Statement on Quebec Bill 21 to Remove Religious Symbols from Quebec Public Sector Workers

Toronto, ON April 5, 2019 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) notes with regret last week’s introduction of proposed legislation to force all religious symbols to be removed by specific public sector workers in the province of Quebec. The League is not terribly surprised by the demands of the Legault Coalition Avenir government, but remains disappointed with the proposal, which is likely to pass given its legislative majority. It was not long ago, in 2015, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck out a short affirmative prayer at the commencement of council meetings in the town of Saguenay, over the objections of an atheist activist. We commented how this ruling would serve as a wedge to demand further demands to have the public square adopt more stringent demands against all religious viewpoints, to advance the “naked” public square, the 1984 phrase coined by the late Canadian commentator, Father Richard John Neuhaus. Here is what we said a short 4 years ago: Mr. Justice Gascon cited the previous ruling of the Quebec Court of Appeal, which had decided in favour of a notion of “benevolent neutrality” in the Saguenay case: The duty of neutrality must be complied with in a manner that is consistent with society’s heritage and traditions, and with the state’s duty to preserve its history (para. 69). Protection of the diversity of beliefs must be reconciled with the cultural reality of society, which includes its religious heritage (para. 72). The Quebec court further held that the interference with Mr. Simoneau’s freedom, if any, was trivial or insubstantial in the case of both the prayer and the...

Déclaration sur le projet de loi 21 au Québec visant à supprimer les symboles religieux des travailleurs du secteur public québécois

Toronto, ON 3 avril 2019 – La Ligue catholique des droits humains (LCDH) note avec regret la présentation, la semaine dernière, d’un projet de loi visant à obliger certains travailleurs du secteur public à enlever tout symbole religieux. La Ligue n’est pas très étonnée des exigences du gouvernement Legault de la Coalition avenir Québec, mais est néanmoins déçue par la proposition qui risque d’être adoptée, compte tenu de la majorité législative du parti. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, en 2015, que la Cour suprême du Canada a radié une courte prière affirmative au début des séances du conseil municipal de la ville de Saguenay à cause des objections d’un activiste athée. Nous avions expliqué que cette décision marquerait le commencement de revendications plus strictes contre les points de vue religieux divers, dans le but de promouvoir un espace public «nu», selon l’expression inventée en 1984 par le regretté commentateur canadien Richard A. Neuhaus. Voici ce que nous avions dit il y a 4 ans: Le juge Gascon a cité le jugement précédent de la Cour d’appel du Québec, qui s’était prononcée en faveur d’une notion de «neutralité bienveillante» dans l’affaire Saguenay: Le devoir de neutralité doit être respecté d’une manière qui soit compatible avec le patrimoine et les traditions de la société et avec le devoir de l’État de préserver son histoire (par. 69). La protection de la diversité des croyances doit être réconciliée avec la réalité culturelle de la société, qui comprend son patrimoine religieux (par. 72). La cour du Québec a également conclu que l’impact sur la liberté de M. Simoneau, s’il y en avait un,...

The CCRL Participates In Ontario Court of Appeal with Oral Arguments in Support of Physicians’ Conscience Rights

Toronto, ON January 25, 2019 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) participated with oral arguments in the CMDS et al v. CPSO hearing at the Ontario Court of Appeal on January 21 and 22. Individual Catholic and Christian doctors and organizations had challenged the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which over the course of the past three years had stipulated an “effective referral” regime, forcing Ontario doctors who objected to morally objectionable procedures to provide an “effective referral” to a willing doctor for such services.  Previously, doctors were relieved from any such obligation.  Ontario is the only provincial or territorial jurisdiction which has made such demands of its doctors. The Ontario Divisional Court had ruled in favour of the CPSO, on January 31, 2018, despite finding that the religious freedom of doctors had been infringed.  The appellants and the League, in conjunction with the Faith and Freedom Alliance and the Protection of Conscience Project, had argued that such “effective referrals” made objecting doctors complicit in the provision of the objectionable procedures, such as abortion, or assisted suicide.  The previous court decision allowed the infringement as a modest incursion into the rights of physicians, in the context of the ability of patients to access publicly available “services”.  Moreover, the court previously ruled that objecting physicians could re-arrange their practice specialties to “accommodate” such referrals. The doctors and their respective organizations appealed. In addition to the arguments presented by the lawyers for the appellants, the CCRL and its partners raised the particular arguments that such demands were in breach of the conscience rights of Ontario doctors, as...

No Victory in Government’s Re-Working of Canada Summer Jobs Application

Toronto, ON December 7, 2018 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) responded today to the revised Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) application process, as announced by federal Labour minister Patty Hajdu. In brief, the new application process remains sadly deficient. The government has moved from an attestation requirement, or forced speech, by having to check a box in support of its views on “reproductive health”, which included unfettered access to abortion at all stages or its views on gender ideology, to a new requirement. It now seeks applicants to confirm that it will not engage in certain “proposed activities” in respect of otherwise legitimate beliefs with which the current government disagrees. The Minister’s new demands continue a suppression of viewpoints not shared by the government, for which funding will continue to be denied to groups that disagree. The federal Liberals are effectively establishing a “bubble zone” to prevent funding to organizations who do not share its unfettered pro-abortion position. The government maintains a false impression that there is a “right to safe and legal abortion”. It does not exist as part of either the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or in case law. While Labour minister Patty Hajdu proposed to accommodate faith-based groups, that accommodation effectively shuts out their core positions as unacceptable. This is no victory for the unborn. The government has simply changed the eligibility criteria so that organizations will be denied funding if they stand for prolife positions. The new wording of the 2019 application makes clear that grants will not be allocated if used to “undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.”...

The CCRL will Intervene at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Physicians’ Conscience Rights Case

Toronto, ON November 15, 2018 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) is pleased to announce that on October 1 our application to intervene in the appeal of the Ontario Divisional Court decision in the case CMDS et al v. CPSO was accepted. This case concerns the conscience and religious rights of Ontario doctors who refuse to participate in morally objectionable procedures, such as euthanasia or abortion. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) stipulated an “effective referral” regime requiring that they ensure provision of such services by another doctor, which we argue makes them complicit in the provision of the objectionable procedure. On November 13, our factum, prepared in conjunction with the Faith and Freedom Alliance (FFA) and the Protection of Conscience Project was submitted. Click here to view it. The League’s submission is focused on what has been a relatively ignored provision of the Charter, freedom of conscience, as distinct from freedom of religion, for which the appellants and other groups are focused. 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. To donate to the CCRL, please click here. For further information: Christian Domenic Elia, PhD CCRL Executive Director 416-466-8244 @CCRLtweets  ...

Trinity Western University Drops the Mandatory Requirement of the Community Covenant

Toronto, ON August 16, 2018 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) acknowledges the Trinity Western University (TWU) decision to no longer require students to sign its Community Covenant as an inevitable compromise that removes a point of contention that will now hopefully lead to the actual pursuit of a Christian law school. The TWU board of governors released the following statement effective August 9 In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University. Robert G. Kuhn, president of TWU, stated that TWU, “will remain a Biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent University, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles.” He noted that staff and faculty would still be required to comply with the Community Covenant. The League notes that the change to the TWU policy comes following the 7-2 decision of the Supreme Court on June 15, upholding decisions of two law societies in refusing accreditation of future TWU law school graduates, based on the Community Covenant’s assertions on traditional marriage. It is hoped that TWU will proceed eventually with its application to open a law school, which will serve both Christian students and other stakeholders, by infusing the study of law with Christian witness, as in other professional faculties at TWU. The addition of law school focused on pro bono and smaller legal practice environments would fill a...