Conservatives are disturbed that the Liberal Government is proposing to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code that gives specific protections to individuals to practice their religion – regardless of what that religion may be – without fear of interference and obstruction. The Liberal Government introduced Bill C-51 as the House of Commons drew to a close in June, and I would like to draw your attention to one particularly concerning clause in the bill. Clause 14 of the new bill proposes to remove the following section of the Criminal Code:
176 (1) Everyone who
(a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function in connection with his calling, or
(b) knowing that a clergyman or minister is about to perform, is on his way to perform or is returning from the performance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a) (i) assaults or offers any violence to him, or (ii) arrests him on a civil process, or under the pretence of executing a civil process, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
(2) Everyone who wilfully disturbs or interrupts an assemblage of persons met for religious worship or for a moral, social or benevolent purpose is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(3) Everyone who, at or near a meeting referred to in subsection (2), wilfully does anything that disturbs the order or solemnity of the meeting is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
By repealing this section in Bill C-51, the Liberals will be removing the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to practice their religion free from interference and obstruction.
At a time when news stories are increasingly reporting attacks on religious communities in Canada, this proposal greatly concerns me. I have to stand up for the rights of my constituents and all Canadians to practice their religion without fear of violence or disturbance.
Canadians must be free to practice their religion without fear. The removal of these protections sets a dangerous precedent for something so important to Canadians.
Conservatives call upon the Liberal Government to stand up for the democratic rights of Canadians and support this fundamental freedom.
It’s important to let the sponsor of this bill, Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, know that Canadians are concerned about this proposal. I encourage you to contact her with your comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at:
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8