- Created on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:14
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.
- Created on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 13:31
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:
- Created on Friday, 21 March 2014 16:28
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.
- Created on Monday, 10 March 2014 18:46
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.
- Created on Monday, 24 March 2014 10:07
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.
- Created on Thursday, 20 March 2014 14:28
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."
- Created on Thursday, 20 March 2014 13:21
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.
- Created on Monday, 17 March 2014 14:03
Some parts of the Reformed community are making quite the stir in parts of Canada recently, and it is not positive. “When your neighbours may be hazardous to your health” was the title of yet another article that made the case that a Reformed community in BC’s Fraser Valley is contributing to a measles outbreak because of their refusal to vaccinate. Similar stories have appeared at times in Southern Alberta and Southern Ontario in the past decade - all areas where Reformed congregations are located. The latest rash of public outrage is taking on a new dimension: there are increasing calls for legal measures to be used against those who refuse to vaccinate.
The Vancouver Sun has recently featured a surprisingly detailed article that compares the viewpoints of Reverend Adriaan Geuze, the minister of the Reformed Congregation of North America in Chilliwack, with that of Reverend Abel Pol, the minister of the Chilliwack Canadian Reformed Church. It does a good job revealing the theological basis for the competing viewpoints. Read the article here. The blog One Christian Dad has also posted a detailed article on the subject - written by a member of a Canadian Reformed Church in the Chilliwack area.
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. You are welcome to share your respectful thoughts on our Facebook page.
- Created on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:48
After hearing a Prolife 101 presentation by ARPA Canada at her school this winter, Debbie Hofsink, a student at Ebenezer school in Smithers, went home and penned this poem:
- One hundred thousand crosses upon a darkened hill;
- One hundred thousand children who will evermore be still;
- One hundred thousand children who could not voice their pleas…
- One hundred thousand crosses that no one really sees.
- One hundred thousand babies who will never see the day;
- One hundred thousand children who will never laugh or play;
- One hundred thousand infants who were silenced this past year –
- One hundred thousand infants killed, yet did we shed a tear?
- Every day that passes, another small one dies;
- Murder after murder, and we just avert our eyes.
- We’ve become immune to guilty feelings that belong
- In our hearts when we hear of this deed so clearly wrong.
- Created on Monday, 10 March 2014 20:02
On Thursday, March 6, ARPA Canada's legal counsel filed the written legal arguments for our Christian coalition, the Association of Christian Educators and Schools (ACES) Canada at the Supreme Court of Canada in regards to the Loyola case. You can read all about the case and what it means for Christian education here and here. For those interested in reading our written legal arguments, please see the attachment below. We covet your prayers, that the legal arguments may be fully considered, that the judges' hearts may be open to the Truth, that ARPA might be granted the opportunity to make oral arguments at the hearing, and that ultimately this entire project might be for the glory of God and the benefit of His church. We thank you for your support as we thank Him for His support and goodness.
- Created on Monday, 10 March 2014 18:46
There’s more support than you may think for a number of pro-life initiatives introduced in Parliament during the past year. Blogger Patricia Maloney has done some research, and filed some FOI requests with the Privy Council Office with respect to the correspondence the Prime Minister’s been getting on this. The results may surprise you.
Mike Schouten from WeNeedaLaw.ca recently appeared on Brian Lilley’s “ByLine” program on SUN-TV to talk about the new parental consent initiative that’s been launched in Saskatchewan. We feature audio from part of the interview – if you haven’t seen it yet, the full video interview is here.
We also look back at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, and update Trinity Western University’s battle to start a law school.
And two indepth interviews this week. Mike Schouten weighs in on the prospects of having a bill to ban sex-selective abortions introduced in Parliament this year, and ARPA legal counsel Andre Schutten has an update on the Loyola court case. ARPA has been granted intervener status in the case. The “factum” is being filed with the Supreme Court of Canada this week, and we should hear soon whether there will be an opportunity to present oral arguments in the case.
Also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lighthouse-news/id828185419?mt=2
- Created on Monday, 10 March 2014 16:39
The following is our latest issue of Respectfully Submitted, a series of policy reports for Parliamentarians. It is best viewed as a PDF (attached). We are printing and shipping this one to all MPs and Senators and encourage our readers to follow up with their MP in the coming weeks to ask for their thoughts about this document.
“Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”
- Preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Who is supreme in Canada? Some will point to the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, others to the Prime Minister’s Office and still others to the people who elect the politicians. But all of them, and all of us, are here today and gone tomorrow.
We may argue that it is ideas which shape a society because ideas don’t retire or die – they have the power to overthrow an empire. Our Chief Justice once wrote that law itself is supreme. But laws change and ideas are like the wind. Progressivism, the unarticulated goal of many legislators, becomes a self-defeating enterprise as the next generation looks upon it with the same disregard that it looked on those ideas before it.
Canada is a nation in search of an identity. We don’t publicly recognize any god as supreme, let alone the Christian God. We follow leaders and ideas for a time, only to move on to the next person or thing that stirs us. But hockey, donuts, and beer aren’t exactly symbols on which to build a nation.
Over the decades Canada has divorced the Christian God from our public institutions and replaced Him with self-worship, state-worship, and earth-worship, among other things. Yet we continue to lay claim to, and benefit from, many of the political and legal by-products of the Christian faith, including fundamental human rights, much of the Criminal Code, and the concept of rule of law.
- Created on Thursday, 20 February 2014 06:56
On December 20, 2013, in the case of Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada found three Criminal Code prostitution offences to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect. This decision gives Parliament one year to respond with a new law before the judgment takes effect.
The government is now asking for feedback from you. Here is your chance to help shape a very important law for the better. What a practical and far-reaching way to honour the command to love your neighbour as yourself!
The link for the government feedback survey is right here (just click on the consultations tab). Before filling it out, it might be a good idea to review the next few paragraphs. What follows is a basic summary of what our law currently says, what the Supreme Court said about these laws, and what other options there are in dealing with this issue. Then we’ve listed ARPA’s own talking points on the issue. Consider using these when filling out the survey.
- The Time to Stop the Euthanasia Train from Running off the Tracks is Now!
- Canada - Watch and Learn from Belgium's Experience with Euthanasia
- Take Action: Income Splitting and Tax Fairness for Families
- The Lunchroom Comes Before the Legislature
- New EasyMail: C-518 Revoking Pensions for Convicted Politicians Act
- Seizing the Opportunity for Municipal Politics
- Group Says Human Trafficking Investigations Invade Sex Workers Privacy
- Updated with EasyMail: Vellacott Introduces Shared Parenting Bill C-560
- The Truth about Missionaries: Bearers of Freedom
- Dr. Neufeld on Bullying: What Really Works?
- ARPA in National Post: Defining Human Dignity
- Opportunity: Share Your Thoughts on Government Spending
- Great News: Intervenor Status Granted in Loyola Case!
- Report Card: 10 Very Realistic Goals for Canada in the Next Four Years (2)
- Death with Dignity - A Priority Issue for 2014
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