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I'll take free speech over political correctness

By Rob Anders
web posted December 22, 2003

A recent column by Naomi Lakritz (Spencer not the only gay-basher in Alliance, Dec. 4) was short on facts.

According to the Canadian Charter of Rights that include the following fundamental Freedoms: conscience and religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

Svend Robinson's private member's bill, C-250, seeks to limit these freedoms by adding "sexual orientation" to Section 318(4) of the Criminal Code, adding to the current list of identifiable groups such as colour, race, religion and ethnic origin. It has passed third reading in the House of Commons, and now has an uncertain status in the Senate.

Several religious texts in the Muslim Koran, Jewish Torah and the New and Old Testaments of the Bible are now at risk because of this bill. Bill C-250 has now been amended, but it does not properly protect legitimate religious, academic, professional and other free speech interests. This approaches an unacceptable level of state intrusion, especially considering the current politically correct climate that seems to dominate.

While referring to free speech in Canada, University of Western Ontario Professor, Robert Martin, is reported to have said, "Canada is now a totalitarian theocracy.  I see this as a country ruled today by what I would describe as a secular state religion [of political correctness].  Anything that is regarded as heresy or blasphemy is not tolerated."

Those that trust the federal government to protect the church from prosecution by the courts and human rights tribunals should know about court rulings that have come down pre-Bill C-250. First a pastor was fined for placing an ad in the paper which simply quoted a Bible verse. Second, a print shop owner fined for refusing to print homosexual material on his privately owned press.

Attempting to vilify Alliance MPs who oppose Bill C-250 and same-sex marriage is silly considering the Liberal party is split: forty Liberal MPs voted against Bill C-250 in spite of internal strong-arming. Many MPs from all parties have commented in the House that they have received more mail opposing Bill C-250 and same-sex marriage than any other issue in the history of Parliament. The current definition of marriage and free speech are important issues to all Canadians.

Marginalizing those who disagree with homosexual marriage and Bill C-250 is becoming more difficult since the COMPAS survey, commissioned by the National Post, released December 3, 2003 now shows 63 per cent of Canadians support the current definition of marriage as being an exclusive union between one man and one woman. This is a marked increase from past polls, but is consistent with my own surveys in Calgary West.

Recently my office sent out a pamphlet to all constituents asking for input on Bill C-250. Of the 1,656 responses we received to date: 82 per cent want Bill C-250 scrapped.

Crimes of violence or crimes against property committed against homosexuals should be prosecuted, just as they are prosecuted in any other case. Equality of all persons under the law is what makes our Canadian law something to be cherished.

Judicial activism, in a large part due to the Court Challenges Program that selectively funds certain groups encouraging them to challenge our laws, is rapidly eroding confidence in the Canadian legal system.

The courts are moving from enforcing law to creating it: usurping Parliament's role. Skepticism of the courts is growing. The same aforementioned COMPAS poll indicates 46 per cent of Canadians feel Judges are "going beyond constitutional law." Compare this to the 34 per cent that feel the Judges are within their responsibilities.

When the issue is freedom of speech versus political correctness, I will always stand on the side of freedom.

Rob Anders is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Calgary West, in Alberta Canada.

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