Wiccan BC Prison Chaplains Nixed By Vic Toews

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VANCOUVER - The Correction Service of Canada won't proceed with plans to hire a Wiccan to minister to inmates in British Columbia prisons.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he has conducted a review and concluded chaplains employed by the prisons must provide services to inmates of all faiths.

Early last month, the agency put out a request for a proposal for a Wiccan chaplain who would provide about 17 hours of service a month in B.C.

Shortly after The Canadian Press reported on the contract in September, Toews's office issued a statement saying it would not proceed with the plan until after a review.

The spokeswoman says the federal government "is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding."

According to a March 2011 report, 120 full-time and part-time institutional chaplains, 132 contract holders and 3,045 volunteers worked in Canada's federal prisons, but details on their faiths weren't included.

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Feds nix plan for Wiccan chaplain to serve inmates in B.C. prisons