Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bill C-51

Omnibus bills are terrible.
An omnibus bill is a government bill that pulls together a variety of usually somewhat related issues. But it is also a great way to slip things in that on their own would never pass.

Bill C-51 has passed 2nd Reading and is currently before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. They meet again this afternoon (8 November 2017 at 3:30pm).

The legislation would:
  • Clarify certain aspects of sexual assault law relating to consent, admissibility of evidence and legal representation for the complainant;
  • Repeal or amend a number of provisions in the Criminal Code that have been found unconstitutional by appellate courts and other provisions that would likely be found unconstitutional;
  • Repeal several obsolete or redundant criminal offences; and
  • Require that the Minister of Justice table a Charter Statement in Parliament for every new government bill, setting out the bill’s potential effects on Charter rights and freedoms.
These are all good changes. Although there is much debate over whether the changes to aspects of sexual assault law really will make much difference.

However, Clause 14 of Bill C-51 would remove Section 176 of the Criminal Code which states:
176 (1) Every one 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.
Disturbing religious worship or certain meetings
(2) Every one 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. 

This change will reduce protection for worshippers and places of worship at a time when hate crimes against religious communities in Canada are on the rise.
EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) has more on this here.
I encourage you to write / email / call your MP and ask them to maintain protection for the free expression of faith in Canada. 
I have contacted my MP Bruce Stanton, Simcoe North & he will "work to convince the government to back down on these changes."

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