Freedom vs. religion on “the Hill”

By Adam McArthur

Perspective has a funny way of shaping everyday people and activities. While one might say the glass is half full, another says the contents of the glass are crushing the very ideals making their country great. Personally, I’ll have a Pilsner. Unopened.

Last week saw our fearless federal representatives return for their fall session with all the excitement of a first-year toga party and half the common sense. Almost all on "The Hill" spoke of either a new Liberal leader or their concerns about homosexual marriage. Buried beneath those more interesting than usual topics, something slipped under the radar that deserves a second look. It is called Bill C-250.

In a nutshell, Bill C-250 proposed to extend the hate propaganda laws of 1970, which banned incitement of hatred on the basis of colour, race, ethnicity or religion, to include sexual orientation. The private members bill, tabled by New Democrat MP Svend Robinson, an openly gay Member of Parliament, was passed Thu., Sept. 18 by a vote of 143 to 110.

Well, terrific. I think it’s great when a visible minority group that gets harassed more often than reported catches a break. Take a look at the NDP website to see Robinson and Jack Layton, a party leader with no place to sit, shaking hands over their victory in the name of equality. NDP triumphs are so rare, it’s worth a peek.

Wait one second, it appears the day is also awash in tragedy. Figures.

The Canadian Alliance wishes to announce that, let me get this correct, "free speech and freedom of religion are in jeopardy." For shame.

I was horrified. How could we let this happen, people? Canada is special because of the rights allotted to our citizens. This turn of events will be the downfall of the big red country just to the north of the United States–I have already forgotten its name–and before hearing anymore, I’m packing up and moving to Finland.

As I was about to call Helsinki to place an ad in their personals (SWM seeks women aged 18-35, Finnish preferred, must enjoy hockey and heckling Russia), I noticed the name of this freedom-quashing bill I hate so much while knowing so little.

Damn you Bill C-250! Damn you and all similar bills to follow your life force sucking… Bill C-250 you say?

That’s funny. I thought this piece of legislation was a good thing. The NDP were all squeals and giggles. What’s the deal with this C-250 anyway?

The deal is the Canadian Alliance believes this amendment will hurt the ability of people to dislike the idea of homosexuality. In fact, let’s go out on a limb and say most conservative and religious groups think they are now threatened from practicing freedom of speech and religion.

It should be noted the bill was slightly changed to create a defence from prosecution for opinions based on religious texts or in good faith.

Now, God forbid the conservatives or the church have their freedom of speech or beliefs infringed on. If any two groups have been accepting of others’ ideas and opinions, it has certainly been them (dry cough). I think they can rest assured no one is going to come and take their Bibles away, not that many wish to.

The part of this tale I find really concerning is what I have failed to hear mentioned by anyone else who might have covered this topic. For starters, last time I checked, there are 301 Members of Parliament. A vote of 143 to 110, or 141 to 110, depending of whom you ask, indicates at most 253 elected officials voted.

We all had the summer to ourselves, it’s the first week back, there was no excuse to be in the Den at 11 a.m. when classes aren’t done until 2 p.m. How almost 50 MPs get away from this vote baffles me.

For those in attendance who choose not to vote, check your skirt at the door. Cost: dignity, yours, assuming you still had some.

The other objection to this vote would be I don’t understand how more than 43 per cent of those who voted say this bill hurts freedom of speech and religion. One might extrapolate if you think creating a law against inciting hate against homosexuals hurts your religion, then there is a decent chance your religious texts, you know, incite hate toward homosexuals.

Would these objections pop up if homosexuals had already been covered in the bill and the vote was on Black, Dutch or Native groups? Fat chance.

Come out and say any other visible minority are a bunch of sinners, see how quick everyone with a label gun this side of the 49th Parallel tags you as a bigot. Truth is this wouldn’t happen in Canada to another group. We’re running out of targets to point at in regards to what’s wrong with society. You never know, soon we might have to start blaming ourselves. I just hope my MP decides to take a personal day when that comes.

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