Canada Stifles Religious Freedom
The Canadian Charter explicitly guarantees “freedom of religion and conscience.” Guarantee, shmarantee. Canadian law is fast becoming intolerant to religious liberty by forcing its citizens to choose between their careers and their faith.
Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an important column that illustrates precisely how officially anti-religion Canada is becoming. Avi Schick writes about a bill that just passed the National Assembly of Quebec, which would prohibit public workers from wearing any religious symbol or article of clothing while on the job. Schick explains the bill’s import:
Advocates say the bill promotes the separation of church and state. In reality, the law suggests that religious practice is incompatible with public service, that people of faith cannot be trusted to balance their religious beliefs and civic responsibilities, and that employees must choose between their consciences and careers. Public employees won’t be the only ones affected: If the government won’t hire someone who wears a turban or crucifix, why would a private business?
Quebec’s stifling of religious expression is becoming the rule in Canada, rather than the exception. I have written here about how the Ontario Court of Appeals has ruled that all doctors must abort, euthanize, provide transgender interventions or any other legal medical procedure — or find a doctor who will, called an “effective referral.” In other words, Ontario forces doctors to take human life or provide services he or she might consider mutilating, even if the doctor considers it an egregious sin — either that, or be ghettoized into areas of practice such as podiatry in which no such requests are likely to be made. And if they don’t like that, as one judge put it, they can get out of medicine altogether. Do you see the pattern?
Last year, in British Columbia, a private Christian university sought to open a law school, in which students would be expected to conduct themselves consistently with the faith’s moral precepts. Because of this, it was denied accreditation. From, “Canada Attacks Religious Freedom,” by Bob Kuhn, also in the Wall Street Journal:
The Law Society of Upper Canada, the nation’s oldest and largest, told the high court in Ottawa during oral arguments on Nov. 30, 2017, that accrediting any “distinctly religious” organization would violate the Canadian Charter, which is similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights. It added that when the government licenses a private organization it adopts all its policies as its own. If these arguments had been accepted, they would have spelled the end of Canada’s nonprofit sector. In their zeal to root out the supposed bigotry of traditional religious believers, these lawyers were prepared to dynamite Canada’s entire civil society.
Thankfully the court passed over some of our opponents’ more extreme arguments. Instead, on June 15 it ruled that making Trinity’s faith-based community standards mandatory could harm the dignity of members of the LGBT community who attend Trinity. The majority of the court concluded that this potential dignitary harm to future LGBT law students was “concrete,” while the infringement on Trinity’s religious liberty from refusing to accredit its qualified law program was “minimal.”
By actively suppressing the liberty of its religious minorities and marginalizing the Charter’s explicit protections in this regard, Canada no longer qualifies as a free country.
Rancid anti-religiosity is bursting out here too. Witness the explosion of rage when the Trump administration promulgated a rule that merely requires the government to actually enforce all religious conscience protections currently contained in federal law. Witness that “Medicare for All” would force doctors to perform abortions and transgender procedures, if asked. Good grief, witness the continual and unremitting legal attacks on the Colorado cake baker. Does anyone think that the Democrat presidential contenders on stage the last two nights debating wouldn’t all eagerly follow Canada’s lead?
True civil libertarians stand up for freedoms in which they have no personal skin in the game. Clearly, most of today’s leftists and secularists are not civil libertarians. That is something to ponder seriously when the time comes to vote.
WESLEY J. SMITH is an author and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human