Not everybody thinks like you, Justin

Pragmatism is a good principle to follow when looking at religion and charity. Like most things, decisions should be made by examining the benefits versus the potential downsides.

It seems that the Liberal Government of Canada cannot find a reason to be “liberal” on the issue of personal belief. Liberalism is supposed to be based on the idea of liberty, and liberty can only work in a free and open society.

It is ironic that the Liberal Party of Canada today is called “liberal” at all. As expressed by their “liberal” leader, their current ideology is more of a form of soft socialism. It requires conformity of opinion or risk being called hateful, Islamaphobic, or bigoted. It does not trust personal choice or believe people should hold views that are adverse to “Justin’s” determined standard.

We have seen this with motions such as M-103: a non-binding motion introduced by Iqra Khalid, a Liberal MP representing Mississauga-Erin Mills, that called for Parliament to condemn Islamophobia in Canada and for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to carry out a study on how racism and religious discrimination can be reduced and collect data on hate crimes. The divisive motion passed by a vote of 201–91 on March 23, 2017. It was contentious because, as many MPs pointed out, according to the most current and reliable statistics, Canada’s Jewish community faced the most hate crimes in Canada in 2015, with 469 recorded for their overall population of just over 300,000 people. In the same year (2015), there were 159 hate crimes against Muslims, whose overall population in Canada is just over 900,000.

The idea that Liberal MPs want to have a special category to highlight hate against one religion (Muslims) and suggest that hatred against them is somehow more intolerable or more important to address than hatred over another religion or group is absurd. Hate is hate. The law and any new legislation should be consistent and provide the same protection against hate for any minority community.

Then there is C-16: a federal bill passed in June 2017 that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression that condemns personal views and behaviours that might be deemed hateful if directed at religions or transgender people.

While I have no love for hateful people and believe all people of faith have the same rights as any Canadian citizen, I also think that no religion in Canada should be above criticism when questions arise about legitimate issues that put some of their beliefs in conflict with Canadian laws and values.

For example, I find it ironic that Prime Minister Trudeau said nothing when his Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, appeared before a Parliamentary committee in December 2017 and refused to answer very legitimate questions put forward by Conservative M.P. Michelle Rempel, who wanted to know why the Minister Hussen was apparently looking to remove the horrendous and criminal practice of female genital mutilation from the Canada citizenship guide. Instead of condemning the practice as criminal, Hussen responded that his department officials were consulting on the practice and, when pressed, refused to condemn it as a criminal practice, saying that his officials “are consulting stakeholders and experts” on the practice.  

In what can only be described as a weird Kafkaesque moment, Rempel then asked Ms. Marta Morgan, the Deputy Minister (DM) of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship about the practice. Her shocking response was: “We are in the active process of consulting on the document,” referring to the citizenship guide and female genital mutilation. Note that it is “Ms.” Morgan.  

There is a problem if the most senior female Deputy Minister in government thinks it is okay to consult on this repulsive practice rather than condemn it outright. There is nothing to consult about when it comes to mutilating young teenage girls. As a society, we have the right to demand this ritual not occur in Canada. Why would senior officials want to consult and study the issue? It’s a no-brainer. You can’t do that here.

It is strangely ironic that the current government policy is to consult on the issue of female genital mutilation, while at the same time they are using government programs to target and penalize religions that are pro-life? Why is the Prime Minister looking to cut the summer job grants for religious organizations that are pro-life? This is a preposterous assault on charity in Canada. Would he cut the funding to mosques that support female genital mutilation? I don’t think so.

However, far more importantly, many organizations with pro-life views like The Salvation Army and others undertake extraordinary charitable work. They are involved in feeding and housing the homeless, responding to community disasters such as fires, running youth groups for children in troubled areas, and sponsoring Syrian and other refugees who often arrive in Canada with nothing. Like The Salvation Army, many of these charities rely on young interns. I recall when my sisters attended one of their summer camps nearly a decade ago, which employed dozens of students as counselors and mentors. My sisters are not religious, but the SA needed counselors, and my sisters participated and had no issues with the Salvation Army. They do far more good work in the community than harm. Religious groups and charities have the right to determine their own moral views. 

Not everyone thinks or believes as you do, Justin. You should take a pragmatic approach and reject this misguided and wrong idea before it causes a severe employment problem for charities whose primary goal is to help people.