Outgoing Letters and Public Statements


December 4, 2007
Re: Patient Chose Her Own Time to Die (Dec. 1, 2007)
Letter published in National Post, Dec. 4

I noticed the irony that Charles Lewis’ article regarding Peggy Sutherland’s assisted suicide in Oregon was placed beside Father Raymond J. De Souza’s article, “Hope that Saves.” De Souza ends his report on Pope Benedict’s second encyclical, “Saved by Hope” with the words, “Having hope requires a positive reason to live for, which he argues is not a reason so much as a person: God.”

In contrast, before she chose to take her life, Peggy Sutherland, though reportedly not religious, sought comfort in the Scriptural text found in Psalm 23, which inspires hope, even in “the valley of the shadow of death.” Ultimately, assisted suicide is not so much about choosing one’s own time to die; it is evidence of hope lost.

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

November 28, 2007
Re: CIDA Funding for Planned Parenthood
Letter sent to the Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation

Recently, it was brought to my attention that International Planned Parenthood Federation has received an $18 million grant from CIDA.

Planned Parenthood promotes abortion, and activity that a significant portion of Canadians oppose. The current legislative vacuum in Canada, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down previous legislation, is the consequence of Parliament’s inability to find a legislative consensus and not an indication of widespread support.

We further question the validity of government funding for this organization, especially since other organizations with differing viewpoints raise funds largely from individuals and the private sector and do not benefit from government funding.

We respectfully request that you ask your officials to review funding for International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

November 6, 2007
Re: Age of Consent Legislation, Bill C-2
Letter sent to the Legislative Committee on Bill C-2

Dear Chair and Committee Members, 

On September 27, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) wrote to each Member of Parliament requesting that Bill C-22, Age of Protection, be reinstated as having passed all stages in the House so that it could go directly to the Senate. Since that time, Age of Protection legislation was incorporated into omnibus Bill C-2, Tackling Violent Crime Act.

It is my understanding that the Committee will hear limited testimony concerning Bill C-2 and most of that testimony will be related to C-27, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace), which was introduced in the last session of Parliament. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to remind Committee Members of the EFC’s support of the Age of Protection provisions in Bill C-2.

The EFC has long advocated the need for Parliament to legislate raising the age of consent to sexual activity. During the last session of Parliament, the EFC appeared as a witness in support of Bill C-22, which would have raised the legal age from 14 to 16 years, at which a person can consent to non-exploitative sexual activity. We were pleased with the quick passage of Bill C-22 in the House. Since the prorogation of Parliament, and the renewed commitment to speedy passage of this legislation from the many MPs who responded to our letter on this subject, and the agreement from MPs in their speeches in the House, we remain confident that Age of Protection legislation incorporated in Bill C-2 will soon become law.

Canada’s current age of consent to sexual activity with adults is disquietingly low in comparison to the United States and other countries.

Our concern for the protection of children stems from the biblical mandate to care for the vulnerable. Our belief that God has created all people in His image and loves every person is the foundation for our belief in the worth of each human being. Flowing from this respect for human dignity is our desire to see all people treated as persons with inherent worth and not as objects or playthings.

We strongly believe that sexual expression is most fully and properly experienced within the security of a life-long marriage relationship between one man and one woman. As faith communities, we will continue to promote the role of parents and their spiritual communities in sharing the values that shape youth, including understanding of their sexual identity, from a Christian perspective. 

We commend the intent of Bill C-2, especially in relation to the provisions that would protect our children from adult pedophiles and predators of pubescent youth, believing that it takes a first step towards making Canada a safer place for our children.

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

October 4, 2007
Re: Freedom of expression, Students for Life, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Letter sent to the directors of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) in response to their decision not to recognize MUN Students For Life. Copies also went to the university's president and its dean of student affairs.
NOTE: what follows is only an excerpt from the letter. The complete letter can be viewed as a PDF.

It has come to my attention that the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) Board of Directors has taken a philosophically dangerous first step in deciding to restrict freedom of expression on the university campus on the basis that Memorial University of Newfoundland Students for Life (MUN For Life) takes an alternative view to that of the MUNSU Board.

While there are limits to Canadians’ right to freedom of expression, the September 26 decision made by the MUNSU Board, in an effort to silence or restrict free speech on an issue that remains open to public discussion and debate, is an unfortunate example of ...[SNIP]...

In short, the action taken by the MUNSU Board of Directors:
1.      is a violation of human rights as protected under the Human Rights Code of Newfoundland and Labrador.
2.      is taking an extreme position that is not consistent with the publicly accessible policies of the Canadian Federation of Students.
3.      is attempting to censor and exclude alternate voices on a matter of public discussion in Canada.

It is respectfully requested that a copy of this letter be provided to all MUNSU Board members and that the MUNSU Board of Directors’ change its decision in regard to MUN For Life, opting instead to grant MUN For Life’s club status.

Donald Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

September 17, 2007
Re: Age of consent legislation
Letter sent to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper (Prime Minister). With slight variations, the letter was also sent to the Honourable Stéphane Dion (Leader of the Official Opposition), Gilles Duceppe (Leader of the Bloc Québécois) and Jack Layton (Leader of the New Democratic Party).

With the recent prorogation of Canada’s 39th Parliament, Bill C-22, Age of Protection, which was in the Senate, has died on the Order Paper. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has long advocated for age of consent legislation, and considers this bill very important for the safety and protection of Canadian children. I am writing to you today to ask that when Parliament resumes, the government presents a Motion to Members of Parliament to reinstate the Age of Protection Bill as having passed all stages in the House of Commons. It is my hope that you will also address this issue in the upcoming Throne Speech on October 16.

Children are vulnerable to sexual abuse by adults, child prostitution, and to luring by sexual predators over the Internet. Raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 will help protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation by adults and strengthen the existing reach of Internet luring legislation.

The EFC has worked for many years towards the protection of the vulnerable, particularly children. We were interveners before the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v Sharpe, contributing to the court’s decision to uphold the child pornography provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.
The EFC has made submissions to the Standing Committee on Justice of the House of Commons on Bills C-20 in October, 2003 and also in April, 2005, when the Bill was reintroduced in the 38th Parliament as C-2, an Act for the Protection of Children and other Vulnerable Persons. This Legislation enhanced the protection of children by amending relevant sections of the Criminal Code relating to child pornography offences. The EFC has also made presentation to the Department of Justice and to the Justice Minister on matters of child pornography, child prostitution and the age of consent.
Bill C-22 represents an important additional step forward in ensuring that our young people are afforded the full protection they deserve. We respectfully urge you to act quickly to reinstate this critical legislative effort.

Bruce J. Clemenger, President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

August 29, 2007
Re: The decision to require instruction of Mennonite children in subject matter their parents found objectionable
Letter sent to Quebec Minister of Education

I write as a result of the media coverage concerning the education of children from fifteen Mennonite families in Roxton Falls, Quebec.

Media reports indicate that the families have been ordered by Ministry of Education officials to have their children be instructed subject matter to which Mennonites object on grounds of religious belief. The reports also indicate that Ministry of Social Services officials are prepared to apprehend the children if they are not either placed in government sponsored schools or agree to follow government approved curriculum in their own school.

If the media reports are accurate, the representatives of the Government of Quebec perceive this situation to be one of education standards and are either not familiar with or question the authenticity of the expressed religious objection to certain of the curriculum requirements of the Ministry of Education.

I write to affirm that the Mennonite expression of the Protestant Christian faith group found in Roxton Falls does affirm religious beliefs that present legitimate objection to curriculum noted in the media reports. These same Mennonite beliefs encourage acceptance of other people for who they are, regardless of any differences of opinion on religious beliefs or practices, and refusal to engage in a contentious or litigious situation. Accordingly, I write on their behalf but not at their request.

The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms recognizes the fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion. The beliefs expressed by the Mennonite community are sincerely held individually and as tenets of religious belief. Each of the members of the Mennonite community is entitled, under the Quebec Charter, to the “full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms…”

The Quebec Charter also recognizes certain rights in regard to education. There is an apparent conflict between the parents’ “right to give their children a religious and moral education in keeping with their convictions” and the education requirements as established by the Province of Quebec.

The conflict of the freedoms of conscience and religion and the parents’ right to give their children a religious and moral education with the Province’s right to set curriculum standards will not be resolved by means of a complaint filed by people whose faith prohibits them from engaging in a process to pursue their rights. It may, however, be resolved if the Government of Quebec moves quickly to stay any actions against these citizens who are well respected in their community and turn this matter over for consideration by the Bouchard-Taylor Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences.

Failure of the Government of Quebec to act quickly and compassionately in this situation will result in harm rather than good. There are no children in danger, still these fifteen families who are valuable contributors to the community and economy of Roxton Falls and the Province of Quebec will feel compelled to move elsewhere in order to provide for their children. The citizens of Roxton Falls will experience the loss of friends and neighbours and a sense of frustration with their provincial government. And, sadly, the experience of Mennonites in Manitoba and Saskatchewan may be repeated.  When those provinces insisted on public school attendance by Mennonite children in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, the Mennonite communities established there moved to Latin America where the freedom to practice their religion was assured. This was a most embarrassing moment in Canadian history that should not be repeated.

I implore you to take quick and definitive action in regard to these citizens of Quebec. Allow them to educate their children in their own school, at least until the Bouchard-Taylor Commission can complete its work.

Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

August 20, 2007
Re:  Why Seven Wrongs Don't Make a Right: A liberal society casts religion as a private matter rather than a public one
Letter submitted August 20, 2007 - Globe & Mail

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of Evangelical Protestant Christians in Canada. EFC affiliates include 40 denominations, 77 ministry organizations, 35 post-secondary educational institutions and nearly 1,000 individual congregations, who uphold a common statement of faith.

There is much in Professor Orwin’s article with which one might disagree. It is the subheading (later repeated in the piece) that indicates a fundamental flaw in his argument. In a “free and democratic society,” to quote the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, religion is not confined to being a private matter.

This is perhaps best stated by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1985 case Big M Drug Mart. Chief Justice Dickson stated, “The values that underlie our political and philosophic traditions demand that every individual be free to hold and to manifest whatever beliefs and opinions his or her conscience dictates, provided inter alia only that such manifestations do not injure his or her neighbours or their parallel rights to hold and manifest beliefs and opinions of their own.”

While some suggest public silence on the part of religious believers, advocating that members of our society keep their opinions to themselves on an issue they believe to be of primary importance is intolerant and fundamentally undemocratic. To clothe such comments in the concept of “liberal society” is a thinly veiled effort to restrict the freedom of expression of Canada’s religious communities, over 80% of the population according to Statistics Canada and Ipsos Reid. 

Any effort to remove from religious Canadians the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Canadian constitution would be contrary to sustaining an open, plural and tolerant (a.k.a. liberal) society.

Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

August 3, 2007
Re: No to Polygamy (Editorial in the Globe & Mail)

The Globe and Mail arrives at the right conclusion on polygamy – but followed the wrong path.

There is no requirement in Canadian law that the state recognize any religious practice. The issue is whether the state should engage in restricting a religious practice.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in the Halpern case, refused to accept argument by the Metropolitan Community Church that there was a religious freedom right to same-sex marriage. The court decided to deal only with the legal institution of marriage without “in any way, dealing or interfering with the religious institution of marriage.”

Religious freedom arguments are not the only ones likely to be advanced in regard to polygamy. Some of the other arguments are more troubling. In the debates about redefining marriage to include gays and lesbians, the courts and advocates argued that procreation was no longer a core element of marriage - that marriage is simply a committed relationship between adults. If this is what marriage is, then it begs the question why only two? Why not three or more? The Law Commission of Canada in its report Beyond Conjugality raised the same point and argued that there was no reason why the government should not recognize domestic relationships among multiple adults. 

The Law Commission also noted that relational equality becomes the issue when marriage looks simply to the recognition of a committed relationship between adults. At that time, the argument was presented that detaching marriage from a man and a woman with the intention of procreation could eliminate any sound legal reason to restrict the legal institution of marriage to two people.

The EFC opposed the redefinition of marriage. Those who supported the change will need to explain how the legal rationale they employed to redefine marriage once should not be followed to redefine marriage again.

Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

July 24, 2007
Re: Hateful Vision (Editorial in National Post)

The National Post asks whether there is “hypocrisy” in our society when contrasting the treatment of a Christian pastor and a Muslim cleric in their statements about homosexuals and Jews respectively.

Troubling as this is, the converse would be worse. Not that one group is subject to more scrutiny or held to a higher standard, but that another group, in this situation the Jewish community, would be considered less deserving of protection than others.

I agree with the National Post that any “double standard” or discrimination in the treatment of representatives of religious communities, their beliefs and their portrayal should be examined by the “media elite” – for the sake of fairness, balance and integrity. 

Bruce J. Clemenger, President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

June 8, 2007
Re: Assisted Suicide Should Be Decided by Canadians, not Religious Leaders
Letter printed June 11 - Ottawa Citizen

It is odd how someone who makes use of a public forum, such as the Citizen's letter page, would try to deny others that same privilege. Paul Zollmann, a member of the Choice in Dying group, infers that religious leaders do not have the same rights as other Canadians to publicly express their views. Who is it that is really trying to "impose their narrow views on the rest of"? The question of assisted suicide is worthy of full debate by all members of the public and informed consideration, including input based on religious beliefs.

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

June 6, 2007
Re: Canada's Empty Promise
Letter printed June 10 - Toronto Star 

As the number of global citizens using their voices to raise concerns over poverty reduction and aid grows; accountability among world leaders to meet their aid promises seems to be stagnant, and even falling. Unfortunately, Canada’s lack of leadership and honouring of its promises has put it at the receiving end of shaming reports and criticisms at this year’s G8 Summit. Despite years of promises to increase aid to 0.7% and to fulfill commitments to global initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals, past and present Canadian governments continue to disappoint Canadian citizens who want to see the needs of the world’s most vulnerable acknowledged and prioritized. Thank you for raising this important issue in your paper.

Jocelyn Durston, National Coordinator
Micah Challenge Canada  

June 6, 2007
Re: A Sorry Story on Aid to Africa
Letter submitted May 31 - Globe and Mail

Canada’s governments, both past and present have failed in their commitments to the worlds poor. Despite numerous promises on more aid – promises that began with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s 0.7% pledge in 1969 – Canada’s leaders continue to leave their promises to the most vulnerable unfulfilled. Micah Challenge Canada, a national campaign representing the voices of Canadian individuals, churches, associations and relief and development organizations, believes that Canada must commit to increases in the aid budget in order to reach the 0.7% target by 2015. Canada’s lack of accountability in its aid delivery to Africa concerns many Canadians. Thank you for raising this important issue in your paper.

Jocelyn Durston, National Coordinator
Micah Challenge Canada

June 6, 2007
Re: Afghanistan is the New Africa, by Don Martin
Letter submitted June 7 - National Post

Unfortunately, Juliet Awuor’s tragic story represents countless similar stories from around the globe; stories we have been affected by and promised to do something about. We are troubled by the ongoing lack of leadership and accountability in both our current and past governments on aid assistance. Canada has made promises on the international stage that it will increase its aid to Africa and other areas around the world. But what has become of these promises? Assisting the world’s most vulnerable should not be a passing fad, highlighted one year, then forgotten the next. Only one MP took the time to listen to Ms. Awuor’s story last week; let’s hope this isn’t indicative of our commitment to the promises we’ve made to the worlds poorest.

Jocelyn Durston, National Coordinator
Micah Challenge Canada

May 30, 2007
Re: Canada’s Foreign Policy on Sudan

Dear Prime Minister,

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada commends the Canadian government’s significant contributions in addressing the crisis in Darfur and in Sudan. We would like to take this opportunity to respectfully urge the Canadian government to push to add Darfur to the 2007 Summit agenda, and ensure that attendees adopt meaningful in support of United Nations (UN)-based international solutions to the crisis.

In light of your upcoming visit to Germany for the G8 meetings, we write you today to express our grave concerns regarding the rapid deterioration of conditions on the ground for Darfurians, humanitarian aid workers and African Union peacekeepers. This year’s G8 Summit coincides with this worsening tragedy as well as increasing frustration within the international community for failing to end the crisis to date. The Summit’s focus on Africa’s peace and security issues during a time that Darfur’s crisis is spreading to the neighbouring countries of Chad and the Central African Republic is a compelling reason to make the Darfur conflict a G8 priority.

We urge you to use your international influence at the G8 Summit to break the standstill on Darfur. In attendance at the meetings will be all five permanent and three rotating UN Security Council member states, the Chair and highly influential delegations from the African Union (AU), three of the African Union’s peacekeeping mission’s highest donors, and three of Sudan’s biggest foreign investor countries. It is essential that the crisis be addressed at this meeting where such international players will have an opportunity to voice their commitment towards establishing peace in Darfur.

As you prepare for the G8, we would like to bring to your attention the need for the issuing of joint statements from G8 members and outreach delegations, demanding the following:

Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Aid Workers
The immediate consent of the Government of Sudan for full deployment of the proposed AU/ UN multinational force, consistent with Security Council Resolution 1706, (i) establishing protection for civilians and humanitarian assistance delivery to those most in need, and (ii) ensuring a mission with the mandate, capacity, and resources to protect civilians according to the international laws and conventions to which the Sudanese government is a signatory.

Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
Ongoing international diplomatic and financial support towards the successful implementation of the CPA in Southern Sudan, which is fragile and under increasing risk as a consequence of the Darfur conflict – the CPA providing a positive template for future peace in the Darfur region, and its survival being a prerequisite to peace in the whole of Sudan.

Effective Implementation of Targeted Security Council Measures
The adoption of effective targeted sanctions against Sudanese officials identified by the UN Panel of Experts as responsible for human rights violations in Darfur. The US has recently announced sanctions to isolate Khartoum economically and force its leaders into cooperating with international efforts to stop the violence in Darfur. Canada has shown leadership in the past to achieve effective enforcement of targeted Security Council measures such as travel bans, freezing of assets, and arms embargoes and we would encourage Canada to use its influence within the UN to press for robust enforcement of such measures. 

Again, we appreciate that Canada is very much part of the solution regarding Darfur. But more needs to be done. We trust that you will consider these recommendations as part of Canada’s agenda for the G8 meetings.

Thank you for your consideration,

Bruce J. Clemenger, President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

May 30, 2007
Re: Court Rejects Muslim’s Conversion
Letter submitted May 31 - National Post

Lina Joy’s lost battle to have the word "Islam" removed from her identity card in Malaysia this week is one example of many that highlights why religious freedom and persecution need to be prioritized in human rights agendas. Today, more than 200 million people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights because of their Christian faith. Lina Joy converted from Islam to Christianity, but has not been given the freedom to remove her previous religious affiliation from her identity card – a consequence that will keep her from marrying her Malaysian Christian boyfriend. Her circumstance is one that most of us in Canada cannot comprehend or relate to, yet unfortunately, it is the kind of injustice that millions of people live under everyday around the world.

Thank you for raising this important issue in your paper.

Jocelyn Durston, International Policy Analyst
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

May 1, 2007
Re: Elizabeth May's Bizarre Speech
Letter to the editor published May 2 - National Post

Elizabeth May is reported as saying that some Evangelical Christians are "waiting for the end of time in glee," implying that some Christians would rather see the planet destroyed than engage with concern for the environment. This is a mischaracterization of the Evangelical faith and marginalizes the many Evangelical Christians who are also playing an active role in seeking solutions to address global climate change.

It is our hope that politicians will make renewed efforts to argue the merits of their case based on the numerous facts and evidences available to them and refrain from making unwarranted allusions to particular groups of people.

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

April 17, 2007
Re: "Pro-choice" Shouldn’t Mean Pro-censorship, by Jonathan Kay
Letter to the editor - National Post

Thank you, Mr. Kay and the National Post! The question of Canada’s abortion law is, in fact, a matter that remains open to public discussion. As the Supreme Court of Canada clearly indicated in 1988, it is within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to legislate in this area.

Sadly, McMaster is not the only university campus in Canada where the freedom to discuss differing opinions is being aggressively subdued. The Carleton University Students Association passed a motion that, ironically, amended their non-discrimination policy by endorsing a woman’s right to choose and refusing “resources, space, recognition or funding” to any CUSA club that carried out any  actions “that seek to limit or remove a women's [sic] right to choose her options in the case of pregnancy.” Bravely, some campus pro-choice leaders and members of the debating club at Carleton stood in opposition to this effort at stifling of free speech and discriminating against the voices of a perceived campus minority. With local and national news watching, Carleton LifeLine (a sister organization to McMaster LifeLine) was granted club status with a strong private warning from CUSA executive members that violation of the policy would result in loss of status.

The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan students’ association has banned pro-life groups from the campus altogether. The University of Western Ontario students’ association … the list goes on.

It is remarkable to think that on the same day the Post reports that the basic human right to freedom of expression is being overridden on university campuses across our country, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which enshrined those very rights in our constitution.

Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

April 13, 2007
Re: An Obsolete Privilege
Letter published April 17 - The Ottawa Citizen

I agree with the The Ottawa Citizen that parents who want their children to learn religion along with others subjects should be able to send their children to religious schools. This is not an argument to eliminate the publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario, but rather to expand the system and include schools or programs for children of other faiths.

The Ottawa Citizen says the public system should instill values but not shape the belief system of its students. To presume values can be separated from systems of belief is not non-sectarian but is itself a presumption of one of the competing belief systems. It belies the claim that the public school system serves families from all backgrounds and beliefs. While schools and Boards may differ in how well they accommodate religious and cultural diversity, some families still find it necessary to send their children to alternative religious schools at a significant financial cost.

The question is whether the public system is truly public. If it is to be so, the task is to devise and maintain a system that can accommodate the diversity of the communities which it is tasked to serve. Other provinces have models that are far more accommodating and just than Ontario’s and have moved beyond the one size fits all approach.

Bruce J. Clemenger, President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

April 2, 2007
Re: Creationism Debate Continues to Evolve
Letter - The Toronto Star

To label Denyse O’Leary, a former Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism, as a “fundamentalist” unfairly biases the reader against her viewpoint regarding the debate on how evolution and creationism should be taught in our schools.

No major Christian organization in Canada would refer to itself as “fundamentalist” and increasingly, it is only used in the media as a perceived derogatory categorization.

As pointed out in the article, people of Christian faith are happy to debate the merits of the theory of evolution and intelligent design. What is Brian Alters, who claims his viewpoint is the only one that merits public discussion, so afraid of?

Douglas Cryer, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

February 9, 2007
Re: Canada Losing Out on Trade, China Says
Letter - The Globe and Mail

Brian Laghi and Jeff Sallot’s article “Canada losing out on trade, China says” suggests that the Canadian government’s respect for human rights should bow to China’s threat of economic losses. On the contrary, if Canadians demonstrated solidarity on the importance of upholding human rights -- including an unwillingness to yield to pressure from a government with a questionable human rights record -- China might begin to take positive steps in the direction of citizen protection and freedom.

Clearly, China is concerned with Prime Minister Harper’s message that fundamental Canadian values, such as an enshrined belief in human rights, take precedence over the “almighty” dollar. Rather than submitting to China’s reaction of displeasure, Canadians should build on the Prime Minister’s actions and continue to promote international human rights standards.

Jocelyn Durston, International Policy Analyst
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

February 2, 2007
Re: The Marriage Contract
Letter to the editor published February 5 - The Globe and Mail

Asking people to check their beliefs at the threshold of public service would erect a new reverse form of religious test that Canada long ago properly rejected.

The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that clergy should not be compelled to perform marriages contrary to their religious beliefs. The same freedom should apply to marriage commissioners.

In 2005 Irwin Cotler, then Justice Minister, argued this when marriage was redefined. Marriage commissioners are licensed by the province to perform marriages. They are not employed or paid by the government.

Performing these services under license from the government should not result in the government taking away the same Charter rights of freedom of conscience and religion that similarly licensed clergy, and indeed all Canadians, are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To suggest otherwise would preclude from public service a significant number of Canadians who take their religious beliefs seriously and is contrary to sustaining an open, plural and tolerant society.

Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Outgoing Letters


EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger writes regular commentaries about public policy issues. The EFC magazine Faith Today often publishes articles and essays that examine such issues.

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