Bill C-51: the Loss of Religious Freedom in Canada

Jul 18, 2017
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Clause 14 of Canada’s Bill C-51 will remove Section 176 of the Criminal Code, and with it eliminate a law that protects clergy, and protects religious worship services from disruption.  By repealing this section, the Government will be removing the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion, whatever that religion may be.

It does so at the same time M-103, its ‘Islamophobia’ motion was passed with gusto. Critics (like me) have likened it to the introduction of a blasphemy law for Islam.

In a 1929 essay, G.K. Chesterton made the following observation:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

A sceptic might observe that the case here is worse than what Chesterton envisages.  Christians and other religions stand to lose their historic rights in Canada at the same time Muslims appear to be gaining special status.

It isn’t so much that hedges of protection are being taken down, as that the Christian hedges, ones that have historically existed alongside freedom of conscience, are being replaced by Islamic ones with no such provisions.

This ought to concern all Canadians, not just the religious.

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