No to Increasing Limitations on Free Speech, No to M-103!

TORONTO, ON February 16, 2017 – It is the mission of mandate of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) to work with the media to secure a fair hearing for Catholic positions on issues of public debate, and lobbying government and intervening in court challenges in support of law and policy compatible with a Catholic understanding of human nature and the common good.

What can be said about M-103?

The CCRL defends religious and conscientious freedom and the role of faith in the public square and we continue to maintain that a robust concept of pluralism in Canada is a key component of a healthy democracy, and of civil society.

As Catholics, we oppose defamation of our faith. But our tradition also speaks of turning the other cheek, and loving our enemies. Faith and reason go hand in hand, and Christians are unafraid of a public skirmish on faith claims. Such defamations should be exposed to the ridicule they deserve in open debate.

M-103 speaks to none of this. The motivation of the motion is suggestive of inclusion of “Islamophobia” into a hate crime, when legitimate concerns over mainstream or extreme aspects of Islam should be open to debate, and not subjected to some creeping observance of sharia law, which forbids criticism of Islam.

We abhor violence and when an act of violence claims the lives of those in a place of worship as in the brutal killings at the Islamic Centre in Quebec City we speak out in condemnation as we did in our January 30th release, “Let Us Pray For Each Other: Attacks at places of worship have no place in Canada or any civilized society.”

M-103 urges the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”. While such aims are laudable, they should not come at the expense of a healthy, if at times difficult, debate, by imposing increasing limitations on free speech.

Instead, the CCRL calls upon all levels of government and judiciary to ensure a robust understanding of authentic Canadian pluralism, which maintains freedom of conscience and religion, a component of a healthy democracy and a civil society. It remains the first freedom guaranteed in the Charter. The public square should not be eradicated of debates on faith claims. In the same fashion, such public debates should not be subjugated to the exclusion of beliefs in favour of “non-belief.”

Canada should avoid such limitations, which places one faith in a privileged position over another.


About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director
416-466-8244
@CCRLtweets