The Law Society of Upper Canada -- now with the Court's approval -- won't recognize TWU's law degree solely because the person who earned that degree decided, while studying law, to join others in a religious community where people share a personal commitment to traditional marriage. Lawyers have the freedom to advocate for, and practice, their moral beliefs about sexuality. This reflects a basic respect for fundamental Charter freedoms. So why should it be any different for those seeking to enter the legal profession?
While Canada Day is usually a time to celebrate the swearing in of new citizens, this year will be the first time that their citizenship will be marked with an asterisk, thanks to Harper's passage of Bill C-24. The new law threatens dual citizens and immigrants to Canada with revocation of their citizenship. Now, citizenship can be revoked by a Citizenship Officer without a live hearing, without opportunity for appeal, without a judge, and for reasons other than a fraudulent application.
Bill C-51, dubbed the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, should cause Canadians deep concern. Its provisions, if passed into law, would jeopardize many of our most basic rights and liberties and would only serve to undermine the health of our democracy. Any limits imposed by Parliament on our basic rights and fundamental freedoms must be "reasonable"; they must not be overly broad; and they must be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. On the thirty-third anniversary of the signing of the Charter, we should demand that Parliament scrap Bill C-51 altogether.
Bill C-51 is complex, dangerous, and poses a serious threat to free expression in Canada. If found to be in violation of the proposed legislation, citizens and visitors could wind up slapped with censorship orders, detained without due process or imprisoned for up to five years. Is the federal government giving itself and its agencies more power to fight ISIS-like terrorism, or is it using high-profile tragedies to illegally spy, surveil and silence innocent citizens and its political enemies? Silencing Canadians with the threat of prosecution is tantamount to a chilling or denial of freedom of expression and association, among other Charter rights.
As I find myself on the eve of World Pride weekend, making plans to march in the parade with my partner, my son and step-daughter, and their dads, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that it has been almost a quarter of a century since I came out. Our children are in Grades one and three. They love all of their moms, and my parents are thrilled to be grandparents -- to not one but, now, two kids. I continue to be an advocate, although today it takes different forms. Today, my girlfriend and I dream about getting married in the backyard of our home. I will get married because now I want to. And now I can.
Lawyers arguing against the motion could not match the often inflammatory rhetoric of their impassioned colleagues. These lawyers argued the law. They reminded the members that B.C's Human Rights Code specifically exempts religious groups. They confirmed that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to a private educational institution.
All I could see was my dad attempting to move past the first officer and that officer not moving, continuing to block the door way and then preceding to hold back my father. I screamed, "Daddy, just wait! Just wait! Don't move any further." I was reminded me of the rash, fatal shooting and tasering of Sammy Yatim and feared that my father could too have suffered a similar fate
Systemic discrimination expands beyond our general scope of understanding. Behind every young man that is criminalized there is a community that is affected, and half of that community is female. These women are all affected by the higher likelihood of their community's men being criminalized. It is fundamental to our Canadian values to make all members of society feel at home, and that requires addressing the systemic discrimination that exists in our nation.
When an at risk visible minority youth comes into contact with the law they often cannot afford the high cost of legal counsel and are forced to apply for legal aid. But what happens when they are unable to access the essential legal aid program? The fact of the matter is that many at risk visible minority youth come from backgrounds of poverty where they are unable to afford their own legal counsel which means they must rely on the government legal aid program. Federal government funding to provinces and territories to provide legal aid services has not changed in 10 years.
On March 3, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights discussed the issue of visible minority youth and their interactions with the criminal justice system. In Toronto, the police have implemented a carding system where police forces stop, question and document people during non-criminal encounters on the streets. Statistics about carding in Toronto tell us that people who are black or brown are more likely to be carded than whites. Essentially this means that a brown or black person is more likely to be seen as suspicious by the police than someone who is white.
Marois is now trying to frighten French Quebec voters into believing that the growing communities of Quebec Muslims, Jews and Sikhs are threatening to impose their cultures and religious beliefs on French Quebecers and threaten the identity of French Quebecers. I think that Marois is hoping that these proposals will create a terrible backlash in the rest of Canada.
As opposed to viewing the Charter as a hindrance to its legislative agenda, the government should embrace the Charter -- as have lawyers, judges, academics, and even the majority of Canadians according to public opinion polls. We should be promoting and protecting those values the document enshrines.
Numerous examples, as recent and divergent in character as Hutu Power and the suicide of Amanda Todd, establish the causal relationship of hateful expression and material harms. And who can doubt the cranking of the thermostat which would occur if the William Whatcotts had their way? Viewed in this sense, Canadian hate speech laws may best be characterized not only as a striking of balance but as an essentially pre-emptive effort. But the Flanagan case reminds us that even in the absence of a formal criminal charge, an offended majority will impose its justice of the marketplace.
As the newly appointed Minister Responsible for the Montreal Region, Quebec Premier Marois has asked you to start a dialogue with the province's anglophone minority. Real nations are benevolent to their minorities. Perhaps acting as if you already are a nation may make nationhood become a reality that much faster. Mr. Lisée, give us this pittance. Throw us this crumb.
So there I am in my last column agonizing over whether Canada should ban that obscene and hateful Internet video called Innocence of Muslims, when it occurs to me that it might be a really good idea to come up with an example of freedom of speech in action. Something easily understandable. Something vivid. Something gutsy.
Slowly, slowly, the dwindling band of journalists who survive all the cuts are being acclimatized to the notion that their job is no longer to serve the people in our democracy -- a tradition proudly built up over the past couple of hundred years, often at great cost -- but to serve their employer. So why don't we, the people, take over -- subsidize our precious democratic journalism ourselves? Here's the plan.