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1 14th March 17:01
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A Private Member's Bill introduced by NDP MP Svend Robinson passed
second reading in the House of Commons on May 29, 2002, and was
referred to the House of Commons Justice Committee for review.

We believe that this Bill will have grave, long-range implications for
freedom of religion and for pro-family and faith based organizations
in Canada.

Background to the Bill

Bill C-415 was introduced by self-acknowledged homo***ual Svend
Robinson, NDP MP for Burnaby-Douglas, on November 22, 2001. It was
selected as a votable Bill and it came up for second reading on May
29, 2002. The Bill expands the identifiable groups in the Criminal
Code protected against genocide (Section 318) and hate propaganda
(Section 319) to include those identified by their ***ual orientation.
Currently, the identifiable groups referred to in these sections of
the public are distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic

There are no defences to protect anyone from prosecution under S.318
(genocide) of the Criminal Code.

However, anyone communicating statements alleged to be wilfully
promoting hatred against an identifiable group (S.319) may be
protected from prosecution on the basis of the following legal

1. If the statements are true;

2. If the statements communicated in good faith are made, by argument
and opinion, upon a religious subject;

3. If the statements are relevant to any subject of public interest,
the discussion of which is for the public benefit; and

4. If the statement is intended for the purpose of removal of matters
tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group.

Proceedings under S.318 (genocide) or S.319 (hate propaganda) of the
Criminal Code cannot be instituted without the consent of the Attorney

Concerns about Bill C-415

1. All crimes of hate offend the ideals of freedom of expression and
freedom of speech.

It may be difficult to argue, however, the unacceptability of this
amendment because that freedom of expression and speech is not an
absolute right. Most would agree that there should be some
restrictions on free speech, for example, such as those applying to
paedophiles and child ****ographers. S.15 of the Charter of Rights
already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of
***ual orientation (which was "read into" that section by the Supreme
Court of Canada in 1995 in the Nesbit and Egan case). The Federal
Human Rights Act was also amended in 1996 to include protection on the
basis of ***ual orientation.

That is, homo***ual activists have, step-by-step, gradually gained an
increasing range of rights by way of court challenges which have led
to legislation, such as the Federal Human Rights Act, and the former
Bill C-23, which provided for financial benefits for same-***

It is difficult, therefore, from a political, although not from a
moral perspective, to argue against providing protection on the basis
of ***ual orientation in regard to S.318 (genocide) and S.319 (hate
propaganda). In short, since ***ual orientation is already a protected
right in S.15 of the Charter, because of the reading in of this right
by the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as, for example, the
amendments by Parliament to the legislation to include protection for
***ual orientation, it is now much more difficult to oppose Bill

2. The genocide section of the Criminal Code (S.318) provides no
defence against prosecution on the basis of religious belief, and this
poses a problem for a number of common publications, including the
Bible. For example, the words in Leviticus have already been
successfully argued in the Saskatchewan Human Rights case of Hugh
Owens (now on appeal), that it endangers and causes harm to
homo***uals. (See Reality, September/October, 1999, p.6.)
Consequently, if this proposed amendment in Bill C-415 is passed into
law, individuals could be subject to costly prosecutions, and
religious publications could potentially be subject to censorship or
even prohibition.

3. There is no doubt that the Charter protection of "freedom of
religion" is being shoved back and narrowed by the courts so that
freedom of religion may be only safely exercised within the four walls
of a church and its institutions, and only acceptable in limited
cir***stances in the public square. Examples of such court decisions,
to this effect, include the case in Ontario of Christian printer,
Scott Brockie, who was held in violation of the Ontario Human Rights
Code for refusing to print materials for a homo***ual organization. On
appeal, the Ontario Divisional Court, stated in a confusing decision
(see "Courts Mixed Message to Christian Printer Brockie", p. 21),that
Mr. Brockie had the right to refuse to print material that infringes
his conscience or religion or that ridiculed his religious beliefs.
However, the court noted that he could not refuse a request to print
letterhead, business cards or a directory of goods and services of
interest to the *** and ******* community, since the latter was
considered only peripheral to or on the fringes of his religious
freedoms since the material did not go to the "core" of his religious
belief. This is a confused decision indeed.

Another such example is that of London Mayor, Diane Haskett, who was
found in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1997 for her
refusal to declare a *** Pride Day because of her Christian beliefs. A
further example is the ruling by Madame Justice Saunders in the BC
Supreme Court, in the Surrey School Board case (see Reality
January/February 1999, p.5) where she concluded that religious belief
could not be applied by those holding public office. This decision was
overturned by the BC Court of Appeal and was argued, on appeal, before
the Supreme Court of Canada on June 12, 2002. (The judgment has been
reserved.) The Trinity Western case ( Reality September/October, 2000,
p.1, "Religious Views Recognized") also gives cause for concern since
the Supreme Court of Canada held that freedom of religion in the
Charter is not an absolute right. In effect, it stated that one is
entitled to hold religious beliefs, but that one may not necessarily
act or speak about them (as in a classroom). In short, the Trinity
case appears to reinforce the notion that religious belief is a
private matter only, permitted within a church or the home, but not in
one's public actions or expressions.

4. Bill C-415, if passed into law, will be a useful tool for organized
homo***ual rights activists to intimidate their adversaries. An
article published on May 13, 2002 in the Quebec City newspaper, Le
Soleil, sets out the international objectives of homo***ual activists.
The article states that the next step on the homo***ual agenda is to
prevent individuals and churches from discriminating against
homo***uals by seeking refuge behind a screen of religious principles.
This very argument was placed before the court in May by homo***ual
activists in regard to the complaint by Marc Hall, a student in a
Catholic high school in Oshawa, Ontario, who was refused permission by
the Catholic School Board to bring his homo***ual partner to the
school prom.

Homo***ual activists jumped on the case to successfully argue that the
beliefs of a Catholic school - which has had a protected right to
uphold its religious beliefs under the Constitution since
Confederation - could not take precedence over homo***ual rights. That
is, the Court concluded that homo***ual rights take priority over
religious freedom in Canada.

Mr. Robinson's Bill may well result in the closing down of full debate
on the homo***ual issue because of the vulnerability it creates for
pro-family and religious organizations opposed to the promotion of
homo***uality. In fact, this may well be one of the main objectives of
Mr. Robinson's Bill. Although pro-family and religious organizations
have available to them the legal defences enumerated in S.319 of the
Criminal Code, on charges of promotion of hate, such groups,
nonetheless, will be required to undergo both costly court challenges
and adverse publicity in order to defend their statements against
certain homo***ual lifestyle and practices.

5. The requirement in S.318 (genocide) and S.319 (hate propaganda) of
the Code, that proceedings must be instigated with the consent of the
Attorneys General, will not necessarily provide protection against
prosecution. The provincial Attorneys General have already indicated
their reluctance to resist pressure from certain homo***ual rights
activists. Examples include the Ontario Attorney General's failure in
the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada's case M and H (Reality, May/June
1999, "A Tale of Judicial Prejudice", p.1) to argue that there was no
evidence of discrimination against homo***uals and *******s pursuant
to S.15 of the Charter. Instead, the Ontario Attorney General relied
only on S.1 of the Charter, arguing that the discrimination was a
reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. By doing so, the
government, in effect, tossed the case away. More recently, the
Ontario Attorney General failed to support the common-law definition
of marriage in the Ontario same-*** marriage challenge last November.
Another example is the Alberta Attorney General's withdrawal from the
legal challenge by a ******* couple that wanted to adopt a child. In
short, the provincial Attorneys General appear to be remarkably
vulnerable to political pressure by homo***ual activists and/or
sympathetic to their demands.

Even if proceedings are not directly instigated against a
pro-life/family organization or a religious institution, it is clear
that, inevitably, if the proposed amendment becomes law, it will have
a chilling effect on public debate. In this regard, homo***ual
activists regard any objections to their agenda as "hateful", and this
amendment will markedly reduce, for example, such activities as
letters to the editor by citizens. In fact, even without a law, such
as that proposed in Bill C-415, it appears that organizations opposed
to the promotion of homo***uality are already facing difficulties in
regard to freedom of expression. An excellent example of this is the
difficulty experienced by pro-family groups in regard to the Royal
Bank of Canada, which refused to permit the opening of a bank account
because of a group's opposition to the *** Games to be held in
Montreal in 2006. (See Reality March/April 2002, "Royal Bank
Officially Confirms its Policy of Discrimination", p.1.) In that case,
pro-family groups experienced discrimination by the Royal Bank of
Canada, even though there was no law in place, such as that proposed
by Bill C-415, to provide support for such a position.

How Bill C-415 Passed Second Reading

It is widely known that since Confederation, Private Members' Bills
have seldom passed second reading to become law. This has been
especially true since the Liberal government assumed power under Prime
Minister Chretién in 1993.

The Confusion in Parliament

Representatives of REAL Women were present in the Members Gallery of
the House of Commons when Bill C-415 was debated on second reading on
Wednesday, May 29, 2002. We were dismayed to see, however, that within
an hour (even though three hours had been scheduled for debate), the
Bill was successfully whipped through to pass second reading, after
which it was referred to the Justice Committee for review.

At that time, MP Vic Toews, the Alliance Justice Critic, did speak to
the Bill, raising some objections to it. His objections, however, were
not based on the objective of the Bill, which is to include ***ual
orientation as one of the identifiable groups protected in the
Criminal Code S.318 (genocide) and S.319 (hate propaganda). Instead,
Mr. Toews raised two other objections to the Bill. His first objection
was that the Bill did not go far enough. He recommended that it be
expanded to include other groups as set out in S.15 of the Charter of
Rights, including groups protected on the basis of age and mental and
physical handicap. Of course, the application of S.15 as he suggested,
would also include those who are protected because of their ***ual
orientation as "read in" by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1995 in the
Nesbitt and Egan case. His other objection was that Mr. Robinson's
Bill should have included in S.318 (genocide) the defences as set out
in S.319 (hate propaganda). These defences regrettably, as stated
above, are illusionary rather than real.

At the end of his speech, Mr. Toews, accompanied by MP Larry Spencer,
(Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre) Alliance Family Critic, who was on House
Duty that day, left the Chamber. There were only two Alliance members
remaining in the Chamber when the vote on Bill C-415 was called. Those
observing the proceedings report that the two Alliance MPs did not
vote against the Bill.

The Conservative party spokesman, MP John Herron (Fundy-Royal NB)
stated that his party supported the Bill. MP Serge Marcil,
(Beauharnois - Salaberry), Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Industry, Allan Rock, then stated that he believed the Bill had merit
and should be referred to Committee for discussion and review. He also
stated that the Bill had the support of the Minister of Justice.

During his speech, Mr. Marcil made the interesting observation that
adding ***ual orientation to the criteria used to define "identifiable
groups" would expand the usual meaning of genocide, which normally
applies to a race or a people.

Record in Hansard

What was not reported in Hansard was that during the debate, Liberal
House Leader, Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West - Nepean) crossed the
floor of the House of Commons and had a private discussion with Mr.
Robinson. She then left the Chamber, but returned shortly to again
confer with Mr. Robinson. Ms. Catterall then returned to her side of
the House to confer with her Liberal colleagues. When the Speaker
called for a vote from the scanty number of MPs present in the House
(no more than 15 MPs), the Bill passed second reading with no dissent.
When the vote was over, Mr. Robinson crossed the floor to Ms.
Catterall and enthusiastically thanked her for her party's support of
his Bill.

It is likely that the Liberals seized the opportunity to support this
controversial Bill (which they were obviously in agreement with
anyway) in the hope that the Alliance would oppose the Bill and, as a
result come under heavy media attack for its alleged "homophobic"
position. This would remove the media heat from the Liberals raging
because of alleged corruption charges and internal dissent caused by
the leadership rivalry between Paul Martin and PM Jean Chrétien.
Certainly, the Liberals are in support of the Bill, and were
undoubtedly delighted to have the NDP propose it, which lets the
Liberals off the hook should there be any political fallout arising
from this controversial Bill.

This may have been the reason why the Alliance Justice Critic Toews
decided against objecting to the Bill on the basis of ***ual
orientation and the further extension of rights to homo***uals, but
chose instead to object to it on other grounds in order to preserve
the Alliance from media attack. He, nonetheless, failed to object to
the Bill on the grounds that it gave special advantages and rights to

Confusing Parliamentary Procedure

What is very clear to REAL Women is that very few individuals, MPs
included, have a firm understanding of the ever-changing rules of
parliamentary procedure. For example, Private Members' Bills were, up
until recently, deemed to be "votable bills" only on the approval of
all the parties, i.e. the political parties in the House of Commons
had a veto over which Private Members' Bills were to be deemed
votable. To REAL Women's surprise, however, somewhere along the line,
this rule was changed, and now apparently, only a "consensus" among
the parties is required to make a Private Member's Bill votable. The
federal Liberals, it should be noted, agreed in June, that in the
future, all Private Members' Bills will be regarded as votable bills.

There is also some discrepancy as to whether the Alliance MPs
remaining in the House of Commons at the time of a vote on second
reading actually opposed this Bill on May 29, 2002. According to
Hansard, on that date (p.11908), there were no objections raised to
the Bill and it was, therefore, passed into second reading without
dissent. This is verified by the REAL Women members observing the
debate from the Member Gallery. However, Alliance officials insist
that the Speaker was in error when she failed to acknowledge
opposition to the Bill. The Alliance claims that it did object to the
Bill. Recognizing that Hansard did not actually record this, the
Alliance officials claim they corrected the House of Commons Journal,
which is essentially the minutes of the House of Commons, to show
there was opposition to the Bill. (Hansard, being a transcript of what
was actually said, cannot be changed in order to correct an error in
procedure) so who knows?

Compounding the confusion and, obviously anxious to dispel any
misunderstanding among its supporters on whether it actually opposed
the Bill, John Reynolds, Alliance House Leader, on June 20, 2002,
stated in the House of Commons that the official "journals" of the
House of Commons had recorded the Alliance as agreeing to the Bill
when the party was opposed to the Bill.

Whatever the case, REAL Women does believe that this Bill was
inadequately dealt with by the Alliance Party, which should have
stopped it or at least delayed it long before it reached the danger
zone of second reading. It is no accident, for example, that pro-life
Private Members' Bills, such as those of Alliance MP, Gary Breitkreuz
(Yorkton-Melville), die a startlingly quick and early death on the
Order Paper and are absolutely never deemed "votable". The Alliance
could also have delayed the vote on second reading by ensuring that
there were sufficient speakers in the Chamber to fill the three hours
allotted for debate. This would have put the vote on second reading
over to the fall session and, as a result, would have allowed family
and religious based organizations some breathing space to organize
resistance to the Bill.

To put Private Members' Bills in perspective, there were 237 Private
Members' Bills introduced in this Parliament and only two of them made
it to second reading. That is, less than 1%. Why then, did this highly
controversial Bill by MP Svend Robinson, survive the parliamentary
hoops to successfully pass second reading?

On the other hand, it is clear that the Liberal Party supports this
Bill as the Liberal votes led to its successful passing on second
reading. The Liberal Party holds the majority of seats in the House of
Commons and it could have blocked the Bill if it had wished to do so.
The Liberal Party should be severely criticized for its support of
this Bill. Similarly, the trendy "unconservative" party of Joe Clark,
which also supported this Bill, should be criticized for such a stand.

What Happens Now

Since both the Justice Committee and the House of Commons are
dominated by the Liberal Party, it would appear that the Liberals will
allow this Bill to pass into law when the House of Commons resumes
sitting in the fall. Even if Parliament should prorogue (end the
session), Bill C-415 will not die on the Order Paper. According to
(yet again) new Parliamentary rules (Standing Order [S.O.86.1]), a
Private Member's Bill, once in Committee, as is Bill C-415, at the
time Parliament prorogues, remains safely in Committee. As a result,
when Parliament resumes sitting in September, the Committee will
continue its review of the Bill unabated.

This is a very dangerous and troubling situation, and a tremendous
threat to religious belief and freedom of expression in Canada.

It is absolutely imperative that individuals, churches and pro-family
organizations be made aware of this Bill. The media have remained
suspiciously silent about it. It is up to us to make the public aware

and opinion in Canada.

The situation is dire. The reality of this Bill is too serious to fail
to respond to it. Therefore, we must urge everyone to take action on
this Bill. Please let your church and your friends know about its

Also, please arrange to have letters inundate both the government and
individual MPs to let them know, in no uncertain terms, about your
opposition to Bill C-415. Please do whatever you can to ensure that
individuals, churches and others also appear as witnesses before the
Justice Committee to express their concern about the Bill. (All
expenses are covered.) The more witnesses who oppose this Bill, the
more likely it is that amendments will be made.

Please write to:

The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, PC, MP
Prime Minister's Office
80 Wellington St., 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Tel. (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900

The Hon. Martin Cauchon, PC, MP
Minister of Justice
Justice Building
284 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Tel: (613) 992-4621
Fax: (613) 990-7255

Mr. Stephen Harper, CA, MP
Alliance Party Leader
Centre Block, Room 409S
111 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 996-9740
Fax: (613) 947-0310

The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, MP
Conservative Party Leader
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 995-1561
Fax: 613) 995-1862

Mr. Vic Toews, CA, MP
Alliance Justice Critic
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 996-6130
Fax: (613) 995-1049

Your MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
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