Toronto, ON July 18, 2017 – Catholic Christians and indeed all people of faith must be wary of the Liberal government’s intentions to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code through Bill C-51. The bill, which has cleared second reading aims to remove redundant laws and those which have been found to be contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 176, however, has never been challenged and it is far from redundant, having been used as recently as June of this year in the laying of charges against a woman who entered St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa screaming and causing damage to a statue.

Section 176 prohibits obstructing a minister who is performing a religious ceremony. It further prohibits disturbing an assembly and disturbing the order or solemnity of a meeting.

The CCRL sees no reason for the deletion of section 176, given numerous examples over the years of illegal interruptions of religious services. The reticence to bring charges when these disruptions occur is an insufficient basis to remove the provisions from the Criminal Code.

The government is only beginning to hear from their constituents on this issue. The government is sending the wrong message, in undervaluing the need for specific protection in law on religious services.

Section 175, causing a disturbance, would remain in force, however section 175 would not necessarily apply to jarring disturbances such as rushing the altar, toppling the chalice, desecrating hosts, desecrating the Eucharist, throwing hymnals, stamping feet in protest, blocking parishioners from entering, heckling a homily, upturning the altar, etc.

What about threats to Jews in synagogues? Muslims in mosques?

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) asks the Trudeau government why they find it necessary to weaken the protection of Canadians in their places of worship.

The League had asked two years ago why the Liberal government eliminated the Office of Religious Freedoms which fought to defend freedom of religion abroad.

It seems as if the Liberal government in Canada finds many things about religion and faith to be redundant.


About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ( 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