Local ARPA groups:join us in Ottawa on May 6 and 7 for meetings with MPs, a presentation to MPs and Senators about Restorative Justice, and a conference. The March for Life is the next day (May 8).
Students at Neerlandia Covenant Canadian Reformed School, under the direction of Jacqueline Hamoen, recently held a fundraiser in support of the Crisis Pregnancy Care Centre in Edmonton. This was the first step to start an ARPA School Club there. We look forward to seeing what else these students will do! A big thank you to Jacqueline and the students: Tristan J, Jewel, Olivia, Ally, Mason, and Tristin VL for their hard work on this. See pictures of their experience and the write-up that was in their school newsletter, below.
Last week I had the privilege of taking 6 students to the Pregnancy Care Centre. A BIG THANK YOU goes to the grade six class who raised over $300 from a bake sale. All proceeds raised were used to buy much needed products for the Crisis Pregnancy Care Centre in Edmonton. THANK YOU to all those who gave donations to Tristan J for this great event. He was a big part of this trip. Upon arriving there the students received a bit of a tour with an explanation of how they help those in need. I think the biggest shock to them was the fact that this place was a house instead of a large building. When asked what their first impression was, most replied, “It’s a house and it looks very comfortable”. They were all excited that they could raise so many items for such a cause. The Pregnancy Care Centre welcomed these gifts with big smiles and thankfulness.
- Jacqueline Hamoen
The Family Project is a new initiative by Focus on the Family to explore the irreplaceable role and design of family. This project will include a groundbreaking documentary and a 12 part curriculum series that will not only show us just how important the preservation of family is, but will transform the way we see ourselves and show us just how important family is, not just to the Christian worldview, but to the survival of society.
- Tim Sisarich, Host of Irreplaceable
This film will only be in theatres for one day: Wednesday, May 7. Get more details and find out if it is showing in a theatre near you by clicking here.
We encourage you to watch the film and to take part in the curriculum provided by Focus on the Family (click here).
Mr. Jim Flaherty died this afternoon at age 64. We offer prayers for his family and friends, in particular his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, and their sons John, Galen and Quinn. We pray they may turn to Father for strength, comfort and guidance in such a time as this.
The Honourable Jim Flaherty was Canada's former and third-longest serving finance minister, having retired as minister only three weeks ago. He was still serving as MP for Whitby-Oshawa. Mr Flaherty had also served as a finance minister in the province of Ontario during Mr. Harris' years as premier. Mr. Flaherty will be remembered for his steady hand in his federal role over the past eight years. He will also be remembered as a minister who understood and appreciated the valuable contributions made by the other institutions of society. He championed support for independent education while an Ontario MPP and also fought for the rights of those with disabilities and gave much to that cause.
We give thanks for his service. We offer our deep condolences to his family and friends.
Trinity Western University is continuing its efforts to have a new law school accredited by Law Societies across the country. ARPA has filed a written submission supporting the University to the regulating body in Ontario, and this week, LightHouse News has a feature-length interview with Janet Epp-Buckingham, one of the two people spear-heading the effort on behalf of the school.
Also on the program, an update on the push for a parental consent law in Saskatchewan, a look at a new memorial to unborn children in Ontario, and some updates from Ottawa on two new Private Members Bills and a new Victim’s Rights Act.
We also reference a recent court ruling on religious freedom in the US, quoting an excellent bit of commentary on the case from the American Family Association. You can read the full commentary on that case here.
UPDATED: Regional marches now listed below. Scroll down to view the 2014 theme video.
The National March for Life will be held in Ottawa on Thursday, May 8, 2014. ARPA Canada and Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church will host a Reformed Prayer Service prior to the march, including a message from Tim Challies and pro-life training from Mike Schouten and André Schutten. Following the service there will be bagged lunches for all those who pre-register and the march begins with presentations at Parliament Hill at 12:00 pm.
Details about the Reformed Prayer Service:
Where: First Baptist Church (140 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa)
When: 10:00 am
Speakers: Tim Challies, Mike Schouten and André Schutten
Read Mr. Blokhuis' poem, An Appeal to All Members of Parliament about this year's March for Life.
The following is a press release issued by ARPA Oxford about their recent abortion memorial.
Memorial to aborted pre-born Canadians raised on Hwy. 3
Dozens of men, women and children have helped to build an abortion memorial in Elgin County. The memorial was built March 29 by the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Oxford in a highly visible location on Highway 3 just east of Aylmer. The goal of the memorial is to trigger discussions on Canada’s status quo of unrestricted and publicly funded abortion-on-demand.
“In Canada, abortion is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy and paid for by our tax dollars,” said James Van Gurp, vice-chairman of ARPA Oxford. “We’re hoping that pro-lifers and abortion supporters alike will be given reason to reflect on the 100,000 pre-born Canadians killed in the womb every year.”
Manitoba MP Stephen Fletcher has informed his caucus and the media that he plans to introduce two bills into Parliament. The first would allow assisted suicide and the second would set up a commission to monitor what is going on, to improve the process.
Fletcher is a quadraplegic MP. When the House of Commons last voted on this issue, he abstained because he said that the bill was flawed. Yet he also made it clear to Parliament the he believed assisted suicide should be a legal option. Read more about Mr. Fletcher in this Christian Renewal article.
It is important to note that Mr. Fletcher is number 240 on the list of MPs who get to introduce a piece of legislation in this Parliament. That means that it is very unlikely that his bill would even be debated, let alone voted on, unless a different MP exchanges their slot with him. It appears that this bill is primarily about driving attention to the issue - and that is clearly working.
Fletcher noted that he realizes that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this case but that he thinks it is Parliament's job to come up with new legislation. Yet it was only a few years ago that Parliament overwhelmingly voted down Francince Lalonde's bill that sought to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. ARPA readers had a big hand in opposing that bill.
The lesson we can learn is that if we believe an issue needs to be raised, we need to show the same stamina and devotion as those who are advancing causes we oppose. Justice and freedom require vigilance.
This morning, ARPA's legal counsel sent a written submission to the policy secretariat at the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). You can read the submission attached to this article below.
The LSUC is the body that regulates and licenses all lawyers in the province of Ontario. They are considering whether or not to accredit Trinity Western University's (TWU) School of Law despite the affirmation of other government bodies that have already approved the school. The problem is that there are some activist lawyers out there who think that a Christian who gets his or her legal education at a Christian law school cannot be a good lawyer because they "discriminate" due to the Christian view on marriage. (photo credit)
The sad thing is, the LSUC is asking and investigating this issue despite the conclusions of two professional legal opinions, the findings (after extensive investigation) of two government decision-making bodies, and the ruling of an 8-1 majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in a case barely a decade old with virtually the exact same fact scenario. By re-evaluating TWU, the LSUC demonstrates a bias amounting to a religious inquisition. There is no doubt in my mind that if this were about an orthodox Jewish, Muslim, atheist, Black, feminist, LGBTQ or any other private law school formed along associational lines, there would be no such "due diligence". This double standard is evidence for not only why we should accredit TWU, but also why we need to accredit TWU.
What follows is a beautifully written and insightful reflection on the Loyola hearing by vice-president of Cardus, Ray Pennings. The hearing was conducted in the Supreme Court of Canada on Monday morning, March 24, 2014. This reflection was originally published as a Cardus Daily blog. Reprinted here with permission.
Cardus has covered the issues involved in Loyola et al vs. the Attorney General of Quebec on many occasions. Always our position is that the organizations of civil society, including those that are religiously motivated, must be free to participate without hesitancy in our public space. This is at the heart of our understanding of freedom and democracy.
I had the privilege of a front row seat at Monday's hearing. As befitting a Supreme Court, it is an impressive experience. Twenty-nine robed lawyers fidgeted nervously at the tables reserved for counsel, representing Loyola as the appellant, the Attorney General as the respondent, and the eleven organizations who had been granted intervener status. Chief Justice McLachlin presided over the arguments: an hour for the appellants' lawyer, followed by ten minutes for each of the seven interveners granted the right to make oral arguments. Finally, the respondent had an hour, the appellant five minutes to respond. Throw in one 15-minute break and it was all over by lunchtime.
The judges on the bench allow the lawyer a few minutes to get started and into their grooves before the interrupting questions begin. To the appellants and supporting interveners, the questions had a similar theme. If you are going to argue freedom of religion, what about the state's right to promote diversity, tolerance, and respect? And when these two rights run into conflict, how do we define the balance?
For the respondent, the questions were also uncomfortable. Did the Minister seriously consider the different nature of a Catholic school in making her decision and was the logical implication that no religious school could ever teach a religiously-based equivalency of this curriculum? Is this indeed the minimal impairment of the freedom of religion rights of the appellants?
It would be chasing fool's gold to try and discern from the judges' questions what their ultimate decision will be. The debate now will take place behind closed doors as the seven justices consider the arguments heard, take a position, assign one of their own to write it up in careful legalese (knowing that every word will be parsed and shape literally hundreds of subsequent legal decisions), and finally—six to nine months from now—release it for the rest of the world to evaluate.
But regardless of the verdict, I'm grateful for three things:
Update from Legal Counsel, André Schutten: I was very impressed by the arguments made in the Supreme Court this morning. Although I would have preferred a more forceful approach by the lawyer for Loyola, he still did a good job of defending his client. The seven interveners were able to strongly articulate the values and principles that ARPA and the ACES Canada coalition advocated for in our factum. Although the question of the "neutrality" of the State was not addressed enough and the role of parents was only touched on briefly, nevertheless I was very happy with the presentations. Also, the interactions with the judges seemed to go very well. From what I could tell, they were favourable to our position, some of them quite obviously so. All in all, today was a very good day. We now wait for the decision which should be written within the next year.
After months of waiting and praying, the Supreme Court of Canada is hearing the Loyola case on Monday. Our legal team André Schutten and Ian Moes will be giving us a video update after the hearing (posted online).
If you want to watch the hearing livestreamed today, click here.
To read our written legal arguments (factum) click here.
To read Andre's op-ed published by the Ottawa Citizen this morning, click here.
To read a helpful summary of the various arguments to be made in court today, please click here.
ARPA Canada is pleased to present our very own news broadcast, featuring host Al Siebring! Lighthouse News seeks to educated and equip our listeners via a credible and hope-filled alternative to the mainstream media. We will offer a new broadcast every two weeks, and you can get them all streamed to your computer, ipod, or phone via iTunes (see below).
Listen online at http://arpacanada.ca/lighthouseNews
On the interview portion of the program this week, Al talks with Saskatoon MP Maurice Vellacott about Bill 560, his attempt to redefine the basic rules of child custody in divorce cases. He is suggesting a presumption of “equal shared parenting”. Some have argued that the suggestion may actually work against the interests of very young children, and there’s also the notion that the Bill might inadvertently encourage marriage breakdown by making it less financially onerous to get a divorce. Those questions and more are addressed in the interview.
André Schutten, Ottawa Citizen, March 23, 2014: In her 1991 lecture, "Who owns our kids?", Canada's Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin warned, "Despite the fact that we now have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, the Canadian record offers no room for complacency. Our history underscores the ease with which the guarantee can be undermined in well-meaning efforts motivated by conflicting social goals."
Her words ring true as much today as 23 years ago. On Monday, the Supreme Court of Canada will be asked to answer the very question McLachlin raised. The case before it exemplifies what she warned about: undermining religious freedom through social reconstruction by possibly well-meaning, though severely misguided, government bureaucracies.
The case is known as "the Loyola case." Loyola is an independent "confessional Christian" Jesuit boys' school in Montreal. In 2005, the Québec Ministry of Education introduced a new curriculum called Ethics and Religious Culture. In 2008, ERC became mandatory for all grades (except grade 9) in all public, private and even home schools. Keep reading this article at the Ottawa Citizen.
I had the pleasure of attending a policy briefing in Ottawa a few weeks ago where our friends at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada released the first ever analysis of Statistics Canada data examining the link between marriage and income in Canada. Their report is titled, The Marriage Gap Between Rich and Poor Canadians: How Canadians are split into haves and have-nots along marriage lines.
The data shows there is a dramatic "marriage gap" in Canada. The wealthy are mostly coupled up, and the poor are mostly unattached.
But Canadians are generally unaware of this. This is troubling because research shows marriage is a powerful wealth creator and protector against poverty, as well as a force for social mobility for children.
Researchers internationally are aware of the powerful protective power against poverty that marriage provides. However, Canadians, while very concerned about inequality and poverty, have not yet made the link to marriage.
While listening to the briefing, my thoughts were, "It is so interesting that the social scientific evidence demonstrates exactly what God promises in His Word. Where we live in families as He designed them to be: committed, monogamous relationships, then we can expect His blessing for generations to come."
Updated with Reader response below
UPDATE from author: I have had an incredible amount of interaction on this post, with many Reformed readers strongly opposed to my position for various reasons (for example, see the discussion on our Facebook page here). I have been very impressed with the overall tone and respect used in the dialogue. Those opposed to my arguments have shown much grace when interacting with what I wrote, which I really appreciate. I have in the past written about much less important issues in secular forums and have been verbally assaulted for my views, so I must say that I much prefer interacting with fellow Christians on very sensitive issues. Furthermore, because of the respectful tone, I am all the more compelled to rethink my position. I'm not sure yet if I'll write more on this topic (I'm hardly qualified to do so from a medical perspective, although the more theoretical questions of public policy remain intriguing to me). Nevertheless, I want to republish a counterpoint to my counterpoint from one concerned parent. He wrote thoughtfully and thoroughly, carefully interacting with my arguments while exemplifying grace in his critique. Thank you! Please see appended below for the text of the counterargument. As always, we appreciate your feedback.
One final note of clarification: many have referred to "ARPA's position" in discussing this issue. Please note - ARPA does not have a position on the vaccine issue. What is written below was the opinion of one staff member responding to the contrary position held by another staff member.
Earlier this week, my colleague posted an article about the ongoing measles vaccination controversy in southern BC. After outlining the two competing Reformed views on the issue, he concludes, "Although there are differing perspectives on the issue, we should be able to agree that it is a parent's responsibility to make decisions about what is best for their child and that authority can only be interfered with in exceptional circumstances. It is good for Christians to respectfully challenge each other's moral conclusions, as iron sharpens iron. There are huge consequences - including for our neighbours. But this is fundamentally a discussion for parents, families, friends, and churches - not the legal system."
I accept his invitation to challenge his conclusion, as iron sharpens iron.
While I am in total agreement with the first three sentences in the concluding paragraph above, I have concerns with the concluding sentence. When we say that measles vaccination is "fundamentally a discussion for parents, families, friends, and churches - not the legal system", I believe we have simplified the issue to our detriment. Indeed, in the discussions that surround this touchy issue, most who are against vaccinations make the error of lumping all vaccines together. But there is an enormous difference between a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease (for example), and a measles vaccine.
To conclude that not vaccinating your child against the potentially fatal or crippling measles virus is "fundamentally a discussion for parents" would be like saying that a child caught stealing cookies could be punished by flicking his hand or by having his hand chopped off with a meat cleaver, since child discipline is all a matter of parental authority - "fundamentally a discussion for parents". All our readers would agree that such a stance is indefensible. The reason is not because we think parents shouldn't discipline their child for stealing a cookie. The reason is because we need to examine the nature of the disciplinary action, apart from the broader issue of parental authority in child discipline. So also, with an issue like vaccinations, we need to examine the nature of the vaccines and their corresponding diseases, and not just vaccines in general.
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