Closed secularism breeds intolerance

Divorcing a spiritual practice from its religious meaning is problematic and a forcible whitewashing of something deeply and fundamentally complex

Closed secularism breeds intoleranceBy David Hunt and Brian Dijkema Cardus Most court decisions are a zero-sum game. One side’s win is the other’s loss. But this was not the result recently at the B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. Both sides, and the public, lost in Servatius versus Alberni School District No. 70. One side wanted smudging ceremonies and…

Why Christmas matters in a secular society

Its message of goodwill towards all people is ultimately in the best interest of a multicultural society

Why Christmas matters in a secular societyWe go to extremes to avoid the religious aspects of Christmas in the public sphere, and we are worse for it. Christian beliefs about Christmas might offend someone in our secular and multicultural society, so we ignore its religious and historical background. The reluctance to mention the origins of this much-loved holiday permeates early childhood…

A respectful Canada has room for disagreement

Closing politics and public life to those who are religious leaves us with a less tolerant society that brings fundamental freedoms into question

A respectful Canada has room for disagreementDisagreement is normal, if not necessary, in a healthy democracy. Being intolerant and disrespectful toward those with whom we disagree, however, is fatal to that democracy. Historically, Canadians have had the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and the Bill of Rights before it) for protection. That’s especially important for racial, religious, political or sexual minorities,…

Where’s the outcry over Quebec’s restrictive Bill 21?

The relatively low value Canadians assign to religious freedom and the tepid opposition to secularism laws are worrisome

Where’s the outcry over Quebec’s restrictive Bill 21?Have we lost all sense of proportion when it comes to our fundamental rights in Canada? Two recent cases suggest we have. Both cases involve the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which allows legislatures to temporarily bypass certain constitutionally-protected rights. Two premiers have sought to invoke the much-discussed clause recently. Yet…

We need to discuss the darker side of some Muslim tenets

People everywhere should be able to worship as they please or not worship at all

We need to discuss the darker side of some Muslim tenetsThe massacre of Muslims at prayer in New Zealand on March 15 is yet another appalling example of the horrors of extreme hatred. In this case, the mass murderer was a deluded white supremacist. Other recently targeted victims have been Jews at worship in Pittsburgh, or just anyone who chose to come to the wrong…

Quebec bill shows a deep desire to push people around

Banning the wearing of religious clothing robs public servants of the right to make their own choices

Quebec bill shows a deep desire to push people aroundLegislative hearings on outlawing the wearing of religious clothing or symbols by specific Quebec public servants could easily be dismissed as proverbial lipstick on a pig.  In fact, they’re worse, much worse, than a skin-deep brush with porcine cosmetology. They are part of a calculated exploitation of the deep human spiritual need to push other…

Religious freedom benefits everyone

But hard secularism and the marginalization of some Canadians are reducing our deep pluralism and chipping away at our freedoms

Religious freedom benefits everyoneIt’s a safe bet that Asia Bibi – a Christian woman recently acquitted of blasphemy charges in Pakistan but still facing mob violence – would say religious freedom makes Canada a better country. Indeed, it’s because Canada enjoys religious freedom that this country may even grant her asylum. Chances are that Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Burma or…

Make room for religious diversity in the workplace

Banning Quebec frontline civil servants from wearing religious symbols would show obstinate and dangerous secularism

Make room for religious diversity in the workplaceBanning Quebec frontline civil servants from wearing religious symbols, as premier-designate François Legault intends to do, would be socially regressive. Imposing this kind of flinty and obstinate secularism squashes the very diversity most politicians claim to value and support. It’s also out of step with the growing awareness among the business community that religious diversity…

Denying TWU’s bid for a law school was the right decision

But why were so many provincial law societies silent in the face of clear LGBTQ discrimination?

Denying TWU’s bid for a law school was the right decisionIn a society that prizes the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution, sorting through what to do when rights collide can be challenging. The Supreme Court of Canada recently dealt with that very issue. The Supreme Court protected the dignity of LGBTQ people in Canada and the integrity of the legal profession…

Freedom of religion disappearing in Canada

What we have in its place is a gospel of the secular, as interpreted by unelected judges and a feminist prime minister

Freedom of religion disappearing in CanadaFreedom of religion is guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter has taken two major blows recently – one from a policy change implemented by the federal government, the second from the Supreme Court of Canada. The first blow came when the government announced that any group wishing to…

Compelled speech compromises basic rights

If the Canada Summer Jobs precedent holds, soon other government agencies will mix public funds and political preferences

Compelled speech compromises basic rightsIn a crucial free speech ruling recently, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the constitution in that country prohibits forcing people to say what they don’t believe. Here in Canada, a young Ottawa lawyer upped the ante recently by filing a Federal Court lawsuit arguing that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right…

Conform or else: the Trudeau government’s dictat on free speech

Is it overreach for governments to expect people to bow to official policy in all things? After all, we elected them to lead us

Conform or else: the Trudeau government’s dictat on free speechThe federal government has initiated a new ideological vetting of applicants for its summer job program for students. The organizations nominating students for summer grants, and the students and their parents, must declare that they conform to government of Canada policy. An unusual number of students have been rejected by the government. Considerable adverse comment…

Will the Supreme Court uphold our liberty to dissent?

The Trinity Western University case represents one of the most important religious freedom decisions of the past 20 years

Will the Supreme Court uphold our liberty to dissent?On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will release its ruling in the Trinity Western University case. Until the judgment is made public, of course, no one knows which way the court might swing. For all who’ve tracked the dispute’s progress through the legal process, however, it stands to be among the most important religious…

The hollow gestures of an overreaching government

The Trudeau government’s aspirations to mandate equality, diversity and inclusion must be open for discussion, not just blindly accepted

The hollow gestures of an overreaching governmentI seem to have a penchant for seeking out protests – not necessarily to participate but to observe, to soak in the screams, the worn-out chants, the always amusing soundbite slogans. This particular demonstration, while not well attended, took place in front of the Supreme Court of Canada. The “anti-capitalist” rally and march in support…

No-go zones around abortion clinics are unconstitutional

Free societies don’t dictate the correct answers to difficult questions, nor protect people from discomfort over their choices

No-go zones around abortion clinics are unconstitutionalAlberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman recently claimed that banning peaceful anti-abortion protests near abortion clinics is not about freedom of expression. Yet she has also expressed confidence that her new law would withstand a constitutional challenge. By speaking of a constitutional challenge, it seems that she knows that this new law tramples on free expression…