to acknowledge the good that the office has done and to consider renewing its mandate. The motion was voted down 226 to 90. Shortly after, the Liberal government announced that they would be closing the office. According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion, the Liberal Government is “determined to fight tooth and nail for religious freedom around the world“, but says they will be more effective by combining all of Global Affairs Canada’s efforts to defend and promote human rights through one single office.
MP Garnett Genuis’ Motion on the Office of Religious Freedom
Christian Group Refused Right to Gather at Dundas Square in Toronto
Recently at the forefront of this issue was a battle taking place in Toronto, where Christian group Voice of the Nations (VOTN) has held its annual music festival in the city’s Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto’s equivalent of New York’s Times Square since 2006. However, the group’s application for their usual time slot in 2016 was denied as they were accused of “proselytizing” during the 2015 event. (Proselytizing is defined as ‘to convert or attempt to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.’) According to the Square’s event coordinator, Natalie Belman, “if you’re ‘praising Jesus’ or ‘praise the Lord,’ and ‘there’s no God like Jehovah,’ that type of thing? That’s proselytizing.” Thus, in a public space normally open to any type of protest, march, rally, and musical concert, the group was being silenced because of their public display of Christian praise.
After months of dispute and over 40,000 signatures in petition, the city agreed to approve VOTN’s application on February 4th, 2016. The group went forward with plans for their August 6th, 2016 date and enjoyed a wonderfully successful event.
Pro-Life MPs Not Allowed to Vote their Conscience
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decreed early on that Liberal MPs opposed to abortion would be required to vote pro-choice on any abortion issues that arise in the House of Commons. In the Prime Minister’s own words, “the policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for women’s right to choose.” This means that members of parliament have to vote pro-choice even if they or their constituents are pro-life. This speaks to more than just the fight against abortion but becomes a fight for freedom of conscience and religion in general.
MY Canada Joined Christian Groups at Parliamentary Press Conference Regarding Freedom of Conscience
In March of 2015, MY Canada had the honour of helping to organize and participate in a national press conference at the Parliament of Canada on the issue of freedom of religion and conscience. At the press conference, national Christian leaders including MY Canada’s Lia Milousis called upon the government to actively defend these important rights which are outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At the press conference, the delegation detailed how freedom of religion and conscience has been increasingly attacked in Canada over the past years and that the Christian faith in particular has been under fire. We believe that the press conference was an important step in raising the profile of this important issue to our government.
Now, more than ever, Canadians must exercise their rights to free speech, religion and conscience before they are challenged further. (See what you can do below).
MYC Video: Freedom Isn’t Free – Your Vote Matters
Links To Related Articles:
Mar. 15th, 2018 – National Post – Restriction on summer jobs funding not the first time religious rights in Canada have been trampled on
Jan. 21st, 2018 – National Post – How the Canada Summer Jobs program became a freedom-of-religion controversy
Sept. 11th, 2017 – Law Times – School can refuse admission of child of same-sex couple
Sept. 5th, 2017 – National Post – How a dispute over the distribution of graphic anti-abortion literature in Toronto could test the limits of free speech
Apr. 18th, 2017 – CBC – Campus clash: students battle over what constitutes free speech
Feb. 6th, 2017 – LifeSiteNews – LGBT activists target Montreal company for refusing to film gay ‘wedding’ over ‘religious beliefs’
Dec. 7th, 2016 – National Post – Christie Blatchford: B.C. teacher fired for having the wrong opinion
What You Can Do:
1 – PRAY: Thank God for the many freedoms we have in Canada. Ask Him to continue to keep our land glorious and free, and pray that those who rise up against our freedom of speech, religion and conscience would instead be silenced.
Pray for the leaders at TWU and the lawyers fighting this battle on their behalf; that a precedent would be set for future challenges against freedom in Canada. To sign up to receive specific prayer alerts from Trinity Western, please sign up by clicking here.
Pray that Prime Minister Trudeau, your MP, and our entire government as a whole would be moved to maintain freedom of speech, religion and conscience in Canada.
2 – E-MAIL:
Please contact the Prime Minister and your MP to share your concerns about diminishing freedoms in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 – GIVE: If you would like to support the Trinity Western Law School financially to ensure that Godly leaders are developed in the area of Canadian law, please find out more here.