In June, the Liberal Government introduced a seemingly innocuous bill in the House of Commons, Bill C-51. However, contained within this bill was one particular clause which I and my fellow Conservatives have found very disturbing.
Clause 14 of the bill proposes to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code – a section which provides protections for clergy and parishioners partaking in religious services. If passed without amendment, Bill C-51 would remove the only explicit protection that exists in the criminal code against acts that interfere with clergy and disturb religious worship meetings. This should be alarming whether you choose to profess religious faith or not.
The Liberal Government has argued that the various elements contained in section 176 are limited to clergymen or ministers in the Christian faith, and it is not inclusive of other religious leaders.
I find their claim very misleading. There is no reason a court couldn’t use this section to protect clergy and people of ALL faiths. But even if they were correct, why choose to eliminate the section entirely instead of simply rewriting it to be both easier to prove AND more inclusive?
This, in light of the fact that back in February it was this same Liberal Government that proposed Motion M-103 which called on the government to, among other things, “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
Although I certainly agree with the condemnation of unjust discrimination toward all people of faith, I could not support this motion because it singles out Islamophobia by name. This motion certainly was not focused on inclusivity.
In response to Motion M-103, our Conservative opposition introduced a far more balanced and inclusive motion which condemns “systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities.” Sadly, every Liberal Member of Parliament in attendance voted against the more balanced and inclusive motion we put forward.
So, this begs the question; why did the Liberals support special protection for ONE group (Islam) with Motion M-103, but are now committed to repealing section 176 because they argue that it only offers special protection to ONE religion (Christians)? Who’s next?
How do Liberal MPs justify that inconsistency?
Religious freedom is one of Canada’s fundamental freedoms and the federal government should do all it can to uphold and protect it.
At a time when we’re hearing more and more about attacks on religious communities across Canada, this proposal is a step in the wrong direction. Help me keep the pressure on the Liberals to do the right thing by contacting the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, at email@example.com.