A Trigger Warning in the Fraser Valley – On the feature today, we speak with the member of a pro-life club at a BC university. That pro-life club recently held an art display by local high school students on the topic of “the value of life”. Learn more about the trigger warnings that were required before the event could proceed.
Transgenderism in Hamilton – André Schutten appears before a committee of Hamilton City Council.
Grassroots Motivation – A look back at Colin Postma’s recent tour of western ARPA chapters.
Retreat in Alberta? – Alberta’s Education Minister concedes there are “legal complications” with Bill 10.
TWU Update – Arguments over Law School accreditation going to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Criminal Law – Toronto police contemplate double homicide charge in death of mother and newborn son.
ARPA’s Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten, was at City Hall in Hamilton, Ontario yesterday, making a presentation to City Council’s Audit Committee. The Committee will be looking at a report on a proposed protocol covering the issue of transgenderism. Among other things, the protocol would open up all city-operated bathrooms and change rooms to those who identify as something other than their biological sex. Schutten told the Committee the proposal runs counter to the Ontario Human Rights Code, which lists “three instances where it allows for the segregation of services according to sex.”
Schutten says the presentation was challenging, because all presenters were limited to just 5 minutes of speaking time.
ARPA Canada submitted a four page written brief to the Hamilton Council members with simple recommendations for improvements to the Protocol. You can read it here. You can also view our oral submissions to the committee here.
Hamilton City Council is expected to make a decision on the issue sometime this spring.
ARPA’s Manager of Grassroots Engagement was on the road last week. Colin Postma made a number of stops in BC and Alberta, trying to find new ways to get folks engaged. He says they tried a different approach this time, breaking the participants down into small discussion groups for brainstorming sessions. “After that, the group(s) would put their ideas together and cycle them around the room.” He says the goal was to “get people inside the ARPA mentality, coming up with new ideas for how to engage.” There were three focus areas to the presentations: engaging with elected officials, engaging with Reformed Christians to get them more involved, educated, and equipped, and doing public displays to get the public’s attention on some of the issues that ARPA deals with.
The tour also included meetings with supporting churches, pastors, and school groups.
There was a new development in the Alberta Education sector last week. Education Minister David Eggen appears to be backing away from plans to insist that all schools – including independent and Christian schools – will have to live by Bill 10 and the province’s policies on transgenderism in the classroom. He told the National Post that an inquiry into two Edmonton area schools which are refusing to follow the policy has unearthed unexpected legal implications and the situation is “more complicated” than they had originally foreseen.
ARPA Education consultant Harry Moes says the Minister has had that report in his hands for more than two months, and it appears Eggen is “stepping back” and recognizing that “the rule of law does need to respect the religious rights of parents.”
There’s no indication on when the report might be released.
The Trinity Western Law School case is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Late last month, the Court granted leave to appeal two cases; a BC Court of Appeal ruling which came down in favour of the school, and an Ontario ruling that went the opposite way.
There’s already a precedent of sorts on this. The Supreme Court ruled 16 years ago that that the BC Teacher’s College would have to accredit graduates from Trinity’s education program as teachers in that province.
ARPA lawyer John Sikkema says it’s not surprising that the Supreme Court granted the leave to appeal. “When you have the Court of Appeal in BC and the Court of Appeal in Ontario reaching opposite decisions, and the BC Court… taking the Ontario Court to task for its decision, that alone makes it not surprising that leave to appeal has been granted.”
The case will likely be heard this fall or early next year. ARPA will be applying for intervenor status.
Police in Toronto made an announcement last week that has restarted the discussion about criminal charges in cases where pregnant women are murdered and their unborn child dies as a result of the attack. The announcement centred on the death of 33 year old Candice Bobb of Etobicoke. She was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting last May. She was five months pregnant at the time. Her baby – a boy – was delivered by caesarean section. He died a few weeks later. Police are still looking for suspects in the shooting, but say if they eventually solve the case, there will be two charges laid: one in the death of the mother and the other in the death of the baby. In making the announcement, Sergeant Mike Carbone, a detective with the Toronto Homicide Unit conceded that this case involves a “complicated part of the law”.
Specifically, the law being referenced is Section 223 of the Criminal Code, which says “a person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.”
Mike Schouten with We Need a Law says the fact that it took police almost year to come to this decision shows what’s wrong with the current legislation. “The Crown is grappling with this because there is such an incredible hypocrisy. If the child had died in-utero and not been born first, they would have had no problem just asking for the one charge dealing with the pregnant mother.” Schouten says it shouldn’t have taken police almost a year to come out and admit that they’re looking for someone who has committed two murders according to the Criminal Code. Schouten says the case again illustrates Canada’s “lack of any protection for children right up to the moment of birth is what’s at play here.”
Last year, Parliament declined to pass “Cassie and Molly’s Law”, a private member’s bill which would have automatically mandated charged in cases like this.
On the feature this week, an interview with Raymond Kobes. Raymond is part of a pro-life club at a BC University.
LHN: Raymond, let’s talk first of all about who you are and your position.
RK: I’m the treasurer of the pro-life group on campus at the University of the Fraser Valley. It’s a group where we discuss pro-life issues, try to generate discussion, have events, and try to be a light on campus.
LHN: You had an event – an art display – celebrating life. First of all, just a brief description of what your group did and what the purpose of this whole thing was.
RK: Part of our vision as a pro-life group on campus is to generate discussion and inform people on campus – students – what’s happening. And the event we did was a three-day art display. We talked to our local high school – the high school where the (club’s) president and myself attended back in the day – and we asked if the art class would be interested in doing an art project for us. The topic of the display was “The Value of Life”. They were given that as their topic and they could take it where they wanted. Many of them touched in on the value of human life and what that means, from conception to natural death. They did a short write-up on all of their pieces, which were mostly done as paintings.
LHN: I had a look at some of the pictures you posted on social media. I didn’t see any graphic anti-abortion messages or imagery or anything like that and yet there was a sign on the door warning people going into this display that this might “trigger” something. They called it a “trigger warning”. What was that about?
RK: So to understand how the trigger warning came about we have to go back to last spring where we held an event. Every spring, our club tries to have kind of a public display in order to show that we’re still around and that this discussion needs to happen. Last year we did a flag display. As you may be aware, it’s where we have 10,000 pink and blue flags representing the 100,000 abortions that happen here in Canada (every year.) And when we did this display there was quite a bit of backlash from certain groups of the university (community); a lot of students felt that they were being traumatized and they were reliving difficult circumstances. There was a counter-protest and a lot of flak was thrown at the University for allowing us there.
So this year, as we went forward, one of the things the University really wanted was to make sure that that wouldn’t happen again, that there wouldn’t be so much negative press, and that we would be having trigger warnings so that people wouldn’t stumble upon us. So they made sure we were stuck in a room with closed doors.
LHN: What kind of reaction did the display actually get? Were there any students who claimed to have been “triggered”? Any protests this time trying to shut you down or anything?
RK: No. This year, as we did the event – since it was stuck in a back corner with doors closed – there weren’t any (people) protesting it. And I think the reason that this was the case is because this is where they want us. I think they think they’ve won when they’ve sent us to a corner, the doors and closed, there’s trigger warnings up; this is the place where they want to have this discussion. Out of the public eye. In a corner where people aren’t going to stumble upon it. And I think that’s the sad part about how the discussion is going. That they’re ideally happy when this is not being discussed.
LHN: So have they won then?
RK: Well, they think they have. But as I’ve been talking with the president (of the club) and other people, we look at last week, when there was no discussion on this issue, and this week, where there is lots of discussion, I think that’s somewhere where we’ve gained a lot of traction. And just from hearing around classes on the university campus – in classes not related to this topic – there have been prof’s discussing what this was and who was involved and how this all came about. So I think the fact that the discussion is happening is opening the ears of people that this issue is still around, and is still important.
LHN: What’s really behind this though? I mean, you’ve kind of referenced the notion that they’re trying to marginalize (you) and stick you off in a room in a corner somewhere – where nobody will pay attention. I mean Falun Gong – that’s a longstanding issue in terms of the history of (religious persecution in) China and a lot of violence and a lot of nasty things going on there – the folks in support of the Falun Gong movement have had displays on campus, and there’s no trigger warnings there.
RK: Yeah, it’s interesting. Just last September, they did have an event. And there were paintings showing torture scenes and organ harvesting and truly brutal atrocities. And it was done with doors open and somebody inviting you in. I walked in and it was quite a shocking thing to see. It was eye-opening and it was good to have on a campus.
Interestingly enough, there was good comment from Jon Dykstra (on social media) who mentioned that it’s so much easier to condemn someone else’s sins and to look at persecutors of that religion and to think that “of course they’re doing something wrong; we want to publicize that and be on the right side of history.” But it’s so much more difficult when it’s an event looking inward because this is our country. This is Canada, done with taxpayer dollars funding abortions. And to have this discussion about self-critiquing is extremely difficult.
LHN: So obviously you’re not giving up. You were relegated to a corner this year, but you’re going to keep going? You’re going to keep trying to promote this issue and this cause?
RK: Yeah, for sure. We’re in discussions with the event coordinators on how this happened, and to be clear, so that everyone knows, we agreed to where we were, and we agreed to having trigger warnings. And the reason we did that is because if we (hadn’t) agreed to it and we tried to make a stand there, no event (would have) happened. And we think that having an event, even if it’s not ideal, is going to be the only way we’re going to be able to generate discussion (and) have a little bit of credibility going forward. That we’ve tried it in this way. We think it’s an infringement on free speech and we can use this as leverage in the future. And for sure, we won’t be silent.