Call to Defend Religious Freedom in Canada

I believe it is important to share my concerns with Liberal Bill C-51 and provide Canadians with a means in which you can voice your concerns.

Recently, the Liberal Government introduced Bill C-51, legislation intended to streamline the Criminal Code of Canada by removing certain provisions that have either been struck down by the courts or otherwise no longer have any relevance in contemporary society. While I generally agree with many of the revisions, I would like to draw your attention to one clause in Bill C-51 that is a basis for apprehension. Clause 14 of the proposed legislation removes the following section of the Criminal Code:

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.

(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.

(3) Every one 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, the Government will be removing the only provision in the Criminal Code that specifically protects the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion, whatever that religion may be, from obstruction, violence or disturbance.

Statistics Canada indicates that over 33% of reported hate crimes in Canada were motivated by hatred of religion. Repealing Section 176 removes valuable protection for faith leaders and assemblies, as well as sets a dangerous precedent on a matter so important to Canadians.

At a time when there are increased reports of attacks on religious communities in Canada, explicit protections are necessary. All Canadians have the right to practice their religion without fear of recrimination, violence, or disturbance.

When the House of Commons returns for the fall sitting in September, Bill C-51 is expected to come up for review. The consideration of a Bill at committee stage is one of the most effective opportunities to make your views known to the government and individual members of parliament on the committee.

My office has already sent letters to every church and religious organization in our riding, alerting them to this issue and encouraging them to address their concerns directly with Government. Because I believe this is such a fundamental right, we are encouraging all Canadians to make your voice known by doing any of the following:

1. Contact the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights by letter mail or email:

Standing Committee on Justice and Humand Rights
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
JUST@parl.gc.ca

2. Contact the Minister of Justice by letter mail or email:

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Jody.wilson-raybould@parl.gc.ca

3. Sign Petition e-1192:

Sponsored by MP Tom Kimiec, the petition calls on the government to abandon any attempt to repeal Section 176 of the Criminal Code and stand up for the rights of all Canadians to practice their religion without fear of recrimination, violence or disturbance. Click here

4. Contact your own Member of Parliament:

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Please copy our office on any correspondence you send.

Email: Glen.Motz@parl.gc.ca

Address: #306 2810 – 13th Ave. SE Medicine Hat, AB T1A 3P9

Glen Motz, MP

Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner