Bill C-51: Removing protection of religious freedom

June 23, 2017

As your Member of Parliament, I wanted to write to express my concern over a recent Bill that the Liberal government has introduced into the House of Commons, Bill C-51. I would like to draw your attention to one clause in Bill C-51 that took me aback. Clause 14 of the new Bill proposes to remove the following section of the Criminal Code:

176 (1) Every one who

(a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function in connection with his calling, or
(b) knowing that a clergyman or minister is about to perform, is on his way to perform or is returning from the performance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a) (i) assaults or offers any violence to him, or (ii) arrests him on a civil process, or under the pretence of executing a civil process, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

(2) Every one who wilfully disturbs or interrupts an assemblage of persons met for religious worship or for a moral, social or benevolent purpose is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(3) Every one who, at or near a meeting referred to in subsection (2), wilfully does anything that disturbs the order or solemnity of the meeting is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

By repealing this section, the Government will be removing the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion, whatever that religion may be. In a time where news stories are increasingly reporting attacks on religious communities in Canada, this proposal greatly concerns me. We must stand up for the rights of all Canadians to practice their religion without fear of recrimination, violence, or disturbance.

I welcome any thoughts you may have. Please address any concerns with this proposal to:

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H8

jody.wilson-raybould@parl.gc.ca

For more information on the text of this bill or its status, click here.

David Anderson, MP